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Norma Ruth Cumberland Williams

Norma Ruth Cumberland Williams was born in Preston on April 9, 1943, and passed into the presence of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Dec. 16, 2023, following a long journey with dementia.

Norma Ruth was from a family of three boys and four girls, of which she was third from the oldest. She was the daughter of Raymond Brantley Cumberland and Connie Alexander Cumberland. She graduat-ed as valedictorian from Lynville High School in Preston, before attending Northeast Mississippi Junior College and later graduating in 1964 with high honors from Millsaps College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She began her practice teaching at St. Andrew’s in Jackson and later taught in Pascagoula.

One day while visiting her sister in Jackson, who worked at Deposit Guaranty Bank, Norma Ruth was introduced to several of her sister’s co-workers, one of which was Parham Williams, with whom she would later fall in love and marry on June 24, 1967. Their marriage was the beginning of a wonderful life together during which they never had a true disagreement, and their marriage lasted over 56 years.  During that time, they never stopped leaving silly and sweet messages back and forth to each other on the refrigerator.

Later, Norma Ruth taught second grade in Jackson for four years until their two daughters, Kelly and Kristen, were born; and she then devoted herself to being a full-time mom. She created an immensely loving and supportive home for them and all who visited.  After nine years in Jackson, the family moved to Monticello because Parham was asked to make a banking career move.

When their daughters were school age, she returned to teaching second grade at Monticello Elemen-tary. Norma Ruth was a very precise, organized person who always made sure things were done right or done over. Once, a little boy walked up to her desk and said, “Mrs. Williams, I don’t know how you did it – but you taught me to read.” She also taught children to write, in both print and cursive (a dying art!) and had the most perfect handwriting anyone had ever seen.  Norma Ruth was a faithful and kind teacher for over 25 years and had a welcoming, fun-loving spirit and a great sense of humor. Based on the many comments she received from her former students over the years, it is clear that she had a profound, positive impact on her young students.

After 24 years in Monticello, Parham retired from the bank in 2000. They remained in Monticello for two more years enjoying their friendships with their wonderful friends and neighbors.  Then Parham and Norma moved to Ridgeland to be closer to Norma Ruth’s family and in January of 2016, they moved to St. Catherine’s Village in Madison.

Norma Ruth enjoyed various interesting pursuits, especially the computer game “Words with Friends,” and always kept at least three games going at the same time to speed things along.  She also enjoyed cross-stitching when she had the time. Her favorite summer activity was the family’s annual trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., or the Alabama Gulf Coast for a week of fun and good seafood with Parham’s brother’s family and children.  Later in life, she enjoyed every opportunity to be Nana with her grand-daughters, making crafts, teaching them to cook, and having tea parties and makeovers.  She devoted her life to her family and had a gift for making everyone feel special.

She and her family were active members of the United Methodist Church in each city in which she lived, including Coy Methodist Church where she and her sisters would help their mother take a turn at cleaning the sanctuary on Saturdays, Galloway United Methodist Church where she and Parham were married, and Monticello United Methodist Church where Kelly and Kristen were raised. She was a Sunday school teacher and a faithful Christian servant. She loved her church, and she loved the Lord.  She was loved for her sweet spirit and her selfless dedication to her family and her church, and she will be remembered as a gracious, kind, and generous person.

Norma Ruth’s strong, determined nature served her well as she faced many physical maladies in her last few years. Her faith, fortitude, and humor sustained her through the challenges of a long and fruit-ful life, and her legacy of love and strength will sustain her family through their grief.  She will be truly missed.

Norma Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, Raymond Brantley Cumberland and Connie Alex-ander Cumberland, and her brother, Clemeth Cumberland.

Survivors include her husband, Parham; daughters Kelly Williams Black and Kristen Williams Keary (Da-vid); granddaughters, Sarah Beth and Sadie Black; sisters, Marguerite Rhodes, Jeanelle Burt, and Beth Branning (Lester); brothers, Raymond Cumberland (Gloria) and Joel Cumberland (Iva Lou); and nu-merous nieces and nephews.

Norma Ruth’s family would like to thank the staff of St. Catherine’s Village for all of the loving kind-ness, gentle care, and support they gave her.

A Service of Death and Resurrection was held Dec. 20 in the chapel of Galloway Galloway United Methodist Church in Jackson. A graveside service was held at Parkway Memorial Cemetery in Ridge-land, following the funeral service.

Memorials, if desired, may be made to the American Stroke Association online at www.stroke.org/en/; or the Dementia Society of America online at www.dementiasociety.org/donate-by-mail; or by mail to P.O. Box 600, Doylestown, PA 18901, in lieu of flowers.