Williams celebrates 100 years with four generations of family

Published 1:47 am Saturday, September 4, 2010

Today’s column will be a salute to another fine lady who reached 100 years of age last month, and it is actually a continuation of last week’s writing. The two ladies, Delano Cumi (Drake) Gillian and Freddie Oleta (Frazier) Williams, are first cousins and dear friends. Both were honored by their families upon their having reached 100 years of age.
Williams was the first of 12 children born to James Richard and Freddie Loretta (Thomasson) Frazier. Both parents had children by their first spouses whom they had lost. She arrived into the loving family on July 30, 1910. As she grew up, she was surrounded by several older siblings and many younger ones. She appeared to have inherited her mother’s good disposition and fun-loving nature, so she got along well with all the other children
She was married on Nov. 6, 1927, to Albert Leo Williams (1902-1981), the only child of Charlie Crockett and Emma Lavonia (Taylor) Williams. Together they reared the following five children: Margie Nell, b. 1928, m. Earnest Jordan; Jimmy Louis, b. 1930, d. 1997, m. Edna Carolyn Grace; Shirley Ray, b. 1935, m. (1) Douglas Terrell Hall (2) I.D. Sanders; Barbara Helen, b. 1945, m. Charlie Frank “Joe” Tisdale; and Larry Bernard, b. 1952, m. (1) Belinda Phillips (2) Blenda (Stokes) Dickie.
The four oldest children have made their homes in Opp near their parents. The youngest son has retired from a career in the military and now does private consultation in the aircraft industry. He and his wife have lived for a number of years on Padre Island near Corpus Christi, Texas, but they are making plans to return to Opp in the near future.
In addition to their five children and their spouses, Her descendants include the following to date: 11 grandchildren, 12 great- grandchildren, and 11 great-great grandchildren.
She and Leo resided in and involved themselves in the community life of the Town of Opp. He worked for a number of years with H.B. Paulk Grocery Company. Around 1929, he decided to move out on his own, so he built the first of two stores, which he would operate on U.S. Hwy. 331. This allowed her and his parents to work along side him in the general store. The couple continued this operation until 1979 when Leo decided to sell their stock in the store.
The store was located on the south side of their home, which was a house they built in the late 1920s. This was the family home until they built a new brick home next to their fishpond off Adams Road.
In later years, members of the family moved the store building to other family property, so it is still in the family. Before his death, the couple deeded a lot to each of their children surrounding their house on Adams Road.
Leo sold some of his property on the north side of his store and home for the construction of Young’s Motel. Afterwards, they would work some in helping manage the motel and fill in for the owners when they would be traveling.
Upon retiring from her various employments, she remained active in her community. She learned of a federally funded program to employ senior citizens as senior aides in various agencies. This was a work program for seniors in which they might share from their life experiences and lessons they had learned. She became one of the first to be hired and was placed at Mizell Hospital. Although her tasks were many and varied, she was often ward clerk for the information desk.
She also learned of the federally funded nutrition centers, so she set about getting one for Covington County. She was a friend to Jerry Adams, a Covington County commissioner at the time, so she sought his help. He told her funds were available, but someone would have to spearhead the effort. Oleta became that person, and the end result was three centers in the county. The one in Opp was opened in the former Opp Church of Christ building, and the ones in Florala and Andalusia were opened the following day. She volunteered and worked with this program of which she was so proud for more than 20 years.
Several plaques are hanging in her home for which she is so grateful. In 1993, the City of Opp and Covington County presented her with community achievement awards for her services with the nutrition centers. In 1995, she received a special commendation from the Southeastern Alabama Regional Committee on Aging for her participation in their senior citizens employment program.
She has been a long-time and active member of her church, the Valley Grove Primitive Baptist, located on U.S. Hwy. 331 north of Opp. She is one of the last three surviving members of that church.
In addition to her public life, she has many personal interests such as growing beautiful flowers. She was especially talented in rooting gardenias and multiplying amaryllis bulbs, which she enjoyed sharing with others. Another interest was fishing in her own fishpond next to her latest residence. She also enjoyed having fish fries and entertaining folks with such appetizing meals.
In her 100 years of life, Oleta has touched the lives of many people in a positive way. This was demonstrated by the more than 100 friends and relatives who called to offer good wishes at her birthday celebration. Her children and grandchildren honored her with a reception on Sunday afternoon, July 25, in her home at 126 Adams Road in Opp.
She was attractively attired in a new dress with which she was very pleased. She also expressed numerous times how pretty her specially designed cake was. The cake was served along with finger-foods, punch and coffee from different tables in the dining room.
Williams has been known in the family for promoting good relationships and reunions. She has been a major supporter of her Thomasson family’s reunion for many years.
Some years earlier, she actually hosted some at her house. In later years, she completed such projects as having those attending some of the reunion to sign a large linen sheet to preserve their signatures.
One year she and her sisters made a beautiful quilt, which they offered for the auction to help raise funds for getting the Thomasson family history published.
Her children are so proud of their loving mother and are especially pleased that she has been able to remain in her own home all these years. They are to be commended for working out a schedule where they all have a part in caring for her needs, especially now that she is in failing health.
Appreciation is expressed to her children for sharing information about their mother for this writing.
Anyone who might wish to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, may do so at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or e-mail: cthomasson@centurytel.net.