Mary (Petrarca) Williams went home to God on Palm Sunday, March 24th, . Her husband John T. Williams, Chief of the Apponaug Fire Department, pre-deceased her in 1954.
She was born on June 6, 1921 the daughter of the late Vincent and Liberty (Mazzocco) Petrarca. She was a life long resident of Warwick. Mary graduated from Lockwood High School in 1939. She married her high school sweetheart, “Jack” in 1942. His untimely death at the age of 35 left Mary with four children to raise. She went to work for the Warwick Fire Department and remained on the job for forty years as secretary to the first six Chiefs. Her two sons followed in their Dad’s footsteps and became firefighters for the city of Warwick. She referred to the men who worked for the department as “my boys” and they lovingly referred to her as “Mom” but most often as “Chief”. She cared and was concerned about each and every one of them. Upon retiring at the age of seventy-five in 1996, her life continued to be one of service to her community. She volunteered her services five days a week at the following: The Blood Center of Rhode Island, where she loved meeting and greeting the donors, Kent County Hospital where she delivered flowers, gifts and cards to the patients. Mary said it was so gratifying to see the smiles on their faces and to brighten their days. John Greene School, where she helped 2nd graders with reading and math, Park Elementary School, as part of the mentor program where she also worked one-on-one with special needs students. In 2001 she received the Blood Center’s Volunteer of the year award. It stated “Everyone who knows her loves her. The donors love her and all of our workers adore her. She is just so gracious and so willing to help.” She received the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2005 “Rising Above the Rest” from the RI Central Chamber of Commerce. It stated “Mary exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism in her approach to life. She always arrives with a smile and a positive attitude and her good nature is infectious.” In 2009 she received the Blood Center’s Appreciation Award. In 2004 she received the President’s Volunteer service award from the President’s Council on Service and Civic participation. She was a member of the Board of Director’s of the Greenwood Credit Union from its inception until 2008. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Warwick Municipal Credit Union from its inception until 2007. Always a person who loved a good party she was on the Fireman’s Ball Committee for sixty years. She was a communicant and incorporator of St Rose of Lima and then Saints Rose and Clement Church. She was a member of the Rosary and Altar Guild and loved serving God and her church. She accomplished so much and touched so many lives in her 91 years despite the challenges of Parkinson’s disease. She was a strong and caring woman who gave thanks for her blessings every day. She will be sadly missed by her loving family and all those who knew her. She will live forever in our hearts.
She leaves her daughter Janet Erickson and her husband, Stephen of Sterling, Massachusetts, her daughter Judi Kelly and her husband, Jack of Warwick, her son Richard J. Williams (Capt. WFD Ret.) and his wife, Susan of North Kingstown and her son John T. Williams (Lt. WFD) and his fiancée, Kelly Madden of East Greenwich, a former daughter-in-law Linda Williams of North Kingstown; and a dear friend, Samuel Carlow of East Greenwich. She leaves her brother Ralph Petrarca and his wife, Irene of Cleremont Florida, her sister-in-law, Norma Petrarca of Warwick, and her sister-in-law Barbara Colley of DeBary, Fla. She was predeceased by her sister, Clotilde Lombardi and her husband, Arthur, her sister Victoria Leco and her husband, Eugene, her brother Domenic Petrarca and his wife, Rita, her brother William Petrarca, and her former sister-in-law Marjorie Petrarca. She is also survived by ten grandchildren: Christopher Anderson and his wife, Janie Wang of Eliot, Maine, Erin Quinlan and her husband, Tom of Coventry, Michael Kelly of Warwick, Chad Williams and his partner, Alexis Viola of East Greenwich, Jennifer Bayley and her husband, Tim of Scarborough, Maine, Haley Williams and her partner, Rob Granai of West Warwick, Kristin Williams and her partner, Richy Gonzalez of Warwick, Michaela Williams of North Kingstown, Hannah Williams and Carly Williams of North Kingstown and Cabot Shore of East Greenwich. She is also survived by her ten great-grandchildren, Abigail and Addison Quinlan, Jayden and Kaylee Gonzalez, Charlie Brito, Ava, Tyler and Ella Granai, Owen Bayley and Chloe Anderson. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and a wonderful caregiver, Zarina Shayakhmetova.
Family and friends will honor and remember Mary’s life by gathering for calling hours on Wednesday, March 27 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The Urquhart-Murphy Funeral Home, 800 Greenwich Avenue, Route 5, Warwick (Exit 12A on I-95). A Liturgy of the Word Service will be celebrated on Thursday, March 28 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Kevin’s Church, 333 Sandy Lane, Warwick. Burial will follow at St Patrick’s Cemetery in East Greenwich, RI.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to “her boys” at the Warwick Firefighters Relief Association, P.O. Box 6033, Warwick, RI 02887. www.murphyfuneralhomes.org