With a smile on her face and a song in her heart, Madeline Johnson Williams has slipped away to her next wonderful adventure.

Born in Norfolk, Via., on Aug. 1, 1929, to Ezekiel and Susie Johnson, Madeline was a precocious child in a close-knit loving family where education and the idea that everyone is important were fundamental. At 19 she graduated from Hampton (Virginia) University with a degree in English and at 20 she had earned a master's degree in Philosophy from Columbia University.

She taught high school English for 15 years, first in Delaware, eventually moving on to teach in Pennsylvania and New York City. From New York, Madeline moved to Camden, N.J., where she not only taught but also served as guidance counselor and Adult Education director. She had such an impact on students' lives that 50 years later they were still sending pictures of their families and inviting her to reunions.

In 1962, Madeline fell in love with Bradley Williams and they were married. They moved to Green Valley (Arizona) in 1979, and very quickly became indispensable not only at St. Francis-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church but also to the Green Valley community. Bradley passed away in 2006, after a long illness and Madeline turned her full attention to the two things she loved most: bringing love and laughter to folks at local nursing homes and keeping things in order at her beloved St. Francis.

Madeline lived a life true to her deeply held beliefs that true joy is in helping others and that Heaven awaits us all. She arranged for a note to be mailed to friends after her death. The note reads: "As of July 5 my address is HEAVEN. When you arrive, I shall greet you with open arms! Love, your friend Madeline."

Madeline always keeps her promises.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 10 a.m. July 24 at St. Francis-in-the-Valley. Memorials honoring Madeline's life may be made to the St. Francis-in-the-Valley Music Fund or to the Bradley Williams Scholarship Fund at St. Francis.

Published in Green Valley News & Sun on July 19, 2014