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Friendly face set to retire later this month

WilliamsKnown to many as "Ithaca Mom" and described as “fantabulous,” Margie Williams has filled many roles during her 25-year career at the College. She began with the pathology unit doing data entry and has spent the last 19 years as the administrative assistant for the Office of Educational Development.

In this position, she spent much of her time scheduling meetings, providing course materials to students, and offering office support to her colleagues. Beyond this, though, she also did whatever she could to help the students, including making nearly a dozen quilts that SCAVMA sold or raffled at its annual auction.

“Early in my career, the students were about the same age as my daughters,” said Williams. “I knew from conversations with them, how important personal attention is to students. They wanted to feel like they were more than a number, more than a file.”

Earning a reputation as the either the person who will know or the one who will know who to ask, Williams also enjoys answering random questions: How do I get the lock cut off my locker? When do the buses run? What is my class rank? What credits do I need? How late are the doors unlocked? Where can my club meet?

“Margie is the glue that has held many a student together,” said Dr. Elizabeth Berliner ’03. “She is a front-line resource who is very accessible and wonderfully kind.”

But as all faculty and staff eventually do, Williams is preparing to retire (on January 30) and is excited to begin a new chapter in her life. With her husband, who will retire from his position the very next day, Williams plans to travel the country: Florida in February, Kansas in the spring, and who knows after that.

“Given our ages, our years of service, and the time, it just makes sense,” said Williams. “There’s a lot that we want to do. We don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to be able to do and experience all the opportunities that are out there and to be able to enjoy doing them. Too many people wait to retire until they’re not healthy enough or have lost interest in ‘doing.’ We decided that would not be us.”

Still, though, it will be difficult for Williams to totally walk away. The students and alumni, she said, have become friends, many of them joining her in the Facebook world.

“They’re like my own children,” Williams said, recalling a quick conversation with a mother at a White Coat ceremony a few years ago. “She asked me if one of the participants was my son or daughter. I told her every one of them was.”

Please feel free to congratulate Margie with a message.