Joyce Williams of Fenton, Mo., the 2004 Parent of the Year at the University of Missouri-Rolla, provides inspiration and encouragement to her son, Charles Williams, a senior in physics at UMR.
Williams was honored Saturday, Oct. 30, as the UMR Parent of the Year. The award is sponsored by the UMR Parents’ Association and is presented every year as part of UMR’s Family Day activities.
In nominating his mother for the award, Charles Williams writes, "She is the biggest encouragement, most loyal fan, best and longest friend, loudest voice of conscience and reason, biggest motivator, and greatest inspiration of our lives: past, present and future."
Charles’ parents separated when he was in elementary school and while he and his father remained close, seeing him was difficult because they lived in different towns. "My mother was essentially a single parent, but kept us involved in anything we wanted to do including high school clubs, sports and Boy Scouts, all while keeping a successful career as a public educator," he said.
After his brother went to college, Charles and his mother became even closer. "Toward the end of high school, it became a nightly tradition to go out to dinner and talk about her day, my day, and anything else for hours on end," he said. When it came time to apply to college, she encouraged Charles to apply to UMR because she has five brothers who are alumni. During Charles’ sophomore year at UMR, his father died of a heart attack. "At that point my mother was the strongest support I had," he said. "Mom took off work to help my brother and I plan the funeral. She even drove up to Rolla from my hometown to help me pick out songs and readings for the funeral, since I had a rehearsal for a play that I was performing in that week."
Joyce recently retired from her position as school principal last year and moved to Fenton, Mo., where she teaches. She is active in the Boy Scouts and has received numerous honors for her contributions as a volunteer to rural and Catholic Scouting.
"I am sure I speak for my brother when I say that we owe a large debt of gratitude to our mother for our accomplishments thus far, and for the fine, upstanding men we are today."