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Mary R. Williams

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Mary R. Williams

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White Plains native Mary R. Williams is known in her community as an entrepreneur, a community activist and a trailblazer.

Mary Silas was born and raised in White Plains, NY. While in high school she met Richard Williams at a youth social organized by the Westchester Urban League. The couple wed in 1954 and had two children Richard Jr. and Ramona.

After high school graduation Mary attended the Metropolitan Hospital School of Nursing located on what was then called Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island) in New York City. Mary became a Registered Nurse and was the first black nurse hired at Lawrence Hospital in Westchester County (now NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital).

Mary Williams’ care for others was not limited to the bedside and she has been active her community and has recognized for her volunteer work and entrepreneurship. Mary is co-founder of the Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP) which has been providing range of social services and programs to low-income and at-risk residents since 1965. She was one of the original WestCOP Board members and is still active in the organization. She is also a founding member of The Lois Bronz Children’s Center and The Theodore D. Young Community Center, both in White Plains.

Mary Williams was the first black female President of the Greenburgh Chamber of Commerce and also served at the President of the Elmsford Civic League. She was honored by the Town of Greenburgh in 1998 when named “Citizen of the Month” for her numerous humanitarian activities.

Through Mary’s diligence and work, she was able to get funded a “Learn to Swim” program at Massaro Park in Elmsford in the late 1960s. This culminated with a visit by Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller paying a visit and making a personal donation to the pool fund. The pool was aptly renamed “The Mary R. Williams Pool” in honor of her hard work.

Items in the Mary R. Williams Collection

Mary Williams graduated from nursing school in 1954. She attended the Metropolitan [Hospital] School of Nursing that was located on Welfare Island (now named Roosevelt Island). Desc. from Richard D. Williams.

Undated photo of Mary Williams taken during one of her trips to South Africa. Mary took nearly 20 trips to Africa, including 5 to South Africa, where she had to travel as an honorary white due to apartheid.
"Taken in South Africa - Honored in…

Photo of Mary Williams with Hillary Clinton at the Theodore D. Young Community Center in White Plains. Clinton visited the center with Congresswoman Nita Lowey sometime during President Clinton's term. - desc. from Richard D. Williams

Undated photo of Mary Williams with Dr. Julius Ford. Back of photo: "Mary received an award for helping the youth of North Elmsford."

Mary Williams with Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller at Massaro Park in North Elmsford. "From either 1967 or 1968 and the donation from Rockefeller was for an above ground pool that was built at Massaro Park in North Elmsford on Payne Street. The Town of…

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  • Mary R. Williams