Merlene Williamson, age 77, passed away on May 31, 2019. Services will be Monday, June 3, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. at Concord Baptist Church. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. She leaves behind her four beloved children, Jerome (Ashley) Williamson, Eddie Williamson, Karen (Jeff) Williamson Beams and Laronda (Doug) Williamson Channell, her loving brother JC Ford, 11 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren. Merlene was born February 28, 1942. The same year that she became eligible to earn a driver’s license, she met the love of her life – Billy Junior Williamson. It was love at first sight – well, sort of, at least. She met Billy when she saw his feet sticking out from under a car he was working to repair. He was in his early twenties and she was merely 16 years old. Within one year, she and Billy were wed and the Williamson clan – made up of Billy, his brother and six sisters – adopted Merlene into their family. At 17, Merlene gave birth to her first son – Jerome and less than a year later, she and Billy welcomed their second son, Eddie, into the world. It was not long before, Karen came along – beautiful like her mother and the apple of her father’s eye. The family was complete once Laronda was born. Two boys and two girls – the perfect balance. Although Merlene adored the beautiful things around her -- her flowers, her purses, clothes and jewelry -- she cherished nothing more in this life than her four kids and her entire precious family. As far as family trees go, she and Billy certainly took the command to "go forth and multiply" seriously and what gorgeous fruit that tree has borne over the years. A true Proverbs 31 women of worth, Merlene learned early in life how to cook and anyone who has ever occupied a seat at her dinner table, can attest that she was one of the best cooks in the state. People in the community grew accustomed to seeing her and her family out in the garden. She and her children never were at want for food because she stored, canned, froze and preserved fruits and vegetables to last throughout the off seasons. Her career was to act as the CEO of her family and she succeeded by serving. Sewing was more than just a hobby for Merlene, it was an act of love and one of her favorite projects was making blankets for the babies. In fact, she and Laronda were making a blanket for granddaughter, Kayla’s unborn son when Merlene passed a few days ago. Merlene has been called many names – sometimes Mama, sometimes Moe Moe or Mawmaw, by Billy she was called “my wife” “baby” “sweetheart” or whatever other term of endearment came to his mind when he looked at his beautiful bride. As we all grieve over our loss of Merlene, we know that Billy and a host of heavenly bodies celebrate her passage into paradise. There are few couples who had what Billy and Merlene had together. Before Billy’s health deteriorated, they could often be found walking arm in arm. Holding hands was natural for them. They were so connected, they truly embodied the Biblical description of becoming “as one.” Since Billy’s passing last year, Merlene had ached for him and nothing could fill the void. She continued to travel and used every spare moment to find ways to serve others – driving elderly friends and family around, babysitting, running errands for others and planning birthday parties, and other special events. But, she always talked about having a hole that nothing and no one could fill. As we say goodbye for now, we know that she is once again complete and that one day… we will join her and this ache to be with Billy, Merlene and all our lost love ones who have passed into glory, will be fulfilled. Until then, may we use this tragedy and the real life love story of Billy and Merlene to encourage us -- to hold one another tighter, to speak truth and love daily, to lighten the load of those in need and to take time for long walks arm in arm with our favorite people. Thank you, Merlene, for your quiet spirit, your strength and your light. We will look for you in the stars until we join you there one day.