The Andrea B. "Bunny" Williams Fund for M.D. Students
Andrea B. “Bunny” Williams was born in Taunton, Mass., on June 28, 1918, a descendant of Simon Newcomb, the 19th-century astronomer. She spent her high-school years in Philadelphia before graduating from Wellesley College in 1940. Growing up in the Depression instilled in her both strength and frugality. While working in the chemistry labs of Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Mrs. Williams met a dashing young Southerner, Robert Hardin Williams, a rising star at Harvard Medical School. They were married in 1941 and lived in Boston until 1948, when Dr. Williams received a call from Seattle, asking him to become the first chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington.
Dr. and Mrs. Williams made the trek to Seattle shortly thereafter, with their first two sons, Robert Lee Williams, born in 1943, and Hugh Harrison Williams, born in 1944, in tow. Their third son, Alan Brown Williams, was born a year later in 1949. While Dr. Williams was busy recruiting faculty members, Mrs. Williams and the wives of several other faculty members founded the Medical Faculty Wives Organization — now known as the Friends of the University of Washington School of Medicine — in 1949. Its purpose was to support the new school. As the first classes of medical students, residents and fellows arrived, Mrs. Williams became legendary for dinners at the Williams’ home in Laurelhurst, for picnics at the Laurelhurst Beach Club, and for volleyball games and rum punch at the family “cabin” on the Snoqualmie River.
Mrs. Williams was described as a strong mother, and her three boys — on the way to having successful careers in law, medicine and physics, respectively — fell out of trees and cars, occasionally launched a rock through a neighbor’s window, and accidentally set a vacant lot on fire. When they left for college, Mrs. Williams became very involved with St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Laurelhurst. She played an important role in recruiting an invigorating new rector, Dr. David Dunning, and in rejuvenating the parish as a whole.
In 1975, Dr. Williams was recognized by his admirers with the creation of an endowed chair to celebrate his life and work. He died four years later in 1979. Mrs. Williams lived more than 30 more years, travelling extensively and moving to the newly opened Emerald Heights Retirement Community in Redmond, Wash., in 1993. Far from content to “retire,” she joined numerous committees to help guide and improve the community. Surrounded by former friends from Wellesley and the University of Washington School of Medicine and by newly acquired friends, she was known for her stoic New England wit, her devotion to her friends and family and her great love of martini hour. In her final years, she exhibited extraordinary strength and grace in dealing with the challenges of old age — she was in and out of hospitals and rehab centers, and nurses, aides and doctors alike adored her.
Mrs. Williams died peacefully in Kalispell, Mont., on March 15, 2013, in the presence of family. She is survived by her three sons and their wives, Petra, Kathy and Mary Cay, five grandchildren and other family members.