Ada L. Williams: long-time educator, community servant

Ada Williams Auditorium Dedication
Ada Williams Auditorium Dedication

The Dallas Examiner

Ada L. Williams’ name may sound familiar to many – even those who didn’t know her. The Ada L. Williams Auditorium, the auditorium of the Dallas ISD Administration Building, is named in her honor after many years of dedication and significant contributions to Dallas schools.

Ada Williams grew up in the Dallas Independent School District. She began her education at N.W. Harlee Elementary School and graduated from Lincoln High School. Afterward, she went on to Huston-Tillotson College where she was Miss Huston-Tillotson and earn a bachelor’s degree. She completed her education at the University of North Texas, where she earned her Master of Arts Degree in Education.

A passion for education

“She was a people person, dedicated to service and just enjoyed being in service organizations and just helping people anyway that she could,” said her son, Adrian Williams, who stated he admired her passion for students. “In her early days she was a teacher for Dallas Independent School District, that’s how she started her career,”

Ada Williams began her teaching career by teaching math, science and music in Dallas ISD schools in 1955. She went on to serve as president of the Classroom Teachers of Dallas for four years. She also served as Dallas ISD Director of Employee Relations during her career there.

“Then she moved onto counseling, where she was helping students with class placement and leading them in the right direction in the different courses they needed to take when they got to high school,” her son continued. “After that she ran for the Classroom Teachers of Dallas where that role led her into an employee relations role where she was helping employees that were having problems with bosses and other people and just overall helping people on the job.”

It was in Ella Johnson’s senior year of high school that she first heard the name Ada L. Williams from Everon Goode Robinson and Vivian Bowser. They were longtime Texas public school educators and student leadership sponsors at that time.

“The threesome had ties to Huston-Tillotson, Delta Sigma Theta and the AME Church,” Ella Johnson recalled. “It was easy to call her when I enrolled at UNT and I became active in student leadership and subsequently Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.”

She said it was then that she was drawn to her wisdom, which made her a good leader in the community.

“She was a very seasoned leader and shared her gifts and talents she had. She was a very selfless person who gave her all to help someone else,” Ella Johnson said.

Dedicated parliamentarian

Ada Williams was a Professional Registered Parliamentarian in the State of Texas since 1978 and was elected and served as parliamentarian of the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees from 1988. She served numerous superintendents until she retired in 2002.

Former Texas Gov. Mark White appointed Ada Williams to the State of Texas Credit Union Commission where she served a six-year term. Ada Williams was the current sitting Board Chairman of the Credit Union of Texas. She held the position since December of 1996.

Ada Williams also served as President of the Texas State Association of Parliamentarians. She immensely enjoyed her work helping a diverse array of organizations with matters of parliamentary law. Throughout her life – even until the last week of her life – she volunteered her time as a proctor for those taking the registered parliamentary exams.

“Ada poured into me so much and continued to be a voice of support and encouragement through the years,” Ella Johnson explained. “She always keep a plan in place for me and would tell me to pray about it and to let her know if I needed her for anything. She was instrumental in directing my spouse and me to a parliamentary study group of which I became a charter member of, The Sounding Block Unit. It was her plan to see Earl and me acquire the Professional Registered Parliamentarian status at the same time, representing her love of family and connection.

“Sitting in her parliamentary classes, she made it so engaging. A lot of it is theory. It’s a lot. You have to read and re-read to get an understanding. She went the extra mile to make sure you understood it.”

Ella Johnson stated that she has followed in Ada Williams’ step and has served on boards with her. She watched the parliamentarian as she changed her demeanor during meetings as they grew long and intense.

“She had mastered how to keep her crown on straight when the going got rough. With patience, kindness and firmness, she could remain composed. Perhaps her deep seated love of God and her love of people helped to dictate who and whose she was,” Ella Johnson said.

Her nephew, Deylan Walker, said his aunt was like that in every situation.

“She could take control of a bad situation and make it better. She kept everyone calm,” he said.

The educator served as parliamentarian of the Dallas Retired Teachers Association, as well as president and parliamentarian of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. She became the National Parliamentarian of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. in 1979. After serving 10 national presidents, the organization named her National Parliamentarian Emeritus in 2015.

“She was actively engaged in the community. She was a part of Delta Sigma Theta for 65 year or so, volunteering programs, mentoring not only deltas but throughout the community,” Walker said. “She was one of my mentors for most of my life. She mentored teachers, counselors and students.

“Her phone constantly rang even after she retired, from people who always [sought] advice from her. She was always a source of advice for people.”

She received the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club’s highest award, The Sojourner Truth Award.

With wisdom and poise

Ada Williams was a dedicated public servant who died of natural causes on Dec. 27, 2017 at the age of 84.

At the time of her death, Ada Williams was a trustee at the St. Paul African American Episcopal Church. She was also on the Board of Directors of the Maureen F. Bailey Cultural Foundation. Other organizational affiliations include: Texas Reading Association, National Association of Parliamentarians, Golden Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, life member of YWCA and Dallas Arthritis Foundation.

Walker said that throughout the tributes made to Ada Williams during her funeral service and wake there was a common theme of her always helping someone.

On a more personal note, he recalled four important things he admired most about his aunt.

“She was god fearing women, she loved her family, she always helped people and a member of many organizations,” he said. “She was a wonderful lady who believed in God and taking care of family. She was the matriarchic of our family when she passed away.”

“Ada L. Williams was a gentle giant who will be sorely missed, Ella Johnson stated as she recalled her words of wisdom, ‘Success comes before work only in the dictionary.’”

Adrian Williams validated the quote.

“I’ve seen that to be true in my lifetime,” he acknowledged. “You can’t have success just sitting back, you have to put the time and the effort in to getting the success. Success is earned not given.”

Recalling the same phrase, Walker said, his aunt always believed in putting in the work. He also remembered another wise saying of hers that has stuck with him, “It’s not about all the accolades, it’s about helping people.”

It was her humbleness and her ability to help people whenever she could that he said he would mist most.

“She always believed in doing what’s right. That’s what I always remember about her,” he said, “Up until she passed, she was always helping people.”

Her son listed Ada William’s kind spirit as the two things he would miss most.

“She was just a fun person. I’ve never seen my mother upset in all the years of my life. She always had a calm spirit and was just a fun loving person.”

This could be why their close relationship may be equally missed, if not more so.

“Even though I’ve been grown for many years, we were always close. I spoke with my mother every day. If I didn’t call her, she called me and we traveled together, attended family functions together. She was just a dynamic person overall.”

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