Anna L. Williams, 98, active in politics, community and church

Posted: February 27, 2014

INVARIABLY, when some old friend called Al Williams, it wasn't "How are you, Al?" It was, "How's your mom?"

It wasn't that old pals weren't interested in Al's condition; it was just that his mother, Anna Williams, was a special person known to a wide variety of people from all walks of life and professions.

There was something about Anna that drew people to her - and once a friend, always a friend.

"If you met her, she'd get personal with you right away," said her son Alford J. Williams. "You would get to know her real quick."

Anna Laurie McCaskill-Williams, who was active in the spheres of politics, community, church and golf, died of asphyxiation Feb. 16 in a fire that damaged her home on Poplar Street near 57th, West Philadelphia. She was 98.

The Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the blaze.

Anna was a sharecropper's daughter, born to Pinky and Henrietta Halyard-McCaskill in the cotton fields of Bamberg, S.C. She came to Philadelphia as a child and graduated from Overbrook High School. She later attended the Strayer Business School and, during World War II, studied nursing at Mercy-Douglass Hospital.

She worked for 20 years in personnel and customer service for TV Guide, published by the former Triangle Publications in Radnor. She lived in Wayne.

Anna married Eddy A. Williams Sr. in 1935. They met as members of Mount Carmel Baptist Church. He died in 1985.

After retiring from TV Guide, part of the publication empire of Walter Annenberg, which also included the Daily News and Inquirer, she went to work for the late state Sen. Hardy A. Williams.

She started as a volunteer and moved into a paying job, mostly doing scheduling for the busy Democratic politician who died in 2010.

Anna was always interested in politics and was active with the Voters Registration Committee of the Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

She joined the church in 1931, and was also active with the Bloom Where You Are Planted Ministry, the 300 Women Committee and the Green Ladies Golf Club.

As a golfer, Anna played at Cobbs Creek Golf Club in Philadelphia and the Freeway Golf Club in Sicklerville, N.J.

She was active in the National Afro-American Golfers Association, of which she was a member of the Building and Hall of Fame committees.

Anna was on a committee of the golfers association that promoted the career of Charles Sifford, an African-American golfer who helped desegregate the PGA of America.

She was also active with the Lankenau Hospital Volunteer Department and Club Bycoda.

For a time, Anna and her husband worked on the estate of the late Abraham Hobson, a dentist in Tredyffrin Township. They served parties, which were attended by an array of movers and shakers, and Anna baby-sat the Hobson children.

"She was a special person," her son said. "I feel blessed to have had her as my mother."

"Anna loved life and she lived it with zest, flair and incredible determination as an officer and member of various social and political organizations," her family wrote in an obituary. "She loved and revered her family and countless friends. Her smile and friendly personality will always be in our hearts."

Besides her son, she is survived by another son, Eddy A. "Billy" Williams Sr.; two daughters, Monique Henderson and Beverly Rohan-Williams; three grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.

Services: 11 a.m. Friday at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, 5732 Race St. Friends may call at 9 a.m.

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