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Julia   Sensing  Williams

Obituary  and   Tribute

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Julia Sensing Williams, the 94-year-old matriarch of the Williams family that owns The Post-Intelligencer, died late Saturday morning, June 7, 2008, at her home in Paris.

She’s survived by her husband, P-I Editor Emeritus W. Bryant Williams, whose 94th birthday will be June 30. Their 75th wedding anniversary would have been Sept. 25.

The funeral service is scheduled at 2 p.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church in Paris. The Revs. Bonnie Pettijohn and Douglas Scott will officiate. Burial will follow at Memorial Cemetery.

Visitation is planned 4-7 p.m. today at McEvoy Funeral Home and after 1 p.m. Tuesday at the church.

The P-I office will be closed 1:30-3 p.m. Tuesday for the funeral.

Born Oct. 2, 1913, in Paris, she was the 13th and last surviving child of the L&N Railroad’s chief dispatcher in Paris, James Daniel Sensing, and his wife, Cora Stovall Sensing, now both deceased.

Mrs. Williams started the long-time, semiweekly “We Hear” column in The P-I in the 1940s, later written by Joan Bell. During the years, she held down a variety of jobs at The P-I. They included running a job press, working as society editor and serving as vice president of Paris Publishing Co. Inc., the family corporation which publishes The P-I.

A 1931 graduate of Grove High School, she was the oldest member of First Presbyterian Church, a lifetime member of Presbyterian Women and a former Janusette Delphian. She was an avid golfer and bridge player.

Other survivors include a son, P-I Editor Emeritus Bill (Anne) Williams of Paris; four grandchildren, Cindy (Jim) Barnett of Murray, P-I Editor and Publisher Michael (Evonne) Williams of Paris, Julie (Doug) Ray of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joan (Scott) Stevens of Paris; 11 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.

She also was preceded in death by five sisters, including Patye Tutt Aden and Dorothy Berry Hagaman; and seven brothers, including Arthur, Joe W. and Grover Sensing.


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Post Script

Sweet dreams, Mom, and thanks

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During World War II, with so many husbands in the military, this country had a lot of temporarily single moms. My mother was one of them.

A fresh survivor of the Great Depression, she knew a lot about scraping by.

She received a monthly allotment check from Dad’s military pay, but soldiers didn’t make a lot, even when they wore gold bars on their shoulders.

Up until middle age or later, she always worked. To say that she came from a “working class” family is no denigration. Her hands and mind were always busy.

She filled a variety of jobs around the family newspaper, especially after Dad came back from the war, but the one that made her known was her twice-weekly column, “We Hear,” by all odds the most popular column this paper ever had.

It appeared on the front page every Monday and Friday in the late 1940s, offering tidbits of information she worked hard to dig up.

It was mostly about people, and the names were always in capital letters. Maybe that was one reason why it was so popular. Sometimes these were news tidbits and sometimes wry observations, like this one: “Catching BENNETT COLEMAN without a big seegar clenched between his teeth is as difficult as sticking a lump of butter in a wildcat’s eye with a red-hot awl.”

Not infrequently, the column had nuggets of real news, published before the official announcements came about. The same column one day had two such items.

One was about a conference between the local Young Business Men’s Club (forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce), legislators and officials of Gov. Jim McCord’s Conservation Department about the possibility of beginning work on construction of Paris Landing State Park.

The same column talked about a proposal to combine construction of a new building at Grove High School with creating Legion Memorial Stadium on South Market Street.

The building became Weston Hall, erected in part because, as the column explained, “For a decade, even high school games and tournaments have filled the City Auditorium to overflowing.”

Mom was smart, a worker of New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles, about the toughest there are. She dabbled in poetry, and her wit came through in one called, “Snow on March 21”:

“Earth, full and bursting with beauty,

Turned capricious, not very discreet

And proved herself a woman by

Birthing spring on a snowy sheet.”

She was a cute thing as a youngster, and my parents, high school sweethearts, eloped in 1933 to marry in Paducah.

My paternal grandmother sniffed in disgust, “That marriage won’t last six months.” Mom died Saturday, less than four months from her 75th wedding anniversary.

She was a lifelong smoker, even in advanced age, and the habit obviously ruined her health. She only lived to 94.

The ravages of age robbed her of the wealth of memories she had compiled in a long life, but we who are left treasure the crumbs we have picked up under the table.

Sweet dreams, Mom.

Bill Williams is editor emeritus of The Post-Intelligencer. He can be reached by e-mail at billannewilliams@bellsouth.net.


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Reprinted from the Paris Post-Intelligencer
Paris, Tennessee
Used by permission