By Earl Heath , Contributing Writer
Helen Beatrice Cox Williams was born on May 1,1917 and was called home after 104 years on July 31, 2021. Born in Sailes, a small settlement just outside of Gibsland, Louisiana. Her parents, William Chet Cox and Gertrude Eva Cathcart Cox, raised Helen and her seven brothers and sisters – Susie, John Preston, Jewel, Doretha, Arthur Milton, Lorene and William Allen on the family farm. They made sure she established a relationship with God at a young age through Jerusalem Old Sparta Baptist Church. Her early education took place in the one room schoolhouse at Saint Rest Baptist Church and she went on to graduate from Crawford High School in nearby Arcadia.
In May of this year after reaching her 104th birthday she was recognized nationally by several major publications and internationally by Al Roker of NBC the TODAY SHOW for reaching such a milestone.
While in high school Helen met Hardy “Jack” Williams and they were married in 1939 in Rushton, Louisiana. In 1940 she followed him to Whittier, California and after a few years they moved to Los Angeles. Over the next decade the couple was blessed with four children – Sally, Hardy, Donald and Jimmy. In order to support their growing family Helen used her innate business sense, along with Jack’s strong work ethic, to benefit from financial opportunities. Together they purchased several rental properties, ran the family-owned Williams market, and later started Compton Refrigeration.
Saint Paul Baptist Church, under the leadership of Reverend John L. Branham, became the house of worship for Helen and her family. As active members of the congregation the Williams household regularly attended Sunday service, taught adult Sunday school, and sang in the choir. Helen emphasized faith in God and the importance of education which helped propel all her children to graduate from college. She was able to fulfill her own deferred dream when she earned her AA degree from Southwest Jr. College. Then, at the age of 63, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Immaculate Heart University in 1980.
Helen worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District as an educational assistant on several campuses including 59th Street Elementary, 74th Street Elementary and Miles Avenue Elementary. During her time at Marlton School for the Deaf she became fluent in sign language. After her retirement Helen remained active through community and personal endeavors. In the early 1990’s she testified before the National Commission on Reparations which was part of the evidence submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Subcommittee on Minority Rights. He participated in the Archive Storycorps Project and her interview is catalogued in the American Folklore Center at the Library of Congress. In 2011 she self-published her book of poetry, “From Birth to Longevity,” a collection of works focused on family, faith, community and commitment to learning.
Helen Beatrice Cox Williams is survived by her sons Hardy, Donald and Jimmy; daughter-in-laws Maxine, Carolyn, Shirley, and Barbara; grandchildren Kelvin, Noel, Khary, Jared, Mia and Imani; great-grandchildren Khyla, Jaylen and Ahsaan; nephews Stevie, Warren and Eric; great-grandnephew and niece Michael and Kelly; Kimberly Harris and family; and a host of cousins, extended family and close friends.
A viewing will take place on Wednesday September 8th from 11:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Angulus Funeral Home on 3875 Crenshaw Blvd.90016. The service will be Thursday September 9th, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at Inglewood Park Cemetery – 720 E. Florence Ave. 90301.