STOCKBRIDGE Joan Taylor Williams, of 110 Interlaken Road, died peacefully at home on March 23, 2018. She was 94 years of age and had suffered a stroke a few weeks earlier.
Joan was born in Holyoke, MA, the only child of Leonard Parfitt Taylor and the former Donna Chase Doane. She attended Holyoke schools (grammar, middle and two years of high school) until the family moved to Dalton, when Lenny became manager of the Byron Weston paper mill. Joan then attended Dalton High School, from which she graduated in 1940, as Treasurer of her class. Thereafter, Joan attended Westbrook Junior College, from which she graduated in 1942 as class valedictorian. Subsequently, Joan undertook a one-year secretarial school program in Cambridge, MA after which she was hired to be secretary to the head librarian of Radcliffe College. Later in the 1940s Joan worked for New England Telephone in Pittsfield as a customer service representative.
Joan’s family’s home in Dalton was on Main Street, two doors from the family of Henry H. Williams, Jr. Henry had had his eye on Joan since she arrived in town, and the two corresponded while he served overseas in the Army during the Second World War. One thing led to another and they were married in Dalton in September 1948. Henry’s college education had been delayed by the war, and the newlyweds lived in married student housing at Dartmouth during Henry’s senior year. Joan served as secretary to the officer in charge of Navy ROTC at Dartmouth and, according to family lore, used her brains and skills to help Henry to graduate from Dartmouth. After graduation, Joan and Henry spent two years in Cambridge where Henry attended business school and Joan resumed her job at Radcliffe. Following Henry’s M.B.A. in 1951, the couple settled in Dalton, where Henry joined E.D. Jones & Sons Co. and they had their first child, Henry III (Terry) in 1952. Later, sons Peter and David were born, and Joan raised the three boys at the family home on Main Street in Dalton, the red saltbox across from the town hall and library.
Joan and Henry lived briefly in Beloit, Wisconsin during the early 1970s, and in 1973 they moved full time to their former summer home, the old Shadowbrook “Boat House” on Stockbridge Bowl, which was their beloved home throughout the remainder of their lives. In 1973 Henry became a trustee and Treasurer of the Old Corner House (which recently had come into being and later became the Norman Rockwell Museum), and at that time Joan became the museum’s volunteer bookkeeper, a position that she held for a decade until the museum grew to have paid staff that could take on the job. Joan’s other extensive volunteer activities included the American Red Cross and the Junior League of Pittsfield.
Joan and Henry traveled widely, both in connection with his professional career and after his retirement. They loved their broad circle of friends and relatives in the Berkshires and beyond. Joan was known for her beautiful handwriting, and she never missed a birthday or Christmas card to her family and friends, penned in her distinctive script.
In 1998, just months after they had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a large event at the Red Lion Inn (then owned by their dearest friends Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick), Henry was severely injured in an auto accident on his way home from the Rockwell Museum to have lunch with Joan. Henry spent nine months recovering in the Albany area, and Joan visited him daily without fail. When Henry returned home to the Boathouse, son Peter joined them to assist with care. Although Henry had suffered a serious brain injury, he lived happily at home until passing away in 2010. Joan then, in a wheelchair, continued to live at the Boathouse with Peter, also assisted by wonderful caregivers, until her passing. She was cognizant and happy until her stroke, and even on some days thereafter.
Joan is survived by her three sons, Henry H. (“Terry”) Williams III of Dalton, Peter C. Williams of Stockbridge, and David T. Williams of Stoughton; Terry's wife Jane, four grandchildren, Emily C.W. Douno (Oumar) of Austin, Texas, Taylor H. Williams (Sarah) of Pittsfield, Parker H. Williams of Medford and Gia N. Williams of Stoughton, and two great-grandchildren, Henry R. Williams of Pittsfield and Caleb M. Douno of Austin. Joan loved her family greatly.
FUNERAL NOTICE: A celebration of Joan’s life will be held at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge on May 11, 2018 from 5 to 7 PM. All are invited to attend. Donations in Joan's memory or in lieu of flowers may be sent to: Norman Rockwell Museum PO BOX 308 Stockbridge, MA 01262. Dery Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.