BROWSE BY:     Title Number Subject Creator Digital Content

Interview with Berry A and Joyce Jackson Williams, June 28, 2005 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

pdf icon Get PDF Version
Title:
Interview with Berry A and Joyce Jackson Williams, June 28, 2005
Date:
June 28, 2005
Description:
Mr. Berry Williams served his community well by assisting in a door-to-door campaign to support the bond vote of March 1947 which would bring an institute of higher learning to this region. The success is seen today as UNCW. Mr. Williams' stories reflect his involvement with the community including his term as mayor of Wilmington 1985-87. Mrs. Williams began her employment at Wilmington College in 1967. She held various secretarial positions in different departments for over 20 years. She reflects many personal stories about faculty and staff.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Williams, Berry A. / Williams, Joyce Jackson

Interviewer: Mims, LuAnn / Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 6/28/2005 Series: Voices of UNCW Length 60 minutes

Q: Today is June the 28th, 2005. I'm LuAnn Mims with Adina Riggins with the Randall Library. We're continuing our oral history program with notables of Bloomington, and voices of UNCW. Today we have with us Mr. Berry Williams and his wife Mrs. Joyce Williams and both have been involved with the development of this campus and we're here to gather their personal memories today. Good morning to both of you.

Berry Williams: Good morning.

Q: If we could start with Mr. Williams, if you could give us a little personal background, where your family is from, brothers, sisters, et cetera.

Berry Williams: My brothers and sisters are all over the United States but most of us were born either in Robinson County or Columbus County in North Carolina. I was born in Clairton in uh.. 1921, October 5, 1921. On a tobacco farm by the way.

Q: How did you come to Wilmington?

Berry Williams: Uh.. for work.

Q: After you graduated high school?

Berry Williams: Yes.

Q: What high school did you go to?

Berry Williams: Acme Delco.

Q: Acme Delco.

Berry Williams: Fairmont and then Acme Delco.

Q: So work brought you to Wilmington, what specific type of work?

Berry Williams: I was uh.. back at that time you just looked for work. Uh.. you didn't specify what kind, unless you were a doctor and especially or someone with special training. Uh.. you were just looking for a job that was when uh.. that was during the days of the depression. And when the depression was almost over and of course you were in a depression and if you didn't have a job and were looking for one. So I guess I was uh.. in that state when I- when I came to Wilmington.

Q: So you had no intention of staying on your father's tobacco farm?

Berry Williams: No, coming up on the farm grave me-- gave me a great ambition, to get off the farm.

Q: Did you participate in any of the new deal programs that came through for young people?

Berry Williams: Yes I was a member of the uh.. Civilian Conservation Corp for two years.

Q: Where were you assigned?

Berry Williams: I was assigned first in little-- a camp in Little Washington, North Carolina. We called it Little Washington then but they don't like for us to do that now. And that's-- that was the home of Doctor Wagoner, I found- I found out later.

Q: Exactly. Washington, North Carolina.

Berry Williams: And uh.. I was there for nine months and then for the rest of my two years I was in Hartselle, Alabama, our- our uh.. company closed in uh.. Little Washington, so--

Q: Do you feel that participating in that program gave you additional skills to carry through--

Berry Williams: Oh--

Q: --after the depression?

Berry Williams: --yes, yes I do, it was- it was an excellent program. As a matter of fact while I was in there, it was my first volunteer experience I suppose. I taught spelling and math to those in the school or in the camp who uh.. were uh.. weak in spelling and math. Can you imagine that?

Q: No, but you had the initiative and the leadership to do that, nobody told you to do that? You just kind of--

Berry Williams: They recruited those who-- that looked at our- our background over and found out what we were-- what we had had some training in and uh.. asked me if I would uh.. participate in those two things and of course my mother having been a school teacher. She graduated for what is now East Carol-- for what is now East Carolina uh.. back before way when it was a teacher's college.

Q: Uhm.. uh..

Berry Williams: And uh.. so I-- she was always a teacher, she- she didn't-- she-- when I was born she stopped working as a teacher but she was a teacher all of her life.

Q: So when you came into Wilmington what line of work did you go into?

Berry Williams: I worked with McMillan and Cameron at Third and Chestnut Street, the south's finest Master Station, we called it.

Q: That is something else, we interviewed Stan Cameron and he told us that that was the location right there where B B and T is now--

Berry Williams: Yes.

Q: --was the location of his family store.

Berry Williams: Yes, I worked for his father.

Q: Were you an attendant?

Berry Williams: I was- I was-- I did whatever they asked me to do and for a few weeks and then they made me front service manager, which meant that I- I worked in uh.. retail sale, gasoline sales, lubrication uh.. tire sales, repair, whatever I was responsible for uh.. helping to show the uh.. employees how to do that which needed to be done. And uh.. so that was- that was my job as long as I stayed there.

Q: In the day of the self-serve that we have now, the whole concept of what you were doing there might seem foreign to a lot of people. Can you describe a little more in detail about your routine there?

Berry Williams: Yes, when an automobile drove into the driveway, one person that was at the left front door finding out what- what they needed. And asking may we check your tire pressure, sweep the car out, check your battery and when we- when we looked under the hood, we always looked to see if there was worn fan belt and things of that nature. If the oil was low, so we could get a chance to maybe suggest an oil change, a lubrication, it was quite a different day than- than it is today.

