Miss Lela Lee Williams
Born July 20, 1883 Deceased February 19, 1974
Lela Lee Williams was born and raised in Willis Point, Texas. "Her father Henry Nelson Williams and grandfather, W.J. Davidson, were repeatedly elected school trustees, maintaining an interest in education until they died in 1899."
Miss Williams began her teaching career in the Wills Point elementary school after she received her teaching certificate from Sam Houston Normal Institute in Huntsville, Texas. During the summers she taught primary methods and speech in the normal schools and teachers institutes of East and North Texas.
A shortage of funds in spring 1907 caused the Wills Point School to close, but Miss Williams received an offer from New Iberia Parish in Louisiana for a position as acting principal and primary teacher for the remainder of the year. As she was deciding whether to remain in Louisiana or to return to Wills Point, she received word from the Dallas Board of Education of her election to a position there. From September 1908 to her retirement in 1953, she remained with the Dallas school system.
Through the years Lela Lee Williams obtained a B.A. degree from North Texas State Normal College and an M.A. from the Colorado State Teachers College in Greeley. She did graduate work in primary methods and speech at the University of Chicago, the University of Colorado and Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City.
Lela Lee Williams' contributions to the profession included her activities in educational organizations. In 1917 she was elected the first president of the Dallas Grade Teachers Association. In 1919 she helped organize the Texas Grade Teachers Association and became its first president. "Miss Williams led a movement for informing the public of the needs of children, of teachers and of Dallas in the way of educational improvement. The net result was a $400 raise for teachers in the city system, a higher minimum pay and in increased monthly increment toward a higher maximum pay." In 1920 she was elected president of the Texas State Teachers Association - the first classroom teacher and the second woman to serve in that office. (Dr. Blanton was the first woman elected president in 1917.)
Because of her association with Dr. Blanton, who was State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Texas from 1918-1922, Lela Lee Williams was a natural choice to help found Delta Kappa Gamma. After the initiation, Miss Williams began planning to establish a chapter in Dallas. On October 26, 1929, Epsilon Chapter was installed. Lela Lee served as chapter president 1933-1935 and remained a member of that chapter for forty-four years.
At the national level, Miss Williams served as recording secretary (1929-1933), as chairman of the Committee on Retirement (1930-1936), the Membership Committee (1946-1948), the Figurines Committee (1949-1950), and the Personnel Committee (1954-1956), and as a member of eight other national and international committees through the years. She represented the founders on the National Planning Committee from 1950-1952 and on the Administrative Board from 1960-1962.
Miss Williams passed away on February 19, 1974, near Dallas, Texas. Her funeral was attended by members of the Administrative Board, who happened to be meeting in Dallas at that time. At the graveside ceremony for Lela Lee Williams, Ruth Johnson, Epsilon Chapter, concluded her remarks saying, "Her thoughtfulness to the new member, to the visitor; her notes of encouragement to those in leadership, to those in illness, pain or joy, even to husbands when good things happened in their work--all bespeak in the magnanimity of one who walked humbly, of one who kept the common touch when we would have so gladly made her royalty, of one who loved every person who came in contact with her and lifted them up to see their own potential of service. She touched our lives in a very meaningful way. To live in the hearts of others is not to die."