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Saturday, September 30, 2023
Starts at 11:00am (Eastern time)
Mrs. Shirley Thornton Williams died peacefully at her home on the afternoon of September 12, 2023. She was born August 12, 1934 in Reidsville, North Carolina to the late William Morgan Thornton and Annie Coleman Thornton. Her death was preceded by the deaths of her husband James Thomas Williams and her younger son Fred Cline Pierce. She was the youngest in her family, also being preceded in death by her sisters Geraldine T. Smith, Clarice T. Edwards, and brother Leonard Thornton.
After graduating from high school in Reidsville, she received a B.A. from Flora MacDonald College and then later attended The University of Illinois where she received her M.Ed. degree. A few years later she went on to attend The Spanish Language Institute in San Jose, Costa Rica. Her teaching career spanned San Jose, Costa Rica, Cali, Colombia, Tullahoma and McKenzie, Tennessee, Tallahassee, Florida, and ultimately led her back to her hometown of Reidsville. Although she had taught science, math, and English, she retired as a Special Education teacher from Reidsville Junior High. Teaching Special Education as well as earlier teaching mentally handicapped young people was her true specialty.
She was a lifelong member of The First Presbyterian Church of Reidsville. She put her love of God into daily, practical use in all that she did and wrote that her relationship with her church was her “dearest association.” She was a years-long member of the choir, served as an elder, substitute organist, Circle Moderator, and participant in the Meals on Wheels project. She was practically a Biblical scholar, but also knew her share of “off-color” jokes. Her sense of humor was almost always turned on. She was as human and wonderful as you’ll ever find.
Her survivors include older son David Pierce, Jr., stepdaughters Ann Hauser and Susan Buckner, and stepson David Williams. Her step granddaughters Catherine Mills, Rebecca Hurdle, and Erin Williams, as well as her step great granddaughters and grandson Madison Mills, Trent Mills, Ann Elizabeth and Catie Hurdle were ongoing sources of joy for her. She is also survived by nephews Thornton Lee Smith and Stuart Smith and nieces Sabra S. McMichael and Margaret Feinberg. Her friends and neighbors were very dear to her and selflessly helped take care of her during her final months. Lifelong friend Mrs. Shirley Medley and 45+ year friend Mrs. Jennifer Rakes added many months, if not years, to her life too. Aides Deb Wallace, Amanda Jones, and Adrienne Weston took flawless and technically perfect care of her at her home. Rockingham County Hospice and Kim Pyron, R.N. were instrumental in her last few days and hours being as painless, peaceful, and comfortable as they could have possibly been.
She was very generous and had several organizations she enjoyed giving to. Her favorites included The First Presbyterian Church of Reidsville, The Bible Broadcasting Network of Charlotte, N.C., and Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, N.C.
In her memory she would simply ask that we love God and love each other.
Her funeral service will be Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 11:00am at The First Presbyterian Church, 318 S. Main Street, in Reidsville, North Carolina, with Reverend Wes Pitts presiding.