Jerry Ruth Hutcherson Williams

Published 11:42 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jerry Ruth Hutcherson Williams passed away Monday, July 9, 2012 in St. Louis, Mo., following a brief illness. She was born in Bogalusa Sept. 5, 1936 to the union of the late Procula Marian Norris Hutcherson and Charlie Hutcherson.

She graduated from Central Memorial High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education (magna cum laude) with a concentration in English from Southern University in Baton Rouge. She earned a Master of Education in counseling from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

She was employed as a counselor in the Missouri School System and also served as a mid-level manager with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (AT&T) until her retirement in 1993.

She held many lay positions in the United Methodist Church. She was the first African-American lay leader of the Missouri Conference of the UMC and was actively involved in the World Methodist Council Executive Committee and the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. She was elected to the 2000, 2004 and 2008 General Conferences and served as vice chairman for both the 2000 and 2004 delegations. She traveled to Geneva, Switzerland as a member of the Executive Committee of General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and visited the World Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Institute de Bossey. In 2006, she was part of a delegation that met with the Pontifical Council on Christian Unity at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

A certified lay speaker, she held educational certifications in counseling, English and social studies. She was past president of the eight-state South Central Jurisdiction of United Methodist Women’s Core Planning Group and a past director of the Women’s Division, General Board of Global Ministries.

At the time of her death, she was completing the first quadrennial of a 12-year term as a member of the Board of Directors of the United Methodist Publishing House, which has oversight for Abingdon Press and the Cokesbury Stores. She was a Harry Hosier Life Member of the Black Methodists for Church Renewal and served in the Missouri Conference on the Pathways Task Force. Recently, she was named director emeritus by the Board of Directors of Epworth Children and Family Services in St. Louis.

Her honors include the Model of Solidarity Award, the Unsung Heroine Award and a listing in Who’s Who in Black St. Louis (2005-2006 edition). She held life memberships in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the NAACP, Kappa Delta Pi and Alpha Kappa Mu Education Societies and Top Ladies of Distinction.

A prolific writer, she was the author of the book, “Sighing Forth My Soul,” published in 2007, and recently wrote an article that appeared in the November 2011 issue of Response Magazine, titled “Sweeter than Honey.” Other articles have appeared in the Upper Room Devotional Guide, and various other magazines and newsletters. Her service in the church allowed her to travel the world, including Israel, Egypt, Brazil, Switzerland, Italy, North and South Korea, China, Japan, Brazil, the Bahamas, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Canada and most of the United States, including Hawaii.

Jerry leaves to mourn a devoted husband of 53 years, Robert P. Williams; daughter, Michelle Yvette Williams of Chicago, Ill.; sister, Faye V. Gregory of Bogalusa; brother Felton (Louise) Hutcherson of Oak Harbor, Wash.; nephews, Bruce (Colleen) Hutcherson of San Diego, Calif. and Lamont Corbin of Detroit, Mich.; niece, Sabrina Clay of Oak Harbor; cousins, Bishop Alfred L. (Mackie) Norris of Atlanta, Ga., Rev. Leslie P. (Roszeta) Norris of Houston, Texas, Dr. Wilfred (Edna) Norris of New Orleans; Janice (Johnny) Hayes of Texas City, Texas; Lyn Norris of Worcester, Mass. and a host of family members and friends throughout the country.