EVA JO WILLIAMS
January 21, 1915 – September 16, 2006
Eva Jo Williams was born Eva Johanna Denson on January 21, 1915 in Slocum, Texas. She was the third child of Joseph Warren Denson and Etta Jalima Hogan Denson. The family moved to Montalba, Texas, where Eva Jo attended school. In high school, she was on most of the girls’ sports teams. She starred in basketball, softball and tennis.
In 1935, Eva Jo met and married Loyd Elmo Williams who was a licensed preacher in the Corsicana District of the Texas Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church. In the fall of 1937, she and Loyd, with two small children, moved to Tehuacana, Texas, for Loyd to attend Westminster Junior College and at the same time pastor small circuit churches in the area.
Eva Jo soon learned what it meant to be a country preacher’s wife. Not only was she expected to have her own family spotless and in attendance at all the services, which sometimes were at three different churches on Sunday and another one on Wednesday, but many times she was also the unofficial youth director and social director for the churches as well.
Eva Jo and Loyd reared four children of their own, Glenda Baker, Laveda Clark, Jimmie Loyd Williams and Cynthia Malone, and a niece, Reta Caninenberg. When her children were young, Eva Jo designed and made all of their clothes. She was very good at all kinds of needle work. She did lots of embroidery and at one time designed and made hats. I remember as a child watching her cut a pattern out of newspaper to make my sister and me a dress. I’m sure store-bought patterns were too expensive to buy. There was never any talk of not having enough money, but I’m sure it couldn’t have been easy to raise five children on a circuit preacher’s salary.
As her children grew, Eva Jo became more active with the youth programs at their churches. She and Loyd often provided instruction and entertainment for youth meetings. They performed skits that they themselves wrote.
In 1952, Loyd wrote a book titled, Queen Without a Crown, and dedicated it to Eva Jo. She was his inspiration for the book which was about the joys and trials of being a preacher’s wife. The book was made into a television program called, The Pure White Orchid.
When Loyd passed away in 1970, Eva Jo and Cynthia, with Cynthia’s two boys, moved to the Retired Minister’s apartments in Ruston, Louisiana. She lived there and cared for the boys while Cynthia went to college. Those apartments were a life saver for her. Later they moved to Monroe, Louisiana, where Eva Jo attended Memorial United Methodist Church, where Loyd had been pastor in the 1960’s. She became very active with the United Methodist Women where she used her talent for writing. She wrote several speeches and poems to use at meetings. She also helped with the annual Gumbo and Craft sale at the church. Her “little pecan pies” became famous. She also developed other recipes that have been passed down in the family. You couldn’t beat her chicken and dumplings, her enchiladas, or her German Sweet Chocolate Cake.
After all the years of being a homemaker, Eva Jo decided to try her hand at retail sales. She worked at Selber Brothers in Monroe for many years in their lingerie department where she helped women who had undergone mastectomies to be fitted for bras.
In 1996, Eva Jo moved to The Oaks Nursing Home in Monroe. She lived there until she died from Alzheimer’s disease, at the age of 91, on September 16, 2006. She had 10 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, and 4 great great grandchildren.
She was buried beside Loyd in Carroll Springs Cemetery near Athens, Texas. Loyd had attended Carroll Springs Methodist Church as a young man and returned there to be pastor in the early years of his ministry.
In his poem, The Preacher’s Wife, Loyd writes a fitting tribute to Eva Jo and to all preacher’s wives.
When her life on earth has ended,
And she leaves this world of sin,
I think she’ll hear Saint Peter greet her,
“Mrs. Preacher, enter in!”
Glenda N. Baker
Source: Louisiana Conference Journal, 2007; p. 266.