Q: And that type of service was expensive right?

Berry Williams: Oh absolutely.

Q: You just catered to certain people this was everybody that you did?

Berry Williams: Everybody who came into the driveway was a special person.

Q: Pretty interesting. I think we're going to take a minute and start with Mrs. Williams and find out a little bit more about your background, where you were raised.

Joyce Williams: I was born and raised in Robersonville, North Carolina and that's in Martin County and most person don't know where that is, but it's near Greenville about 18 miles from Greenville.

Q: And what high school did you go to?

Berry Williams: Robersonville High School and I was salutatorian of my group. Of course we had a very small high school graduating class, maybe 26 something like that.

Berry Williams: And she hasn't stopped talking yet.

Q: What--

Berry Williams: Which I enjoy of course.

Q: What were your ambitions after high school?

Joyce Williams: I always wanted to be a secretary and I wound up being an office work, a secretary and in fact all of the, practically 40 years that uh.. I did work. And I moved to Wilmington in 19-- I was a secretary of bookkeeper in Robersonville and then I moved to Wilmington in 1962. I worked at the North Carolina State Ports Authority I was a secretary and then uh.. married my boss and they have a rule against uh.. husband and wife working. So I came out to UNCW to apply but it was Weldon College at the time to apply for a job. Because I wanted to keep on with my state benefits and in 1967 the state did not pay well at all. Most people did not like to work for the state because of the low salary but the benefits were always good. You had more vacation time, you had hospitalization uh.. about ten holidays plus of course your vacation and most of the private uh.. people that you worked for did not have those benefits.

Q: Did you take any special training to learn your skills?

Joyce Williams: In high school, we had shorthand and bookkeeping and typing in high school. So that's the way I got my training, I didn't go to business college. We couldn't of have afforded it anyway. When I grew up we didn't know we were poor because everybody was poor.

Q: So you were able to take your skills that you learned in high school and apply them to--

Joyce Williams: Yes.

Q: --actual--

Joyce Williams: Yes.

Q: --did you ever think about after you started working think about going to some type of technical school?

Joyce Williams: No, because I was doing just what I wanted to do. I was given the opportunity when I worked at Wilmington College, they let everybody, if they wanted to, take a course per semester. I don't know why I never took advantage of that, because there were a lot of people who started from scratch with no college courses and they graduated from the university while they were here. And I think that that is great. In fact one of my friends had four children, a single mother and she graduated and went on to get her master's degree and uh.. started on her doctorial. Uh.. at a-- after she started using her master's degree at another school and uh.. started on her doctorial.

Q: Uhm.. so you came into town because you had a job secure already?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. no, uh.. as for reasons I don't even want to talk about.

Q: Okay, well we'll skip that then.

Joyce Williams: Don't want to go there.

Q: Again we're trying to establish you know an entry point into Wilmington--

Joyce Williams: Uhm.. uh.. but that was 1962 that I came to Wilmington.

Q: Nineteen sixty two.

Joyce Williams: And I thought I had moved to the city. When I first moved here at the corner of Oleander and uh.. South College Road. There were ponies in the yard there, where Toys R' Us now.

Q: I remember that.

Joyce Williams: Oh do you?

Q: Yeah.

Joyce Williams: You were really little.

Q: They kept those there all when I was in high school.

Joyce Williams: Okay.

Q: Because those little sheltie ponies there?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. uh.. that's right. I think Mr. Farroh's mother lived there.

Q: Uh.. uh.. and it wasn't until the city raised the taxes so much making it a commercial area that they couldn't keep the ponies--

Joyce Williams: Well I think too their mother died. But as long as I- I think as long as she lived he kept that house for that.

Q: Yeah, I remember the ponies. Yes, Wilmington was a very different place and Wilmington College and the development of that seems to have brought a lot of community involvement. You Mr. Williams you were more involved with getting the college started or I mean can you give us a point and time how you came about being involved here?

Berry Williams: Yes the uh.. Junior Chamber of Commerce, later called Jaycees and the uh.. Board of Education co-sponsored the establishment of uh.. Community College as it was called then.

Q: Uhm.. uh..

Berry Williams: And uh.. I was one of the campaign workers in the drive for the passage of that issue. And it passed, well I was looking at the record this morning 74% of the voters approved it.

Q: Now was this driven by the need to have a place locally for returning veterans?

Berry Williams: It was- it was built for the uh.. benefit of all of the people who could participate in it. As an example, uh.. my son attended Wilmington College uh.. there were- there were lots of people who were able to attend college and eventually go on to a university. Who might not have gotten their foot in the door had it not been for what was a Community College, then Wilmington College and then a part of the-- of UNC.

Q: So let's back up for a minute, how did you get involved with the Jaycees?

Berry Williams: Uh.. I was a member of the- of the Jaycees from about '45, I guess.

Q: Well after your turn at Camp McMillan and Cameron what did you do after that?

Berry Williams: I was bookkeeper in the uh.. water department for the City of Wilmington.

Q: Okay.

Berry Williams: Bookkeeper and dispatcher.

Q: Did you have to go to school for that?

