Photos provided by the family
Louise (Lanier) Williams was born to Frances and Pope Lanier, on February 4, 1917 in Bessemer, Alabama. Her mother was a teacher, entrepreneur and managing cosmetologist, traveling caravan gospel singer, and her father was an equipment mechanic and coal miner. Her exposure to Christian living began at an early age with a grandfather and uncle as ministers and her mother as a Baptist missionary. Her family instilled in her a strong belief in the Lord, and the importance of a good education. She is the only child from the marriage. At the age of 3, her parents relocated to Lundale, West Virginia. She lived in West Virginia until her father’s untimely passing at age 10. After her father’s death, Louise’s uncle, the late Reverend Sandy Cash, sent for her and her mother to relocate to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Louise attended Stowe school, and graduated from Woodward High School. Louise received dual undergraduate degrees in physical and elementary education from Wilberforce University, and the University of Cincinnati. She received a master’s degree in education from Miami University in Ohio. In addition, Louise was a licensed and managing cosmetologist. She received her cosmetology certification from Poro Beauty College, Cincinnati, Ohio. She diligently worked alongside her mother in her salon and on college breaks, as well on the Wilberforce campus in her words “doing hair” to finance her education. After graduation, she continued to work with her mother in the salon and as a substitute teacher prior to full-time employment with Cincinnati Public Schools during the pre-civil rights years when African American teachers were relegated to working only in predominately black schools.
She met her spouse, Major L. Williams in 1938, and they married in 1939. She was his “Lady”; the nickname she was affectionately called by family and friends because of her poise and grace, and he was her “Darling” for the polished gentleman that he was. Although she was raised in the Baptist denomination, after marriage she decided that a family should worship together and joined Calvary United Methodist Church under the leadership of Rev. Solomon Bankhead. Her service and positions at Calvary included Sunday School teacher, Steward Board team, Circle 8 Education Division member, Usher group, and the Methodist Women’s Group. Also, Louise belonged to various social clubs, including Les Couture’s (sewing was her passion) and a horseback riding club. They remained together 67 years until his death. After her husband’s death, she joined Zion Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. James H. Cantrell in Cincinnati, OH.
Louise retired from the Cincinnati Public Schools system as an elementary, resource teacher, and reading specialist where she was nominated and listed in the registry as an “Outstanding Teacher in America”. During her career, she was frequently asked to provide demonstrations to teachers at the Board of Education.
After relocating to Snellville, Georgia, Louise attended two senior centers: Salem Missionary Baptist Church Senior Center, Lilburn, GA, where she is a church member, and Centerville Senior Center in Gwinnett County GA. She received gifts and accolades from both centers, including induction into the Gwinnett County Senior Hall of Fame for innovation in introducing the program to the county to recognize seniors for their activism and service to others, as well as leading seniors in the exercise program. Another of Louise’s many talents discovered is that she loved to dance, and there are several videos showing her moves on social media. Her 100th birthday dance received over 4 million views and she was affectionately dubbed the “Dancin’ Granny from the Nati” (Cincinnati abbreviated).
She is a Diamond member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA), Inc., with 79 years of dedicated service, and was formally recognized at the sorority’s 2020 Founder’s Day celebration in Atlanta, GA as being among the oldest and only Diamond soror in the metro Atlanta area.
Louise never met a stranger, as anyone in her presence was always received with open arms. She was a true humanitarian, living by her mottos of “treating people the way you’d like to be treated” and “always extending your hand in kindness”. She was known among family and friends for her culinary skills, as there was “always a pot on the stove”, and a meal waiting at her home.
Louise has one daughter, Mala Williams-Flennoy, with whom she resided, three grandchildren, Terry Lewis Jr., Michael Flennoy Jr. (preceded her in death), Diamond Flennoy, and one great grandchild, Kailub Foday Lewis. Her presence will be greatly missed by her loved ones, church family, numerous sorority sisters and friends.