JUDITH C. WILLIAMS

Longtime Clyde Hill resident, Judith C. Williams (née Rowlett), passed away on October 6, 2018 at the age of 84. She was just one week away from her 85th birthday.

Judith Carmen Rowlett was born on October 13, 1933, in Conway AR, second child to Thurman E. and Amy Rowlett (née Newberry). She was a graduate of Conway High School and received an undergraduate degree at Hendrix College of Conway AR and a master’s degree at George Peabody College for Teachers of Nashville TN. She taught high school English in Wheaton, IL for three years. In the late fifties, she moved to California where she taught English at Long Beach High School. In 1961, she married her husband of 57 years, Jon Williams.

Judy and Jon moved to Clyde Hill in 1965 where they raised their family. Judy became a long-time parishioner and choir member at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Medina, where she also completed a short stint as a music teacher. She played the piano and guitar.

Judy advocated for increasing access to team sports for girls at a time when girls’ sports were still an afterthought. In the seventies, amid a dearth of coaches for girls, she stepped up to the plate and coached girls softball and basketball for multiple seasons in Bellevue area leagues. Self-taught in coaching by studying books about coaching and game strategy, as well as watching the pros, she focused on teaching girls how to think through what to do in a given play rather than just rote drills.

Judy was a fierce advocate for both public and alternative education and, as one of a group of parents, helped found the Olympus Northwest School (http://olympusnw.com/) which was opened in 1974 by the Bellevue School District. The school operated for 25 years. She was elected to the Bellevue School Board where she served 8 years from 1980 to 1987. She voted with other members of the School Board to sell the site of the former Bellevue Junior High School to the City to become what is now the Bellevue Downtown Park.

Prior to retiring at age 54, she worked for a number of years for the Washington State Labor Council in Seattle.

Despite the tragic loss of her central vision at age 56, Judy, an avid reader, continued living life to the fullest, including reading multiple newspapers daily, shopping, keeping house, and contributing actively to an online creative writing community. She also wrote an unpublished book of poetry for her children. A dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, Judy actively engaged in efforts to raise public awareness around controversial issues of local interest such as Death with Dignity and domestic violence.

She is survived by her husband Jon Williams of Clyde Hill, children Jefferson Williams of Lake Oswego OR, Sara (Sally) Carrington of Novato CA, and Susan Williams-Sias of Riverside CT, her brother Thurman Rowlett Jr. of Baytown TX, and five grandchildren.

The family will hold a private celebration of Judy’s life at a later date. Friends may contact the family directly or at judys_memory@earthlink.net.

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