Berry Williams: Well I- I enrolled in uh.. the- the uh.. bookkeeping course at the uh.. original location of the Community College in the Isaac Bear Building.

Q: Okay.

Berry Williams: And uh.. I was planning to uh.. complete that but it- it just worked out that I had to find a-- I didn't have enough hours in the day to do the-- what I would need to do to complete my uh.. course at the uh.. at the college. So I- I switched to a correspondence course and uh.. that I had some experience, some little experience in bookkeeping, but I needed something more when I assumed the role of bookkeeper for the water department for the City of Wilmington.

Q: The water department. Not knowing, what was the community thought, I mean there had to have been some brass roots effort to get it to the point where this bond issue came about. Do you know anything about that process? I know Dr. Hovard was very involved with projecting this, can you give us a little bit more of a background on that?

Berry Williams: I guess the uh.. the organization that saw the need more keenly than any- any other group was the uh.. the Board of Education. The uh.. include- including the superintendent of schools and uh..--

Q: Locally or on the state level?

Berry Williams: Locally.

Q: Okay.

Berry Williams: See this was a local act. Aderson Hewlett was our-- who later became speaker of the House of Representatives in North Carolina was involved in it. He helped to get the bill through for the establish- establishment of the Community College and stayed with it and saw it move on up to Community College and then part of the uh.. university system.

Q: And you were in this thrust trying to get the bond approved?

Berry Williams: Yes, yes.

Q: What were you doing personally?

Berry Williams: Person to person contact, plus on election day, Dick Rochelle and I and a number of other groups within the Jaycees uh.. went door to door. We knew who was registered and we went door to door for the-- and to see the people who were registered to vote and encouraged them to vote and provided them a ride to the polls. So uh.. it- it went over real big. People were uh.. were tired of having to see our uh.. our children go somewhere else to get started and I a uh.. higher education level. Some-- many of them could not afford it and of course there was the convenience of- of uh.. having a child closer to home when they started climbing the ladder, education wise.

Q: I think I read somewhere that the Presbyterian College at one time had thought about coming here. Was there any other attempts of people trying to get a higher facility here?

Berry Williams: They uh.. well I know more of the details than I uh.. think we'll have time to go into. I- I just-- there-- that was a uh.. supposed possibility at one time.

Q: Uhm.. uh.. I even read that the Air Force considered putting an academy here too, that there was several different thoughts going on. But you guys had the strength of having the community support on that?

Berry Williams: Yes.

Q: What was your motivation to be involved with this? Did you have a school age child?

Joyce Williams: Not at that age.

Berry Williams: Not at that age, no. But uh.. all of us should be interested in looking ahead and seeing what the needs are, not just today but in the future. And I think a good many of us had a vision of what our city and county could become by becoming-- by being involved in those things that would make it a better place in which to live.

Q: I totally agree but it's just hard to get that kind of involvement in today's society.

Joyce Williams: Especially if you're a young man that--

Berry Williams: I had my life to look forward to.

Q: But you have to--

Berry Williams: Well in, I think the Jaycees they, let's see what was their uh.. motto. I should say our motto, I'm still a uh.. an honorary member. Young men learning civic consciousness through constructive action. And I think that's sign-- that sums it up pretty well.

Q: Exactly. Who were some of the other people, you mentioned Dick Rochelle, who were some of the other people involved in this?

Berry Williams: Marshall Crews.

Q: Okay. I know [inaudible].

Berry Williams: The-- a good portion of the Jaycees particularly those who could afford to take a day off from work were involved on that day. You know you couldn't always just say well I'm going to take that day off, or several days off to work in a campaign. You had to have your uh.. your employer's approval.

Q: Uhm.. uh..

Berry Williams: And of course I had the approval of- of my employers.

Q: What did this campaign really mean to the citizens of __________ County? It involved raising their taxes, right?

Berry Williams: Yes, yes. Well we emphasized that the benefit would far outweigh any costs that might be- might be incurred. And they- and they agreed, the voters agreed.

Q: What was the negative side of this? Did you hear arguments opposing this?

Berry Williams: Well you can always find some people who are opposed to- to anything that's worthwhile and we encountered that but I guess that kind of gave us the- the uh.. determination to work a little harder. To prove that it was- it was worth doing, it was worth paying for and after all we- we were and still are investing in our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren. And uh.. people have-- the community as a whole and the area as a whole we had- we have as you know people coming from other counties, other states even today. I guess we- we didn't fully visualize that back then, but it's- it's-- it was a building situation. We had a glimpse of what could become but we didn't really see the big picture as we see it today.

Q: Because geographically there's no other large university, you know, in this area, so it's not like a triangle area where you've got you know a congestion of higher education and so down here with a little ______ so all the surrounding counties were standing to benefit from this as well. Yet the burden was going to fall directly on the citizens of _____________ County. And I don't know whether you met that argument or you know kind of an answer for that kind of challenge?

Berry Williams: Well yes, yes we did. We- we I guess tried to make it clear that an investment of that type would pay big dividends down the road. And it pays- it pays big dividends to those families who can't afford to send uh.. a uh.. a child to Chapel Hill or somewhere. Once they get their foot in the door, get started here, if they need to go higher, they uh.. they'll find a way in many cases.

