Gladys J. Williamson, 82, Leavenworth, Kansas, died Friday, May 1, 2020, in Leavenworth. She was born Gladys Olene Jones, on March 31, 1938, at home in Essex, Mississippi. The doctor accidently listed her date of birth as April 7 on her birth certificate so that became her legal birthday. She was the 12th child of John Howard and Erdie Elizabeth (Patterson) Jones.
Gladys’ mother died Dec. 1, 1939, from complications of another pregnancy. Gladys’s paternal Aunt, Amy Elver and her husband Tom Watts took her and her two-year-older brother Stanley, to raise in Chicago, Illinois.
When Gladys was about 10, Uncle Tom decided the big city was no place to raise children, so he quit his railroad job and they moved to the family farm in Medina, Tennessee. Gladys often spoke about the how difficult the transition from modern city life to rural farm life was. There was no running water, electricity, a two and a half mile walk to school, farm chores, the isolation of a rural farm, hoeing and picking cotton in the hot summer sun with her brother Stanley.
Gladys graduated from Medina High School in May 1956. After graduation she moved to nearby Jackson, Tennessee, and worked for the Telephone Company. Not having a car of her own, Uncle Tom gladly drove to Jackson each weekend, so Gladys could return home to visit and attend Friendship Baptist Church with her aunt and uncle. Her church had recently hired a new young pastor, which was his first church assignment. Gladys jokingly said she noticed the handsome young pastor would shake her hand a little longer than the other young ladies as church let out each Sunday.
On Sept. 1, 1957, she married that handsome pastor, Rev. John Lawson Williamson in Medina, Tennessee. Gladys was proud to be a pastor’s wife and completely embraced the life that came with it. Over the next 43 years the Williamsons pastored at several churches in Tennessee and Kentucky. At each church assignment, Gladys found a job, helping support their family, while continuing to be an active pastor’s wife.
In the fall of 2000, after retirement and as Lawson’s health was declining, the Williamsons relocated to Leavenworth to be near their youngest daughter.
Rev. John Lawson Williamson preceded Gladys in death, Aug. 19, 2002.
After Lawson’s death, Gladys remained active in Leavenworth Baptist Church and was employed part time at Mount Calvary Cemetery. She enjoyed working in her yard, time spent with her church family, cooking and walking her dog, Sally.
Gladys is survived by two daughters, Pamela (David) Bowles, Burkburnett, Texas and Beth (Kent) Leintz, Leavenworth; three grandchildren, Devin (Annie) Bowles, Alison Pendley and Amy Smith; two siblings, Kenneth Jones, Milan, Tennessee and Stanley (Pat) Jones, Mountain Home, Arkansas; five half siblings, Lynn Toy, Dorothy Popelka, Edward Howard Jones, Susan Hudnall and James David Jones; and a sister in-law, Linnie Walden.
Gladys will be buried with Lawson in Pisgah Cemetery in Atwood, Tennessee. Arrangements provide by R.L. Leintz Funeral Home. Memorials are suggested to Pisgah Cemetery in care of the funeral home.