Column

The young white cat with black spots that showed up at my house seemed too loving and too cute to simply drop off at the local animal shelter.

That’s when the proverbial light bulb went off in my head.

Let me ask “Miss. Vinnie.” She might have an idea.

Just a few hours later, “Morris” had a new home. Vinnie Williams couldn’t turn him away, either.

Some 15 years later, this memory remains etched in my brain.

Miss. Vinnie passed away late last week, just a few months shy of her 100th birthday, leaving a legacy that I surely will never forget.

This simple act of kindness to an animal needing a home sums up to me the type of person she was.

I’ll never forget what she helped do for me.

Along with her daughter Maridee, Ms. Vinnie graciously allowed me the opportunity to work, as the sports editor of The Oconee Enterprise for a little over two years, which I can say to this day, was truly a highlight of my now 32-year career.

She was truly one of a kind.

Although some just called her “Vinnie,” others “Mrs. Williams,” I can’t recall ever addressing her in anyway other than “Ms. Vinnie.” It just seemed to fit, and she certainly didn’t seem to mind.

Yes, “Miss. Vinnie” was one tough cookie.

Opinionated? Dang straight. Could she ruffle feathers? Yep, I saw that first-hand, too. Fearless? You bet.

It’s a trait I’ve always admired and one I’ve tried to emulate over the years. It didn’t matter if you were the Sheriff, the Chief of Police, the chair of the Oconee County Commission or a local state senator.

“Miss. Vinnie” was going to make you toe the line. If she thought there was something that wasn’t in the best interest of the citizens of Watkinsville and Oconee County, she wasn’t afraid of taking those in charge to task.

Not all agreed, but fair she was, and everyone in the country respected her for that.

But “Vinnie” Williams was much more than a Watch Dog for the folks of Oconee County. Nobody cared about its citizens more. Her love for fire fighters and other first responders has been well documented over the years, as she was a founding member of the Oconee County Veterans Memorial Foundation, which set into motion the memorial currently at Oconee Veterans Park.

Her door was always open, not just to folks like me who worked for her, but anyone in the community who might simply want to say hello, or pass along a story idea.

“Ms. Vinnie” would welcome them all.

It still blows my mind that she continued to pen her regular column for the Enterprise after she had turned 99. It’s simply incredible, almost impossible to fathom.

She didn’t continue writing because she had to; she did it because she wanted to. Once a journalist, the itch to write always stays with you and with “Miss. Vinnie” it never left.

Though sad to know that she’s no longer with us, I will always smile when remembering what she stood for, how she did her job, but most of all I will recall her friendship.

The state of Georgia lost a journalistic icon with the passing of Vinnie Williams. She will be forever missed.

Anthony Dasher is a former sports editor for The Oconee Enterprise. Opinions expressed are those of the writer.

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