Lilian Williams, 99, passed away at home in Hot Springs Village on Feb. 23.
Fourth of eight children, she was born to Frances and Walter Bowman on a farm in Wabash County, on October 28, 1913.
After graduating from business college, she went to work for the Lincoln Life Insurance Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1938, she met and married J.B. Donnally, who was working as an actuary at the company. Due to nepotism rules at Lincoln at the time, she quit and got a job at the WPA at a salary of $125/month, the same amount her new husband was earning with his Masters degree from the University of Michigan. They had two children, Patti and John, while living in a little house on 3 acres of land in Fort Wayne. In 1950, J.B. took a job with Pan American Life Insurance Company and they moved to New Orleans. Pan American did significant business in Latin America, so they traveled frequently to countries in Central and South American on business. Lilian studied Spanish and, when the wife of the company’s President was unable to do so, gave a speech to a roomful of convention delegates in their native language.
In 1962, J.B. joined the American International Group in Hong Kong. They loved their five years there, which included travel throughout the Far East and, in fact, all over the world. Their next AIG assignment was in New York City followed by one in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1971, at the age of 57, J.B. decided to retire, so they set out by car to investigate various places where they might settle. They first stopped in Little Rock, Ark., to see their daughter and her husband. Patti suggested that they look at a new development nearby, Hot Springs Village. They did - bought a lot - and went no further.
They moved into the Village in January 1972, joining only 125 other full-time residents. At first, they rented a house on Lake Desoto before it had even been dammed and filled; they later moved to a house on Sonora Way. By the time the utilities were brought to the lot they had bought to build their dream house, J.B. was fighting cancer and the dream was never realized. Lilian founded the Women’s Golf Association in the Village; she loved playing golf and collected several trophies along with two holes-in-one over the years.
In 1978, J.B. passed away, and Lilian spent the next five years traveling. She married Lester Williams in 1983 and moved into his Hot Springs Village home on El Espinar Lane where they lived until moving to Good Samaritan Cedar Lodge in 2004. They are members of the Woodlands Presbyterian Church.
Lilian is survived by her husband, Lester Williams, and by her two children, Patti Leathers (and husband John Brunk), Overland Park, Ka., and John Donnally (and wife Phyllis) Dallas, Texas, along with six grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, four stepchildren, and many step-grandchildren, as well as two sisters and a brother. Her first husband, J.B. Donnally, her mother and father, one sister, and three brothers, preceded her in death.
Lilian was definitely an original; her sense of style, exuberant humor and overall pizzazz are unequaled. There will be a service to celebrate her extraordinary life at the Woodlands Presbyterian Church in Hot Springs Village on March 10th at
1 p.m. Her ashes will be interred in the Woodlands Memorial Garden as well as in Restland Memorial Gardens in Dallas, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to the Arkansas Hospice Foundation or to Woodlands Presbyterian Church, Hot Springs Village, Ark.
Guests may register at www.caruth-hale.com