Q: And we know a lot of people who graduated here went on to four year programs, but they verbalized to us that without having Wilmington they would have never had that opportunity to do anything period.

Berry Williams: Well as an example my son went two years here, then he went to- to uh.. East Carolina for two years, graduated there. Then went to uh.. NC State for his master's degree.

Q: Did he come back to Wilmington at all?

Berry Williams: No, he's still living in Raleigh and--

Q: I know, I tried. It sounds like a lot of the fact of you being so positive about this probably transcended into the community and door to door campaign sounds pretty effective to me so the bond went through. What was your position at that time after the money was going to be there, did you stay involved with this development? Or--

Berry Williams: You mean with--

Q: Yeah, with the college, did you do anything else?

Berry Williams: Well I was real thankful that Dr. Randall when we had a dedication of one of the newest buildings out facing College Road. Uh.. I was one of the ones that he singled out as uh.. having been so helpful in uh.. as he put it in helping to get- get the uh.. institution started and continued. And uh.. of course I was- I was-- I really felt good about his- his uh.. word that were so kind and I learned along time ago when someone is saying something nice about you you don't- you don't argue with them even if they are stretching it a little.

Q: Did you have opportunity to meet any other presidents of Wilmington College? Like Dr. Anderson, not Dr. Anderson, Mr. Anderson?

Berry Williams: I- I think I've met all of them.

Q: Really? So how did you stay involved with the college for the years as a-- what activities did you participate in the college?

Berry Williams: In the college? Nothing that really uh.. is worth bragging about. I- I still support it, I still think it's-- I mean-- oh by the way my- my uh.. our great grandson is- is a little wildcat.

Joyce Williams: No a little seahawk.

Berry Williams: Oh I'm sorry, oh I'm-- my mind is going way back. He's a little- he's a little seahawk and uh.. of course I have to come out-- he's here you know how they participate in the--

Q: You were mentioned that before the interview when you were walking up, you said that he dresses up as a seahawk and comes to the games.

Joyce Williams: His little seahawk outfit, yes.

Q: Oh his little seahawk--

Joyce Williams: And- and the little seahawks there are other children, he's only five and they uh.. perform during the half time and they try to make basketball goals and oh it's a big deal with them.

Q: So this is like a life long involvement here. I mean you started with this initiative and you've been an interested citizen ever since and you took classes out here and you kind of maintained a relationship in one way or another here.

Berry Williams: Oh by the way I did take a course out here that I finished.

Q: Okay.

Berry Williams: Uh.. in criminal justice.

Q: Was that when the campus moved here?

Berry Williams: That was-- oh that was in fairly recent years.

Q: Right. We're also curious about Isaac Bear structure--

Joyce Williams: Jamie goes here.

Q: Who?

Berry Williams: My granddaughter.

Joyce Williams: His granddaughter is enrolled out here now. Even though she's expecting a child in October she still plans to take a course in October.

Q: I see those students all the time, they're strong people. And again, you know again it's not that large of a university the professors wouldn't work with somebody in that situation. The trying to get back to the Isaac Bear Building. We know that there's only one feature left remaining, the little gym that was there. Can you give us an idea of like why was Isaac Bear Building chosen or give us any clues to--

Berry Williams: It was available.

Q: I thought maybe it may have been the close proximity to [inaudible]--

Berry Williams: Oh it- it was almost directly across the street from uh.. New Hanover High, but it was a building that the Board of Education figured was the one most-- they could release for this purpose I guess. Uh.. and as I said the main reason that it was chosen, one of the main reasons at least is the fact that it was available. We didn't have- we didn't have money and didn't have time to get to build a new- a new structure and we needed to get the- the uh.. program started.

Q: Which--

Berry Williams: On the double.

Q: What is the timeframe on that? The bond goes through in '46? And then they have an academic school year by '47. That's pretty quick for starting a college up.

Berry Williams: We- we had the will to move to get on with the job.

Q: [inaudible]. Another effect that is not brought out too much but we are trying to find out more about it and at the time of the development of Wilmington College we are still under the separate but equal culture of what they call Jim Crowe society. Where African Americans attended another facility and Williston was the high school for the blacks and we know that a satellite campus at Wilmington College was associated with that high school. Did you have any knowledge of that or any participation with that?

Berry Williams: I don't remember the details of it. Next question.

Q: Okay.

Berry Williams: I will say this, if I may, uh.. Williston High School was a real credit to the school system of New Hanover County. They did- they did a tremendous job of educating their students and the students are still loyal. Those who went to Williston way back then are still loyal to Williston. They have a uh.. better understanding than either of us could have of just how much they benefited from that school. It was just a- an excellent school.

Q: And again, the development of having an institute of higher learning associated with that high school gave other people opportunity to advance their education as well. And you know another thing that we don't talk about is when Wilmington College began it wasn't a traditional academic type college, they had a lot of adult education, trade type courses. We know the first class that graduated was air conditioning-- Q1: Refrigeration and air conditioning.

Q: Refrigeration and air conditioning. Technical, very technical.

Berry Williams: Well you know that- that really was underway in the uh.. New Hanover High School system uh.. before Wilmington College was- was established.

Q: The vocational education?

Berry Williams: The vocational education.

Q: At post high school, is that what you're talking about? Or during high school?

