The great Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
Mae Bell Williamson embodied those words. She was an unsung hero, a woman who went about her life’s work quietly but effectively, always intent on serving her Lord first, others following closely behind. Along the way she touched the lives of many, either in her capacity as a long-time teacher assistant for Clinton City Schools or as the bearer of good news for churches across the county as a decades-long correspondent for The Sampson Independent.
No matter the task at hand, Williamson went about it with great gusto, putting her own special mark on every project she touched.
As a teacher assistant, first at Kerr and later at Butler Avenue, Williamson was well loved — and often sought out — by students. Her infectious smile was always there to greet them, and a warm hug was never far behind, offering them security when they felt bad or needed a boost of confidence and a listening ear when they just needed someone to share a story or a bit of good news.
Williamson took her job seriously, and she did it well, always believing that the example she set during her time with children would be one the youngsters could carry with them and, hopefully, glean something good from each day.
She took just as seriously her other job, that of Brown’s Chapel correspondent for The Sampson Independent, spreading the good news for churches across our county for over 40 years.
She treasured her weekly column and used it to plant seeds of faith and inspiration each week, always remembering to seek prayer for those who’d lost a loved one or for all those homebound and unable to do for themselves. Williamson believed her job as correspondent was to reach the churched and unchurched alike, detailing for them what religious offerings were available each week and gently encouraging attendance at one or more of those services.
She served as a vital conduit for dozens of Sampson churches, too, offering them a weekly place to get their word out about the great gospel messages being preached from pulpits and sang from choir lofts. And people responded. It wasn’t unusual for her to tell stories of filled church pews, people responding to her columns and the gentle reminders to be a part of something special, something touched by the hand of God.
She fought tenaciously for her churches, too, and the space she believed they deserved, always reminding us that there was no greater mission for a community newspaper than delivering church news to its readers, helping spread a message of hope. And Williamson often got the space she wanted — even on days when pages were tight — because we knew she was right.
Her admonition that people often bought Wednesday’s paper because they were seeking information from her column was a testament to the pride she took in first helping churches and second in helping ensure our community paper remained about the community.
It was a life’s work she did well and one no one else will ever be able to do any better.
As Isaiah wrote in Chapter 52, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation …”
Every week Williamson brought that good news in her own unique and beautiful way. Her dedication was tireless, her efforts unyielding. What she did through her weekly column was important and valued by citizens who sought it out each week, churches who used it as a means of telling their stories and this newspaper for the service it provided to so many.
Even when illness first began to ravage her body, Williamson continued to write her column, putting every ounce of energy she had left into delivering the news she believed had to get out each week.
“They need me,” Williamson said in the months before her passing. “It’s my job … it’s my calling.”
Indeed it was her calling, a life’s work well done.