Almanac

Schools - February 27, 2013

Former local teacher turns 100

Kathryn Williams looks back over a well-lived life

by Jane Knoerle

Kathryn Williams of Menlo Park celebrated her 100th birthday Feb. 25.

The next day, Ms. Williams, a former elementary school teacher at Las Lomitas School in Atherton, was to be feted by retired Las Lomitas School District teachers, who meet every month for lunch. "It's very unusual to keep such lasting friendships," says Ms. Williams of the 15 to 20 teachers who have been getting together for years.

Ms. Williams started teaching in 1947 when her son was in first grade. She was one of the first to teach in split sessions, needed when the schools began to deal with the first of the Baby Boom. She taught in Redwood City and, for the last eight years of her teaching career, at Las Lomitas School, retiring in 1971. She says those years teaching first and then third grade were the "happiest years of my life. I always loved the little people."

Ms. Williams was born in Oak Knoll, Ohio, and moved west with her family to Walla Walla, Washington, when she was 3 years old.

"My parents always stressed education," says Ms. Williams, who graduated from UC Berkeley in 1934. The next year she married Ben Williams and they became parents of two children. Mr. Williams' government work in postwar years took them to Japan for two years and to London.

"I've made friends around the world," she says.

Ms. Williams was a minister's daughter and religion has been an important part of her life. She has been an active member of the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church since 1947. "My husband said I was always the first one to greet people at church and the last one to leave," she says with a laugh.

A resident of Menlo Park for 52 years, Ms. Williams lives with her daughter, Roberta Allee. Her son, J. Byron Williams, resides in Maryland. She has six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

When asked the traditional question about the secret to her long life, Ms. Williams says: "I was taught to appreciate life. Every day is a brand new day for me."

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