Berry Williams: During high school.

Q: Well George West oversaw a lot of that?

Berry Williams: Yes.

Q: Boy that building has [inaudible].

Berry Williams: So the- the uh.. task of getting the- the program established in the Community College was not as difficult as it would have been if we hadn't already had a somewhat similar program underway in the uh.. high school program.

Q: And then we've had people mention that because of the advantage that the GI Bill afforded that it put money in people's hands that too that they were able to do this. And find something else, war time Wilmington we know was booming, you must have been here during that time?

Berry Williams: I was.

Q: What did you do during the war years?

Berry Williams: I was with McMillan and Cameron.

Q: You were with McMillan and Cameron.

Berry Williams: Yes.

Q: So all about the gas rationing and you were involved with that but we know the population of Wilmington tripled, quadrupled in size during--

Berry Williams: More than-- at least quadrupled.

Q: Very crowded.

Berry Williams: And some of the buildings that are still here were built because of war time Wilmington. Lake Forest, Lake Village, _________ Village and some are- are still in existence. Others have been torn down or uh.. a good portion of them torn down and rebuilt but those are.

Q: So the point that I'm getting to is because there was such an advance population here that kind of put Wilmington on more people's radar so putting a school here would alert more people to the area than maybe, I know didn't Marshall Crews, wasn't he at the Camp Davis and came back here?

Berry Williams: I'm not--

Q: And found out about the college opening, so I think--

Berry Williams: I'm not sure.

Q: --somehow or another were relationship here. So well let's give you a little break for a minute and go back and you said you came to Wilmington in 1962?

Joyce Williams: Yes.

Q: And you worked for the state courts?

Joyce Williams: Yes.

Q: Okay, and your position there was clerical?

Joyce Williams: I was a secretary.

Q: Was that a pretty place during this time?

Joyce Williams: Oh yes, and that's when secretaries still took shorthand dictation uh.. in fact I use my shorthand dictation out here at- at UNCW. I don't think they do that much anymore.

Q: Who did you work for in the state courts?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. Harry Jackson.

Q: Harry Jackson?

Joyce Williams: Yes, he was director of traffic.

Q: So that's a very big--

Joyce Williams: And the- the overall director was Jim Davis at that time, in fact I think everyone of the staff members that- that were there have died since. And Harry Jackson was the one that I was married to.

Q: Uhm.. uh..

Joyce Williams: And I was Joyce Jackson when I worked out here at Wilmington College and most of the time while I was out here, Berry and I were married in 1987, so I worked part time after I remarried Berry. I had retired in 1987 to look after my husband who was dying of cancer.

Q: Oh my goodness.

Joyce Williams: So I still once in a while when I hear a student say "Hey Ms. Jackson", I knew I knew them way back when.

Q: Certain time frame here.

Joyce Williams: Yes, because Berry and I have been married 18 years.

Q: Congratulations.

Berry Williams: Thank you.

Q: When did you come to the Wilmington College?

Joyce Williams: Nineteen sixty seven.

Q: And that was around when you married--

Joyce Williams: Yes, uhm.. uh..

Q: What department did you start working for?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. it was called the history department but there was history, geography, social studies, uh.. anyway though about five- five departments in one and that was in the administration building. So I think I worked for about 12, 13 professors.

Q: Now by the admin building do you mean Alderman Hall?

Joyce Williams: Yes, Alderman that was-- and that's also where the library was, when I came out here.

Q: Kind of multifunctional--

Joyce Williams: Oh yes.

Q: --small building. Who was the head of this department?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. Duncan Randall.

Q: Duncan Randall.

Joyce Williams: And then later he resigned as uh.. chairman and Tom Mosley, Dr. Mosley was the chairman.

Q: So you go way back to Wilmington College right before it goes into being part of the university system which happens in 1969?

Joyce Williams: Yes, in fact I addressed everyone of the invitations to all of the dignitaries who came out here that participated in those services and helped to adjust their robes and everything before they went on stage. Dr. Wagoner's first grade teacher was here as a special uh.. guest at that time. Before Dr. Randall uh.. retired or stepped down as being the president of Wilmington College it's my understanding that he had everything in line for it to go university system and then he stepped down. And the day he stepped down there was not a dry eye on campus. Everybody cried, because everybody was just crazy about Dr. Randall. He knew everybody by name, he made it his business to know everybody by name. He knew of-- he'd ask about your family, uh.. he was just really tops.

Q: Did he-- well he was located in the Alderman Building?

Joyce Williams: Yes.

Q: His office?

Joyce Williams: His office, yes.

Q: So you were in close proximity to where he's at daily?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. well of course I was upstairs in the history department at the time uh.. but I knew who he was and he knew my name. Like I say he made it his business to know everybody's name on campus. And a lot of the students he knew.

Q: Now was Mildred Johnson still teaching during this time? I don't remember--

Joyce Williams: That name sounds familiar but I don't really know her.

Berry Williams: She was his- his sister-in-law wasn't she?

Q: Right, uh.. uh.. Dr. Randall married Mary Johnson and she went by the name of Mott and she was Mildred Johnson's sister, I didn't know whether you knew her?

Joyce Williams: No.

Berry Williams: I knew her she was a fine person.

