Longtime Samford University Auxiliary leader Elouise Williams was hailed for her tireless service and Alabama First Lady Patsy Riley offered insight into the biblical "virtuous woman" at the Auxiliary's spring luncheon on May 2.
Williams retired this year after serving as Auxiliary coordinator since 1990. Prior to that, she served four years as president.
A highlight of the program was the announcement that the Elouise Wilkins Williams Scholarship Fund has reached endowment status.
Calling Williams "one of the most beloved figures in the Samford family," Samford president Andrew Westmoreland said that more than 250 friends have contributed almost $29,000 to endow the fund, which was established in her honor just last fall.
Additional gifts from the Williams family have brought the corpus to almost $80,000, said Westmoreland.
Samford president emeritus Dr, Thomas Corts and his wife, Marla, Auxiliary executive director emerita, voiced tribute to Williams for her many efforts on behalf of Samford.
Dr. Corts cited her organizational skills, energy, talents, ideas and knack for motivating people. "With her expecting things to happen, things got done," said Corts, noting that Williams' husband, Harold, is a loyal helper and participant in her causes.
Mrs. Corts noted that when Williams became Auxiliary president in 1986, the volunteer organization maintained a meager bank account and offered one $300 scholarship. This year, the Auxiliary's $1 million endowment fund enabled it to award $1,500 scholarships to 36 students.
The Auxiliary membership has grown from a roster of a few hundred to about 1,500, with 500 of those being life members.
Williams responded that "whatever good has been accomplished, we have done it together," recalling the many hours that Auxiliary members worked on projects such as producing and selling a cookbook, a calendar and note cards to support the scholarship fund.
"This has been an adventure I wouldn't have missed for anything. We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, something that will be around after we are," said Williams, asking one favor of guests. "Wherever you are, say a good word for Samford."
Auxiliary executive director Dr. Jeanna Westmoreland, Auxiliary president Alta Faye Fenton and Samford president Westmoreland presented Williams with a Waterford crystal vase as a tangible reminder of her service.
The tribute also included special music by vocalists Suzanne and Dr. Joseph Hopkins, accompanied by Williams' daughter, pianist Anna Williams, who holds degrees from Samford and its Cumberland School of Law.
Riley, wife of Alabama Governor Bob Riley, noted that the biblical virtuous woman never existed, but was a model of what a good woman should be.
Omitted from the scriptural description, however, is the word "peace," which Riley believes the woman must have had.
"Peace is hard to find, but I know that this woman had it," said Riley, adding that the first step toward peace is to trust in God and not lean on oneself. "Have faith in God, and then trust your faith in God."
A "peace robber" for many women is the desire to be someone else, whether it is wanting different physical attributes or talents and skills.
"God made us uniquely, and equips you with what you need to do what he wants you to do," said Riley.
"If you're focused on the right things in life, you'll be peaceful. God pre-packaged us for peace, joy, and to glorify him. We have everything we need to honor God, and that should give us peace."
Sharing advice from inspirational author Wayne Dyer, she urged Auxiliary members to not die with music still in them, to embrace silence, let past troubles go, avoid things that weaken, and always keep positive energy.
"Be who you are. Your assignment is what God wants it to be. Love who you are," advised Riley.
The luncheon at Vestavia Hills Country Club was attended by 315 Auxiliary members and guests. Eleven of this year's 36 scholarship recipients were introduced, including Shelly Marie Busby, Cameron Campbell, Andrew Crosson, Rachel Gamble, Lindsay Harter, Jordan Jones, Cassidy Jordan, Lauren Lunceford, Emily Margaret Ray, Rett Rivers and Amanda Slevin.