Local resident Ethel Williams is marking a very special milestone this month, and the community is invited to help out with the celebration.
Williams is turning 100 this month, and the ‘Ethel Williams 100th Birthday Parade’ is taking place July 17th from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at her home of 67 years – 5004 – 56th St.
Folks are invited to drive by, walk or run by the house; to join in the fun while still remaining physically distanced. Visitors can also drop off cards with a photo or a special memory.
“My mother’s birthday was on July 19th, so we always celebrated together,” said Williams during a recent chat. “We would get together for tea or something.”
Marking a century is indeed an amazing feat, but Williams, who is absolutely gracious and one terrific storyteller, said that really, she doesn’t feel too much different these days in spite of this spectacular milestone.
“I guess it is a milestone, but I never really felt much about it,” she added with a smile. “I don’t know how I got so old so fast! It seems like I was just 90 a while ago.
“I just feel like I always did – I feel really good.”
Williams was born on July 17th, 1920 on a farm about 10 miles north of Stettler.
She reflects on her past with a tremendous sense of gratitude and joy, but there is no doubt this is one progressive woman who is always looking forward. She enjoys learning of current events both locally and abroad, and keeps busy with crossword puzzles, visiting and keeping in touch with friends and family. Her passion for life is unmistakable.
“My dad was from England – he came out here in 1907 when he was 17. My mother came from Kansas when she was 16. I was born 10 miles north of Stettler – the house is gone now, but there are some buildings still there.
“I was born in a big, square house, and there is a picture of it in a Red Willow history book,” she explained.
She recalls a happy and secure childhood, and as she grew older she also became quite the athlete. She loved running, playing softball and even tried her hand at basketball which proved a bit more challenging as she’s not very tall.
But she embraced each and every challenge with gusto.
After finishing high school, she recalls staying home on the farm for a year before beginning a new job at the Royal Bank in Stettler, where she would work for 13 years.
It wasn’t too many years from there that she met the love of her life. “I met this fellow from Erskine called Lloyd Williams – I think he had his eye on me,” she recalled with a laugh.
They married in 1953 at the Stettler United Church.
Lloyd, who worked for the C0unty of Stettler and passed away in 2004 at the age of 91, doted on his bride.
“He spoiled me to pieces,” she said. “He did everything for me – we both loved each other.”
She chuckled at how Lloyd also didn’t approve of girls who chewed gum – luckily, that was something that Ethel didn’t do as her father hadn’t approved of it either.
They also built and moved into their lovely Stettler home 67 years ago – the very house Ethel still calls home today. While Lloyd and Ethel were away on their honeymoon in Vancouver, the basement was being dug. “When we came back, it was up but not quite finished inside,” she explained.
Looking around the house today, it’s obvious that the family truly made the house into a ‘home’.
There’s a warmth and friendly feel to it, and Ethel recalls how Lloyd would frequently call her to set another place at the table for supper.
“He brought somebody home for dinner pretty near every day.”
They also later adopted a son who they called Larry, who sadly passed away in 1988.
Over the years, Ethel and Lloyd also truly served their community – they helped out with a number of community causes and organizations from the Rotary Club (Lloyd) to the Order of the Eastern Star (Ethel) among others. She also led a group of young girls called the Explorers at the United Church.
Last year, Ethel contributed financially to the refurbishment of the Stettler Community Recreation Track – a legacy project from the 1991 Alberta Summer Games.
At the time, she shared with Board Chair Greg Hayden her provincial championship ribbons and certificates from 1937 (along with the track shoes) when she won the 50- and 100-yard-sprints and placed in high jump and long jump events.
Ethel had also been selected to train with the Canadian British Commonwealth Games track team in 1939 when war broke out and caused the games to be canceled.
These days, Ethel credits her long and fulfilling life to everything from not smoking to staying active and to working on keeping her mental skills sharp. “I always did puzzles, and I’ve always knitted – when you knit you have to concentrate,” she said reflectively. “And I also was always interested in people,” she added with her lovely smile. “I was happy, too.”