Radford High remembers Lenora Williams, who never let kids go hungry

RADFORD CITY, Va. (WDBJ7) - Friday night at Radford High school everything was in place.
The football players were geared up, fans were in their seats and the band was playing.

But something was missing - someone was missing.

"Everybody's just devastated today,” said Georgy “Lynn” Burris, the school board chairman.

They were devastated because the woman with what they called the biggest smile was not there to brighten up those Friday night lights.

Friday morning, Mrs. Lenora Williams passed away unexpectedly. After the anthem, and before kickoff, the stadium held a moment of silence in her honor.

A longtime leader for the school district's food services, friends and staff said "Nora" Williams' heart was in the kitchen.

"She was a whirlwind in that kitchen!” Burris said. “So if you got her biscuits and gravy - it made your day.”

Radford High School Assistant Principal Darden Freeman said Williams never let a kid in the school system go hungry, no matter their circumstances. Even during summer and winter breaks, they were fed.

And, Burris said, she made the "best lemon lime punch in the world."

"She was the one that started up the ovens in the morning for the breakfast and made sure that these guys that were traveling had something to take with them,” Burris said, pointing to the players.

Every staff member knew Williams.
And the kids-

"Oh my Lord they loved her!” Burris said. “So I mean everybody just liked her."

But they say her love extended past the kitchen.

"She's more of a mom lunch lady, if that makes sense,” said sophomore Simone Stanly from the sidelines.

Stanley, number 27 on the varsity team, broke his ankle about a year ago.

Williams took him to the doctor. She prayed for him. She checked in on him frequently.

"Oh dude the fact that she went an extra step,” he said, explaining what made her great. “People can be rude in the lunch lines and give her a bad time but she always took the time to like make sure that person who is giving her a bad time is having a good time instead. Yeah, she was awesome."

Stanley said at a time in his life when he was sad, Williams made her way to his lunch table, just to make sure he was doing alright. She made him want to come back to school each day.

“She was a big factor of like why kids smiled and stuff," he said.

Whether those kids were kindergartners or college bound, colleagues and friends said she called them all her "babies."

"From the get go I knew she loved children,” said Superintendent Rob Graham, whose office was two doors down from Williams’. “I knew she loved her job. I knew she loved Radford City, she was a true Bobcat at heart and just happy all the time."

Williams was with the team on the field Friday night, and in the stands, too, they say. They believe she will always be with them in memory and in legacy.

"If she's listening right now, what would you like to tell her?” asks this reporter.

“I'd say Lord we miss you!” said Burris. “We're gonna just miss you so much. We love her, ya know?"