TULALIP – The Rev. Marjory Aleta Williams died and was revived at least twice.
“She just wasn’t ready to go,” Connie Bond, her friend and caregiver, said after Williams’ funeral and burial Wednesday.
Williams was such an extraordinary woman it would take up to five people to replace her, Tulalip Tribal Chairman Stan Jones Sr. said.
Williams, 83, died Saturday at home. She was born March 22, 1921, in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. But she was such a big part of the Tulalip Tribes that she was named an honorary tribal member and buried in the Tulalips’ Mission Beach Cemetery.
“She made such a big impact with everybody, tribal and nontribal,” Jones said. “She’s not going to be able to be replaced … You have to have someone who’s able to communicate with people, find you a place to stay … I’m afraid some of the programs she started will go down some without her.”
Williams met B. Adam Williams, a Swinomish tribal member, while the two were attending Pacific Bible College in Portland, Ore. They married in 1943. Four years later, they were sent by the Church of God to minister to the Tulalip Tribes.
The couple began what became known as “Adam’s Church” – later “Marge’s Church” after his death in 1978, and more universally, “The Little Red Church.”
The two were known for their kindness. The couple’s four children ate many meals with a guest at the table when the Williamses encountered someone struggling to get by, particularly around the holidays.
They provided rides in a well-used Chevy for people who had no cars. They took people to and from the hospital, including pregnant women about to deliver. They started a program for a church bus to pick up children for Sunday School. They began a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.
“It really saved a lot of our people out here,” Jones said. “So many people went and got dried out there and then led productive lives.”
“She spent her whole life just giving herself to other people,” said her son, Terry Williams.
Marge Williams took over the church after her husband died, but her service didn’t stop there. She opened food and clothing banks, initially providing assistance on her own.
“They just feed everybody, tribal and nontribal. It’s right out of the church,” Jones said.
“Every tribal family has been touched by Adam and Marge,” Jones said. “… She was probably more Indian than a lot of us. She was really a blessing for the tribe.”
In addition to performing weddings and funerals, providing sports and other recreational program for youths, Marge Williams helped initiate a reservation foster home program for American Indian children, served as chairwoman of a local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee for the state Department of Social and Health Services, was a member of the Foster Care Citizen Review Board, the Snohomish County Disability Board and the Marysville Ministerial Association.
“Her main thing was just serving the people,” said JoAnn Jones, Stan’s wife. “She really enjoyed the music that we had in church and the band. They play some good gospel music.”
JoAnn Jones worked with Williams, serving as the church secretary. Stan Jones serves on the board of directors.
Williams was honored upon her death with a standing-room-only crowd at the tribal gymnasium.
“There’s ministers that came out from several states and from many faiths. I’ve never seen a service that had so many different faiths in unity that came together,” said Bond, who lived with Williams for about 18 months after heart problems took a toll on her health.
One minister attending was Linda Abold, a Church of God pastor from Alliance, Neb.
“Last year, at our annual convention in June for the United States and Canada, she was honored as a national treasure, somebody to be really looked up to in the Church of God,” Abold said. At the service attended by about 15,000 people, the church gave Williams a portrait of herself and a video on her life.
Williams became ill the day before she planned to leave for the convention. But a little thing like illness didn’t keep her down.
“She was busy all the time, even when she wasn’t feeling well,” Stan Jones said.
Reporter Cathy Logg: 425-339-3437 or email@example.com.