Going about God’s business can offer one many roads in which to follow. For one Sampson County woman, the path has led her to share the Good News for over 46 years.
Mae Bell Williamson has been reporting the happenings for Browns Chapel Church news for just that long. And due to the popularity of her column, published each week in The Sampson Independent, her reporting has expanded over the years to include a sizable number of African-American churches, not only in Clinton but throughout the entire county.
Williamson was born in Sampson County, although she will not tell you when, to the late Preston Sr. and Alice Weeks. She was one of five children. Her sister Minnie Butler worked as a teacher with the Clinton City Schools. “I had four brothers, Jessie, Chevis, Arthur and Preston Jr. They are all gone now,” expressed Williamson.
After graduating from Sampson High School in 1951, Williamson attended Elizabeth City State Teacher’s College for one year prior to returning to Clinton and marrying Eddie Williamson and starting her family. The couple will celebrate their 59th anniversary in September.
“I had a professor in college to call me out in class one day and had the class to look at my writing because he felt it was so beautiful and well written. I have been inspired to write from that day until now,” asserted Williamson.
The couple have two daughters, Marilyn Wright and Bonnie Morrisey. They also have four grandchildren, Sekila, Lacreatia and CJ Morrisey and Teneshia Wright. “I have two great-grandchildren also, Laquan and Celest Rich,” expressed the proud great-grandmother.
Throughout her life ,Williamson has been very dedicated to her church and her God. As she has worked over the years prior to her retirement, she spent time spreading the news of God and opportunities to serve him with others.
“Miss Mae Bell” as she is affectionately called by many of her family and friends, began working at Countywide Sewing Factory, the first black sewing factory in the county. “I began working there and soon worked my way up to supervisor. I even taught the new people how to sew,” explained Williamson.
About 1966, the columnist began working as a teacher assistant with the Clinton City Schools. “I worked as a teacher’s assistant for 27 years and loved helping the children learn. Many times I wished I had returned to school and finished my degree,” expressed Williamson. She worked at L. C. Kerr and Butler Avenue over the years, mainly in kindergarten and some in second grade.
Not only did she work with the schools, Williamson also worked part-time with Roses and also taught an adult education class at Sampson Community College for 10 years. “I would even go around and pick my students up and take them to class. I really enjoyed being able to share with them over the years,” said Williamson.
When she began writing her column, she did so for The Sampsonian. Then she went over to The Sampson Independent when the papers merged. It is a service she loves.
“My phone starts ringing early Monday mornings and I spend the whole day writing my column. I try to get it to the paper’s office before the end of the day Monday each week. I have been told from people everywhere I go, ‘I read your column.’ Now people tell me they read it online. Isn’t God good? The past 46 years of serving Sampson and adjoining counties in writing the Browns Chapel column have been a great honor for me,” shared Williamson.
She and her husband spend a lot of time serving God at their church, Browns Chapel. Williamson has served as past president of the senior ministry and is current president of the senior choir. “I do a lot at the church to encourage people to come and also work to get new people to come join us. I hope that I have been an inspiration to others. My husband and I both do,” remarked Williamson.
Ron Whitted, a member of Williamson’s Annual Appreciation Program planning committee, described her efforts to spread the news to and for others. “We would like to pay tribute to Mae Bell Williamson for dedication to the church in Sampson County and other area counties. We are deeply indebted to her for making sure that our church news and community activities are printed in every Wednesday’s publication of The Sampson Independent. Because of her, our church news reaches home and communities to help bring unity for God’s children. She is and has been there for us for many years. We are so thankful for the opportunity to tell her we love and appreciate her,” shared Whitted.
Williamson concluded her interview with this statement, “I have accomplished a lot together with God as my guide and leader. These 46 years represent the trials I have gotten through, the decision which had to be made, so that the work of God could continue. Also over the years I have gone through many changes but I have been able to endure these because of God’s marvelous grace that has kept me and brought me through.”