Q: Miss Mott or Mildred?

Berry Williams: Mildred. I might have known the other one, but I- I knew- I knew that I knew Mildred ________.

Q: She goes back to the very beginning of this campus, I don't think she was one, well she was one of the beginning-- she was an instructor of-- she did history, social studies and then she started the drama department, right, before Doug Swank arrived. So you know we're just trying to find origins of people, because I-- during the time that you were in the history department 1967 to 1987, when did you retire?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. well I stayed in the history department a year and then I went to, it was called College Relations, because we were still and worked for David Warner. Uh.. and I can't remember how many years I worked for him. When you went to work at Wilmington College you were mostly put where you were needed, not exactly where you may wanted to have been.

Q: Really?

Joyce Williams: Yes, you were moved around and Wilmington College, I meant the College Relations handled the mailings of the catalogues that we set up for any kind of party or any kind of function they had. We had the placement office, uh.. you name it and College Relations did it. If nobody else wanted to do it that was College Relations job.

Q: Who oversaw that department?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. David Warner. And he's still living by the way and his daughter who graduated from here is a uh.. cardiologist at the hospital, Debbie.

Q: Really?

Joyce Williams: Yes, so she's- so she's still local.

Q: Interesting. How long did you stay there?

Joyce Williams: I don't remember, because then somehow I went to Student Affairs Office, like I say you necessarily didn't go where you wanted to go. Uh.. you were said, "Hey we need you in such and such department."

Q: Did they do that with everybody or just you?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. well some of them who were in the academic departments just stayed in the same academic department. But uh.. I had asked to be moved from the history department. So they found a place for me and- and they were expanding the College Relations at that time and- and really needed a secretary in that department.

Q: You couldn't have gotten bored because you were constantly learning new things and meeting new people?

Joyce Williams: Oh that's right.

Q: College Relations especially.

Joyce Williams: Yes.

Q: The news releases.

Joyce Williams: Oh well Gwen uh.. Culprit did those, she was Gwen Croom at the time and since then she has remarried and she's still here in town somewhere I think.

Q: [inaudible]?

Joyce Williams: Well she was here a long time.

Q: Like a star and news byline or something?

Joyce Williams: Yes, she was the Mimi Cunningham.

Q: Okay, then you went to Student Affairs, who was over Student Affairs?

Joyce Williams: Uh.. at that time uhm.. Dr. Crews and he was fondly known by me as Dino, but I had started calling him Dino before I ever went to work for him. And then I was informed by uh.. one of the deans you did not call him Dino, you called him Dr. Crews.

Q: Was he the dean of student affairs?

Joyce Williams: Uh..

Q: At that time--

Joyce Williams: He was- he was, well they were, he was over the other two deans, there was Tom Brown and Helen McCheek (ph?) and they were- they were two deans, but at, so he was known as a--

Q: He has been [inaudible]--

Joyce Williams: Yeah, yeah that, I think then they put him as vice chair-- I believe he was-- maybe was the first Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. But I was working uh.. in that office area but I still kept the Placement Office and I also helped worked for the Veteran Affairs office and you name it and I just had a uh.. a lot of uh.. different departments that uh.. well it all had to do kind of with administration of the college. And I kept the- the Placement Office until Sandra Harkin was finally hired for career planning and placement. That was kind of a side line, it was kind of like a redheaded step child it was something necessary that we needed to have, uh.. we had no room for it, we didn't have a department for it. Uh.. we had even had- had to put the interviewers in a storage room. Yeah, it uh.. and at one time right after the library was built there was no place for an interviewer to come on campus and interview. So we had little small study rooms in this new library in this building and it took some tall talking for me to get one of those rooms in order to put the interviewer in so they could interview the students. So that, placement was a kind of redheaded step child.

Q: Did you run this office single handedly then?

Joyce Williams: Well, oh yeah, well I did that plus I was secretary to uh.. uh.. Dr. Malloy who at that time was Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Q: Right.

Joyce Williams: And of course I use to say that anything that anybody else didn't want to handle that was also a student affair. So- so they would uhm.. put that in our office too and by then we had a university Relations Department uh.. but somehow in between those times, my husband who was at State ________ had already retired and we wanted to travel. So for- for a while I just quit my job and we traveled in a travel trailer all over the United States and joined the Airstream Club and then I did that two or three times because he would get itchy feet and want to travel. And he'd say, "Okay, quit your job, we're going again." So-- and that's one of the reasons I worked for so many different departments, because when I did-- when we did come back to town and I wanted to go back to work I'd come back out here and say, "Hey what you got available?", and so that's how I wound up in Financial Aid Office.

Q: Well they knew the quality of your work, and they knew you'd adapt.

Joyce Williams: Well I never had any problem getting a job when I came back uh.. in fact uh.. when I came back from one of those traveling jaunts, uh.. Dr. Wagoner said, "Okay, we're going to find a place for you, now don't go to work for anybody else." And at that time there was a- a big problem in student government association, the secretary in there had just been fired, there had been, they were going to impeach the SGA president and--

Q: I remember reading that in the Seahawk.

