The musical legacy of Germaine Williams

By David E. Dix

The importance of music along with its many other wonderful qualities will be remembered in the celebration of Germaine Williams’ life just before the closing rites of the Christian burial mass at St Patrick’s Church in Kent at 11am on Friday May 27.

Germaine Williams, wife of the late Charles Williams II, died on her 99th birthday, February 28, 2022, after visits from family and friends. The matriarch of the Williams family, who for over a century played a leading role in Kent and beyond, Mrs Williams is known for the elegance, kindness and talent she brought to the community life.

She was a devoted member of Saint Patrick’s Church and proud of her alma mater, Saint Patrick’s Elementary School, which she believes educates young people as well as any elementary school. Musically gifted and with her son, Charles “Pete” Williams III, enrolled in Saint Patrick’s Elementary School, Mrs. Williams led a boys’ choir at Saint Patrick’s Church for about 10 years in the late 1950s and 1960s.

David E. Dix

“She had a beautiful soprano voice,” Timothy DeFrange, a deacon at St. Patrick’s Church, recalled last week, “and she taught a lot of us how to sing in harmony.”

DeFrange, a retired librarian who served Aurora City and Our Lady of the Elms schools, is musically gifted and, playing guitar, has performed contemporary sacred music for contemporary church services. He said he and his three brothers benefited from Ms Williams’ choir direction when they were enrolled at Saint Patrick’s Primary School.

“So many of us in the Kent area have benefited from his dedication,” he said. “Lawyer John Flynn, Joe Steinert, Pete Williams, Frisina Brothers, Pudloski Brothers, Watt Brothers, McCafferty Brothers and others. DeFrange said the Saint Patrick Boys Choir performed primarily for church liturgies and a few Catholic choir festivals.

A special treat, DeFrange recalls, was the choir’s day-long summer visit to the Benedictine Abbey of Atwater. “It was in the countryside and was a great place to picnic and play after the abbot said mass and we sang the parts of the mass.”

DeFrange said Ms Williams used to sing for weddings. “People knew she had a beautiful voice.” The musical talent continued in the family. Her daughter, Mary Wetterlin, unsurprisingly, has become a gifted pianist and will accompany a hymn at her mother’s funeral on Friday.

In addition to her work at Saint Patrick’s Parish, Ms. Williams has become a dedicated supporter of music education at Kent State University. She was a founding member of the Kent State University Symphony Orchestra Society, the non-profit group formed to support the KSU Symphony Orchestra. Donations during its 50 years have created a scholarship fund that provides more than $50,000 a year to budding young musicians.

“A wonderful hostess, she and her late husband, Charles, hosted musical evenings at their home. She also chaired our scholarship committee, directing decisions and providing careful advice on how much we could give to students,” said Dr. Larry Andrews, Society President and retired Dean of Honors College. of Kent State.

Andrews said Ms. Williams also founded the Kent chapter of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Blossom Music Committee, after the Blossom Music Center, the Cleveland Orchestra’s summer home, opened in 1968. She served for 25 years on the state board of the Blossom Friends of the Cleveland Orchestra.

“She was unerringly generous,” Andrews said.

Ms Williams’ passing represents in many ways the end of an era in Kent. Her husband, Charles, and their son, Charles “Pete” Williams III, successfully ran Williams’ Brothers Mill, a multi-generational family business in the heart of Kent for years from 1879 to 2016. As local commercial operators , the Williams family played an active role in Kent. Williams Bros. Mill, one of Ohio’s last independent flour mills, was sold to Star of the West in 1999. Star of the West moved operations in 2016 to Willard, Ohio.

Charles “Pete” Williams III settles with his wife, Virginia Apperson, in the Atlanta area. Mary Wetterlin resides with her husband, Sam, in Edina, MN. Another daughter, Elizabeth Adams, resides with her husband, Dave, in Albuquerque, NM.

David E. Dix is ​​a former editor of the Record-Courier.