Olivia (Peggy) McGough Williams died at St. Catherine’s Village in Madison, MS on Wednesday, May 13. She was 95. Born to Clementine Taylor and Thomas Hamilton McGough, Olivia was nicknamed “Peggy” by her dad. Morton, Mississippi was her home until she entered Mississippi Southern College in Hattiesburg. A music major, Peggy was active in the choral music program, Tri Sigma sorority, the tennis team, and student government.
She was the first female elected to serve as the student body president at Southern. While at Southern she met Ollie Williams, also a music major. On December 22, 1948 the two were married on the national radio program The Bride and Groom Show in Hollywood, California. The selection process for this popular radio program was intense. The couple persevered and enjoyed sharing their ceremony with a nationwide radio audience.
As young music educators, the couple enjoyed opening up the world of music to young people in Morton, Union, and Philadelphia. In the early 1960’s Peggy entered Mississippi State where she earned a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling. This degree resulted in a transition from music education to counseling. She was a counselor and teacher at Forest High School. When the Warren County schools were consolidated to form Warren Central in the 1960’s, Ollie and Peggy were tapped to join the faculty of the new school. They remained there for two years until Ollie was offered a position in music education and band at Ole Miss. Peggy assumed a position as the Oxford High School guidance counselor. While in Oxford, she earned her doctorate in Education Leadership at Ole Miss.
She has the distinction of having earned degrees from three different institutions of higher learning in Mississippi. When school rivalries became too intense, she would remind us that “There are good people everywhere.” Throughout her career, she was a leader in professional organizations such as the Mississippi Personnel Guidance Association and Delta Kappa Gamma. Three years prior to her retirement in 1979 she was named the curriculum coordinator for the Oxford School District. She often acknowledged that the true joy of being an educator was investing in her students and maintaining life-long relationships with them.
Upon her retirement, she and Ollie returned to Scott County and enjoyed a very active retirement at Sims Hill. Together they enrolled in extension classes through Mississippi State and learned about forestry as they began to manage a timber farm. In addition to the farm, Peggy invested time and energy in local community causes. She consulted with area school districts and was appointed to the Central Mississippi Regional Library Commission. With her gift for encouraging young people, she enjoyed tutoring area band students in brass and percussion.
In 1986 Ollie died and Peggy poured herself into the management of the farm. With a deep love of the land, she enjoyed years of managing the farm and working with various forestry and conservation organizations. Whether bush-hogging the hay field, cutting trees, or working with the Mississippi State University Forestry School, Peggy labored with love. Twice she was recognized as the Conservationist of the Year for Scott County. Bird-watching and sharing her love of nature had been her passion for the past 40 years.
A life-long Methodist, Peggy served as a youth leader, choir member, Sunday School teacher, lay leader, and a member of various district and conference committees. However, no role or position compared to her loving role as Gran. Gran taught her granddaughter Fran and grandson Clint to drive a tractor, drive a farm truck, fly a kite, bait a hook, play Monopoly for hours, and identify trees. The children enjoyed eating Gran’s specialties - cathead biscuits, salmon croquets, birds’ nest potatoes, and chocolate cake. The activities and special traditions made for memorable visits to Gran’s Sims Hill home.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Ollie Williams, her parents Clementine and Tom McGough, and brothers James Marion, William Hamilton, and Frances Taylor.
She is survived by her daughter Olivia (Mike) Martin, grandson Clint (Liz) Hudson, granddaughter Fran (Jay) Fowler, and great-granddaughters Ansley, Katherine, Carter, Anna Grace, Addie Kate, Alyza Jane; step-granddaughter Cassie (Stephen) Fountain and their children Meena and Jon Martin; step-granddaughter Jennifer (Bubba) Wingfield and their children McLain, Trest, Reece, and Maggie Riley.
The family is grateful to the compassionate care team at Siena I at St. Catherine’s Village and to her long-time caregiver Roxanne James who Peggy affectionately referred to as her “Sidekick.”
A visitation was held at Sims Hill Cemetery on May 16 from 1:30 PM until 2:00 PM with funeral service following. Wolf Funeral Services in Morton was responsible for the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the Morton United Methodist Church, 29 S. Second Street, Morton, MS, 39117.