Joyce Williams: --and- and so, Dr. Wagoner said, "Joyce we need you there.", he said, "The salary is very, very low, but you take this job and if you can keep the students-- they had chosen up sides, if you can keep them from killing each other I'm going to see that you get the Nobel Peace Prize." So Dr. Wagoner was always, he would always try to find a place for me to go. So they- they knew that I was a hard worker.

Q: So that's when you went to, when they had problems with SGA is that when you ended up in Student Affairs again or--

Joyce Williams: Uh.. well uhm.. well kind of, uh.. I think Susan Goodrun was hired right after uh.. I got out of the SGA and then I went into Student Affairs again with uh.. Dr.- Dr. Malloy when he was hired to come on campus.

Q: And you were in financial aid too?

Joyce Williams: Yeah, for five years, well after working in uh.. Student Affairs Office, my husband decided that he wanted to travel again, so I quit my job again and we started traveling again and when I came back on campus, there was no job except the financial aid office. Uh.. I worked in that for five years, that was my least favorite job on the whole campus. And Joe Capel (ph?) was the director of Financial Aid. And he's back- he's back in Wilmington, at one time he had moved out and in fact he's one of the chaplains at the-- at New Hanover Hospital. I see him from time to time now. Uhm.. uh..--

Q: This is why we like talking to people, because we find these very strong relationships back out into the community, going back to what you were talking about. If you build this institution it's going to benefit the community so many times over and so we retain people, you know here in the community that would have gone elsewhere if it had not been for here.

Berry Williams: It has made a difference in the past and it continues to make a difference. I went-- why don't we take about a one minute break, I want-- forget about this-- let this be time out.

Q: Okay.

Berry Williams: I want Joyce to tell you about--

Q: Do you want me to turn the camera off?

Berry Williams: It doesn't make any difference, you- you'll just show what you want to show.

Q: Okay.

Berry Williams: I want Joyce to tell you about the last time her husband, by the way we met a number of years earlier, we really didn't know each other. Uh.. but the last time that he left home, tell you-- I'd like for her to tell you where he went.

Joyce Williams: Oh, well my husband was dying of cancer and the doctor told him that he was not going to make it, for him to get his business affairs in order. His mind was always very sharp and he-- every morning I'd go out and get the paper, I had to read the paper to him, because he was not able at that time to even read it, but he liked to keep up with things. He- he told me, he said, "You come in here and get my clothes on me.", I said, "Where in the world do you think you're going?", because he was in no shape to go anywhere. He said, "I'm going to go vote for Berry Williams for mayor." And he said, "I think he would make a real good mayor." I said, "Are you sure you feel up to that?", and he said, "Yes, come in here and get--" see he wasn't even able to dress himself. So it was a big ordeal for me to get him some street clothes on and get him in the car and carry him some, we'd then have to get him back out of the car uhm.. and anyway, he loaded, that was the last time he ever got up out of bed to go anywhere was to go vote for Berry for mayor and here I wound up married to Berry.

Berry Williams: And you heard her mention earlier that they traveled with in an Airstream and with an Airstream group a lot of the time. One of the things that I told her after I proposed to her and she said yes, I said, "Now I need to let you know this before- before you say I do. I am not going to be caught towing one of those tin cans up and down the road." And what did we do Joyce?

Joyce Williams: Well since then we've had a-- the tin can in 49 states and all of Canada. So he ate his words, well I also told him that I had back trouble and I wasn't about to do yard work, because I had lived in a condo for 15 years and I didn't have to do yard work. Well he had an acre and a half of yard over on Carolina Beach Road, I wound up helping to do yard work and he also pulled the tin can up and down the road.

Berry Williams: Oh, tell them one other thing, while we're resting.

Joyce Williams: What's that?

Berry Williams: About the uh.. morning after you said I will.

Joyce Williams: Oh, okay, Berry had proposed to me uhm.. he had- he had-- we had been out some place and he said, "Come to my house, let's see what has torn loose.", because he was mayor at the time. And see what has- what-- what messages I may have on my recorder so I went home with him and every message that he had was about five or six, it was Berry, syrupy sweet voices, can you give me a call this is so and so, and it was always a female. So I told him I said, "I'll tell you what, I'm going to tell you yes, I'll marry you just to get all these women off your back, so they'll leave you alone." I said, "But I-- only if we'll have a long engagement, I was up to five years." I said, "I don't want to jump into anything.", so uh.. he promised that we would do that and then we decided, I said, "We've only been going together a month.", I said "And that's awfully early, I don't want this to get out anywhere.", so he promised that he would keep it a secret. The next morning I came to work, I was working part time in Dr. Wagoner's office and Dr. Bear was uh.. the assistant to the chancellor at that time, George Bear.

Q: George Bear.

Joyce Williams: Uh.. uh.. and uh.. and he since has died.

Q: Right.

