Bess (Evans) Williams


Bess Evans Williams, 83, died peacefully at her home in Williston on July 8, 2014.
After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University in her hometown of Murfreesboro, Tenn., she moved to Immokalee, where she taught physical education and coached high school girls' basketball. She married a fellow teacher and continued her teaching career in Perry and Atlanta before moving to Williston.
Having worked on her college newspaper and for a bi-weekly newspaper in Murfreesboro, Williston purchased half-interest in the Suwannee Valley News, a weekly paper based in Williston, in 1966. She assumed full ownership in 1968. She purchased The Williston Sun, one of the oldest newspapers in Florida, and merged the two newspapers in 1970 into The Williston Sun-Suwannee Valley News. At the time she became a newspaper publisher, she was one of the first female publishers in the state. She was an active member of the Florida Press Association for many years. Active in civic affairs, she helped organize a community theatre and she served as chairwoman of Williston's bicentennial committee and as a member of the board of the Williston Chamber of Commerce.
Williams sold the Sun-News in 2001 and, in her 70s, fulfilled a dream of opening a restaurant, Victorian TeaRoom, after extensively renovating an apartment building.
She had an avid interest in genealogy and she was active in a number of Scottish clans, including Clan Barclay, where she served as editor of the clan's international newsletter for several years. She also had a keen interest and knowledge of antiques and interior décor of the Victorian era.
She was preceded in death by her parents, James Clyde and Lola Bell Evans; her brothers, Allen J. Evans and William Evans,and her sister, Jodie Benson.
She is survived by her son, Nick Williams; her daughter, Elisa Jan Davis and Jil Williams, all of Williston; a brother, Kenneth Evans of Murfressboro, Tenn.; and her sisters, Ina Cooper of Hermitage, Tenn. and Martha Sprinkle of Sebring.
Burial was held at Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery in Gainesville. A private memorial will be held later.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Haven Hospice, 4200 NW 90th Blvd, Gainesville, Florida 32606, Florida Defenders of the Environment, P.O. Box 357086, Gainesville, FL 32635, or Taylor's Chapel Baptist Church, 3949 Halls Hill Pike
Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37130, or .

Published in Williston Pioneer on July 17, 2014