Troy University lost one of its most ardent and colorful supporters this week, as Ann Kelly Williams passed away on April 19 at the age of 93.
“Miss Ann,” as she was affectionately known, invested herself in the Troy community and never met a stranger, always willing to take time for those she encountered along her way. A true Trojan, Miss Ann took every opportunity to cheer on Trojan sports teams, a practice that began when her late husband Frank “Red” Williams served as the University’s interim athletic director from 1991-92.
“At Troy University, our fight song begins with the words, ‘Here’s to the School we love, We are Trojans One and All.’ Miss Ann Williams was a true Trojan in every sense of the word,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor. “She had a wonderful spirit and a tremendous love for her university that was not only displayed on the playing fields of our athletic teams but across this campus. Her presence will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones during this difficult time.”
Miss Ann’s visible and vocal fandom easily exceeded her slight frame, as she measured only slightly above five-feet tall. Decked out in her TROY cardinal and trademark high heels and clutching her TROY pompom, she could frequently be seen walking the fence line at TROY games, cheering on and encouraging players and coaches and occasionally feistily questioning a referee’s call, the way only she could. For nearly 30 seasons, one could easily determine how the Trojans were doing in whatever game was taking place at the time simply by watching Miss Ann’s demeanor and the ferocity with which she cheered.
“Miss Ann was a gem and she loved TROY with all her heart,” said Faith Byrd, Director of Alumni Affairs. “She would travel all over to follow the TROY football team. TROY meant everything to her and she had such a passion for the University.”
Miss Ann graduated from then-Troy High School before going on to attend Huntingdon College in Montgomery. She would later transfer to Troy State Teachers College, graduating in 1950. It was during her college years that she would meet Red, and the two were married on Aug. 5, 1950. The couple had two children, Elizabeth Jeanne “Betsy”, and Frank Bernard, Jr.
Red’s job with Boeing would take the family across the country, moving more than 20 times. During that time, Ann taught in schools from Cocoa Beach, Fla. to Huntsville, Ala. to El Paso, Texas to Seattle, Wash. Still, Troy would always remain home and the couple returned after Red’s retirement. The couple became active members of the Troy State Alumni Board.
Miss Ann’s passion for her community wasn’t only seen in her support of TROY athletics and her alma mater, though. She was a tremendous supporter of the arts in the local community, supporting the community band, the Troy Arts Council, local musical acts and student and community plays and productions. In addition to her service on the Troy Arts Council, she was active in a number of community groups, including D.A.R., Gold Club, Century Club and Troy Rotary Club.
Miss Ann was an active member of Troy’s First Baptist Church where she served on a number of committees, volunteered to help with Vacation Bible School, sang in the choir and taught Sunday School for more than 30 years.
Miss Ann was a Lifetime member of the Troy University Alumni Association and, for many years, was an active participant in the World War II era alumni chapter and the annual World War II-era alumni reunion that was held each Homecoming weekend. She was also active in the University’s Pike County Alumni Chapter.
In addition, Miss Ann paid for the fountain that adorns the entrance of the University’s Alumni House. In 2005, she was honored as an Alumni of the Year recipient.
Miss Ann is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Betsy and Jimmy Lot; her son Frank Williams; Betsy’s children Adam Irving and Kelly Vest; Frank’s children Will (Rachel), Foz (Kristen), Mimi (Matt) Penhale, and Morgan (Dalton) Bennett; and her great grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband of almost 49 years, Red Williams; her parents, Gus and Miriam; her sister and brother-in-law Alice and Ed Gilbert; and her daughter-in-law Rita (Frank) Williams.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, April 22, at 3 p.m. from First Baptist Church of Troy with Dr. Ross Lankford officiating and Dillard Funeral Home of Troy directing. Visitation will be held on Saturday, April 22, 2023 from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Troy.
Donations can be made in her honor by check to First Baptist Church of Troy or to the Trojan Warrior Club.