Joyce Williams: Uhm.. channel three came in and- and I looked at them I said, uh.. they came in with the cameras and all, I said, "Dr. Wagoner is out of town.", I said, "Uh.. you should have called before you came." They said, "We're not here to see Dr. Wagoner, we're here to see Joyce Jackson." I said, "Well I'm Joyce Jackson, what do you want?", he said, "Well we heard that you became engaged to the mayor last night." I said, "How in the world did you know that?", and anyway Dr. Bear said, "Joyce what's going on out there?", I said, "Channel three is here.", he said, "Did you tell them Dr. Wagoner is not here.", and I walked to his door and I said, "Yes sir, I did.", I said "But they're here to see me.", he said, "What have you done?", I said, "Well I don't know how they found out, but I promised Berry Williams that I would marry him last night and I don't know how in the world they found out." He said, "I'll handle this.", he got up from his desk and he went out he said, "Come on in, I think it's a good idea." So while they were there the telephone rang and they told me, they said "You just go about your business we're just setting up the camera and all." It was Berry on the telephone and Berry said, he said, "I don't know what's happened, but Channel six is here in my office, they found out I became engaged last night." I said, "How in the world did they find out?", I said, "Channel three is over here at my office." And he said, "I don't know, I didn't tell anybody but Penny." Well Penny Sidberry was his secretary, well Penny, later she admitted, she said, "I got tired of all these women calling for- for the Mr. Mayor, which is what she called him and I just decided that I would tell them about it, so the women would get off his back." So that's how the news got out.

Q: That's incredible.

Joyce Williams: Yes.

Q: What year was this?

Joyce Williams: That was 19 uh.. '87, when we got married.

Q: How long were you mayor?

Berry Williams: One term.

Q: Just one term, so that was '86 to '88?

Joyce Williams: Eighty five to eighty seven.

Q: Eighty five to eighty seven. Interesting.

Joyce Williams: And that's when I finally stopped working at UNCW, because he would want me to go with him somewhere and I knew things were coming up and trying to work anyway, I said, "Dr. Wagoner I just can't continue to work here.", and Dr. uh.. Doug, he was vice chancellor for advancement, Doug Moore, Dr. Doug Moore was vice chancellor for advancement and he found out that I was going to quit. And he said, "I tell you what, if you'll come to work for us.", he said, "I'll work with you anyway I can." He said, "Then if you have to come back and work on a half of day or something when you're not suppose to, if you'll promise to do that, we'll let you off, anytime you need to." Well then we wound up going to Germany and I- and I knew we were going to be gone for a while and I finally just said, "Hey, you know, I really need to quit.", because what Berry was doing was interfering with- with me needing too much time off. So I finally quit for the last time in 1989.

Q: You were a part time--

Joyce Williams: I was- I was part time, I had-- in fact I had already uh.. started drawing my retirement when-- Dr. Wagoner got in touch with me after my husband died and he said, "Joyce, I need you to come back on campus.", I said, "But Dr. Wagoner my retirement is all ready set up." He said, "Well if you will agree to come back and work in my office part time.", he said, uh.. "That will not interfere with your retirement at all." So I worked in Dr. Wagoner's office--

Berry Williams: Another tidbit--

Joyce Williams: --for a while. Yeah.

Berry Williams: That uh.. and I- I won't mention anything else. Uh.. and don't tell anybody but she and I were married twice within a period of about--

Joyce Williams: Oh I forgot about that.

Berry Williams: --within a period of about what?

Joyce Williams: Two weeks.

Berry Williams: Two weeks.

Joyce Williams: Well ten days, at the time--

Q: How did that work?

Joyce Williams: Well at the- at the time that Berry was- was mayor he had gone over to uh.. Dan Dong to form a sister city relationship with China.

Q: Oh man.

Joyce Williams: Okay, so the mayor about ten days before we were married, the mayor from Dan Dong decided to come back over here for a return visit, which is about-- we had already planned to get married and our-- the announcement and all had been made of this long engagement that we were suppose to have had. Uh.. there was a world trade meeting that was going on, is that what it was? And one of our professors here, Dennis uh.. Dennis Carter, Dr. Carter was kind of emceeing this and at the end of the trade thing with the Chinese there you know as special guests and everything. Uh.. Dennis Carter and I knew him really well while I was on campus. He said, "We have a special surprise for everybody.", he said, "The mayor of Dan Dong China is allowed to marry people in China because he has a lot of uh.. privileges and all that the mayor here in Wilmington did not have." He said, "So he wanted to see these two married, so he is going to marry them." So in Chinese before everybody they called us up there and they married us in Chinese and then of course we got married again in Masonburg Baptist Church which was Berry's church at the time. I don't know, this probably be on campus--

Q: Where was that--

Joyce Williams: This is- this is funny, taking the uh.. Mayor Chon Ping and the other Chinese delegation back to the airport the next day, we were riding with a uh-- had a policeman because they were from Red China. Had a policeman who was doing the driving and I told the- told the uh.. Mayor Chon Ping, I said, "You got me in trouble last night.", he said, "How so?" Now all of this was done through an interpreter.

Q: Uh.. uh..

Joyce Williams: And I think he really knew more English than what he admitted to. And I said, "Well when we got home last night, Berry wanted to come on in and uh.. he said after all he said you know we can go ahead and start our honeymoon because after all we are married.", and- and the mayor looked at me and he said, "Well did you start your honeymoon?"

Q: Oh my goodness.

Joyce Williams: So we all had a big laugh, he had a good sense of humor and while you're changing that I'm going to tell--

Repository:
UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database
Found in:
Randall Library | UNCW Archives and Special Collections | Online Database | Contact Us | Admin Login
Powered by Archon Version 3.21 rev-1
Copyright ©2012 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign