M ary Finch Williams, 96, died Monday, September 22, 2008 at Our Lady of Peace Nursing Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mary was born June 9, 1912 in Albany, New York but her roots in Granville are many and deep. She was the daughter of Roy G. Finch, son of George N. and Helen Hunt Finch, proprietors of Granville’s chief hotel, The Central House, which stood on the corner of North and Main Streets where the Clock now stands. Her mother, the former Jessie Weller was the daughter of Mary Lewis and George Weller. Anna Lewis, wife of the Sentinel’s first publisher, James L. McArthur, was Mary’s great-Aunt.
Although Roy’s career took him and Jesse away from Granville, Mary and her family spent all her summers, up until Roy’s death in 1959, at Lake St. Catherine with many MacArthur’s, Manchester’s, Lewis’s, Wellers and McHenrys. All her life she remained in close touch with her first cousins, Lucille McHenry Noel and Francis McHenry both of whom live in Bethesda. Maryland. Up until about two weeks prior to her death, she was able to listen to Lucille’s weekly letters, many of which contained a clipping or two from the Sentinel.
Mary attended St. Agnes School in Albany, graduated from Wellesley College in 1934 and took a Master’s Degree in College Administration from Syracuse University. She then worked at Wellesley as the Secretary of the Christian Association and as a dorm mother before becoming an Administrator at Pembroke College of Brown University. When World War II began, she worked as a Field Representative for the American Red Cross, helping to ensure participation in the newly established blood donor program. She also spent part of her career employed by the American Cancer Society.
On a visit home to Albany, she met Denny Williams, the Chaplain at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, her father Roy Finch’s alma mater. They married in 1950. After Denny joined the U.S. Army as a Chaplain in 1953, Mary enjoyed 16 years as an Army Officer’s wife, living with their two daughters in Georgia, North Carolina, Germany and Tennessee.
When the marriage ended in 1969, Mary resumed her professional life as Director of the American Red Cross in Clarksville, Tennessee, where she was an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church and served as the President of the Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of Tennessee. In 1987 she moved to Scottsville, Virginia to be closer to her daughters and grandchildren and became fully involved in the life of a small town which she often said reminded her of Granville. From 1987 until 1998 she served the Scottsville Museum as Head Docent, a job she loved.
She was an active member of her church, the Scottsville Senior Citizen’s group and upon moving to Our Lady of Peace Retirement community in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1999, was very involved in welcoming new residents.
She was a lifelong bridge enthusiast and an avid reader of newspapers and books, especially if the subject matter was politics, the Kennedy family and Washington, D.C. She also loved music, especially Broadway show tunes. She owned and loved many dogs throughout her life. Even in her last few months, she enjoyed visits from her four legged friends.
She is survived by her daughter Dr. Denise Williams and her husband, Christopher Yates of Scottsville, Va., her daughter Marilyn Williams and her fiancé, John Razi of Annandale, Va., and her four beloved grandchildren, of whom she was very proud: Amy Yates, who happens to be a sophomore at Green Mountain College in Poultney, and Charlie Yates of Scottsville, and Kathleen and Sam Wipf of Annandale Va.