BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – Ethel Williamson hailed as the “queen of her castle” lived a life of spiritual royalty. It’s hard to find an adjective that is adequate enough to describe the impact of her presence on the community and her love for people.
Story after story spoke of her goodness, kindness and humanitarian life. On Wednesday, Jan.10 at St. Anthony’s Hospital, the queen took her final earthly bow and flew away to her royal mansion to meet her heavenly King.
“We are going to miss grandmother, but we can’t help but to celebrate her life,” said Alisa Robinson, one of the granddaughters.
Robinson said that there are so many fond memories and stories of Mrs. Ethel that run throughout the family. One thing they all have in common is what a great example of love, forgiveness, peace and faith she was.
“Her life spoke for her. What is truly amazing is she asked God to give her 100 years. He gave 102. Now, that’s favor!”
“Queenie” was born April 13, 1915, in Boston, Ga., to the late Indious and Eugene Abrams, Sr. She was born into a family that had the Word of God as the foundation. She moved from Georgia to Mims, Fla., at the age of five. She later relocated to St. Petersburg where she would graduate from Gibbs High School.
Mrs. Ethel met and married Thomas Manuel and to their union, six children were born: Leon, Leonard, Evelyn, Annie, Thomas, Jr. and Albert Manuel, Sr. She was a domestic worker for the Davis and Barber families and later in life she married the late Rev. Samuel Williamson.
She accepted Christ at an early age and for more than 50 years served as one of the original founders of Grand Central Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. She served in the Union Foreign Association as well as Union Number One as a member of the Deaconess, Home Mission and Minister’s wives.
In addition, the queen was also very active as a musician. She was so faithful in her duties as the church musician that she played the piano up to three weeks of her entering the hospital for the final time.
“She was truly God sent. I can’t remember one day of her not talking about God. She loved her church and people,” said Albert Manuel, Sr., the youngest of six children.
He said he never heard his mother say anything bad about anyone. When he would get upset and vent a little, her response would be: “Baby, you pray about that thing and watch how God work it out.”
“We were raised to go to school, Sunday school and church. She insisted that we love our home, family and neighbors. She is our example of the Golden Rule,” he said.
Mrs. Ethel wouldn’t want you crying over her, but she would understand the tears. The message on the funeral program captures the words that she would speak them:
I’m sorry I had to leave you, my loved ones oh so dear
But you see the master called me, His voice was very clear
I had made my reservation, a heaven-bound ticket for one.
And I knew that He would call me, when he felt my work was done.
I know your hearts are heavy because I have gone away
But when the Master called me, I knew I could not stay
Yes, I’m sorry I had to leave you, my love ones, oh so dear.
But you see the Master called me, and now I’m resting here
Yes I’ve crossed on over to glory, and to you all I say
Just stay in the hands of Jesus, and we’ll meet again someday.