In Memoriam: Catherine “Kitty” Gish Williams

In Memoriam: Catherine “Kitty” Gish Williams
Catherine “Kitty” Gish Williams | November 8, 1929 — November 1, 2022

November 8, 1929 — November 1, 2022

Catherine “Kitty” Gish Williams passed away peacefully on All Saint’s Day, November 1, 2022, at her home on Thornwood Lane in San Marco, one week short of her 93rd birthday.

Born on November 8, 1929, to Nicholas and Ona Mae Gish, Kitty was a lifelong resident of Jacksonville.

Kitty attended Robert E. Lee High School and Florida State University. She married the love of her life, W. Joe Williams, in 1951 at Riverside Presbyterian Church. Together they raised three children. Her life was rich with a loving family, very special friends and neighbors that were a great source of joy for her.

Kitty had a long and varied career that began when she was a teen working in her father’s store, Nick’s 5 & Dime, on N.Davis Street. She attributed her strong work ethic to her entrepreneurial parents. She worked as a court reporter for Chief Counselor J.M. Lorimier Jr. at the Jacksonville Juvenile Court. Kitty and her husband owned and managed Del-Mar Photography Studio on West Forsyth in downtown Jacksonville. She also worked for Irwin Marketing Research. Kitty and Joe partnered again in real estate—Kitty held her real estate license until she was in her late 80’s. She worked for 20 years at St Vincent’s Medical Center until she retired at the age of 79. Kitty found much joy in caring for patients in Nuclear Cardiology/Radiology departments. She made lifelong friends throughout her career.

Kitty loved being a mom to Kim Williams Forister, Mark Williams and Kara Williams, and being a grandmother to Niki Forister. She was active and supportive in the lives of her children and their friends, whether as PTA president, volunteer, chaperone, chauffeur, compassionate listener, or confidante. Kitty always had a close and loving relationship with each of her children. They loved her dearly and their daily phone calls and frequent visits brought much joy to her life.

Kitty and Joe shared a special love for their granddaughter Niki. Kitty (Nana) and Niki loved spending time together, could talk on the phone for hours, they had a very close relationship and a deep trust in one another. Kitty was supportive and proud of her granddaughter.

A creative seamstress, she loved making beautiful clothes, holiday costumes and party gifts. She was an artist, loved painting and sketching. Long before Beanie Babies, neighborhood children loved taking home her beanbag animals. Her giving nature and devotion to children continued throughout her life; a week before she passed away, she threw a Kilwins ice cream party for all the children on Thornwood Lane.

Kitty and Joe had bought her parents’ home on Thornwood Lane in San Marco, where Kitty lived as a teenager. Daughter Kara returned to Jacksonville to be with Kitty when Joe passed in 1998. They remained housemates and best friends for the rest of Kitty’s life, traveling together, enjoying one another’s friends, even both working at St. Vincent’s for a time. One of Kitty’s favorite trips was going to Europe – visiting relatives, catching the London underground tube to see Les Misérables at the Palace Theatre, and attending the once-a-decade Oberammergau Passion Play in Bavaria, Germany.

Catherine “Kitty” Gish Williams
Catherine “Kitty” Gish Williams

Kitty was a lifelong learner and remained active, attending classes at the YMCA, UF/IFAS Extension, St. Vincent’s Club 55 and more. She was a PBS fan, watching everything from nature shows to dramas to news and enjoyed discussing it all with family and friends. She was a poll worker for years and was making get-out-to-vote phone calls from home the week she passed. She enjoyed traveling, great memories were made on family trips to Hawaii, Sanibel Island, N.C. Mountains, Tennessee, and New York City. She enjoyed visiting her relatives through the years in Doerun, GA., Reno, NV., Westport, CT., and Texas. She loved Broadway shows, Symphony concerts, National Public Radio (NPR), classical music, Frank Sinatra, reading, cooking (her kibbeh and rolled grape leaves were renowned), “Sunday Morning” on CBS, church, her Lee High School reunion luncheons, dinner and trips with her ESP (Extra Special People) church group. She also loved dark chocolate, meditation music and prayer.

Kitty Williams exuded faith, grace, love, and joy. She was intelligent, wise, warm hearted, and sincere. She radiated kindness, warmth, and love for everyone. Kitty had a gift of making everyone feel special. She had a keen sense of humor, a beautiful smile, and a wonderful laugh.

She was very independent and proud of her self-sufficiency and positive attitude. She beat cancer three times and tackled other health problems with a positive mindset. Her doctors called her a walking miracle. Special thanks to Dr. Eduardo Balbona, Dr. Leann Fox, RN Christine Bromley, Dr. Daniel Wyzan and so many others. Kitty appreciated you all.

Catherine “Kitty” Gish Williams leaves a legacy of love for others that will endure for eternity. Her presence and love of life will be greatly missed by those who knew her.

She is preceded in death by her parents, sisters – Shirley Gish Griffin and Marie Gish Rhodes, and brother David Gish. She is survived by her three children – Kimberly Forister (Wayne), Kara Williams, Mark Williams, and granddaughter Nicole Forister, nieces and nephews, and extended family.

A Memorial Service will be held at 1:00pm on Sunday, December 18, 2022, at South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church, 2137 Hendricks Avenue, Jacksonville Florida 32207.

Kitty will be laid to rest next to her husband W. Joe Williams at a private burial in Doerun, Georgia.

“Rather than mourn the absence of the flame, let us celebrate how brightly it burned.”

Let’s comfort one another with favorite memories, of sharing times when we were all together. Let’s celebrate the spirit of one very special life, so in our hearts the flame with burn forever.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any memorial contributions be made to the following charities in Catherine “Kitty” Williams’s honor. Alzheimers Association (Kitty was a caregiver for many years for her mother who had Alzheimers) or Downtown Ecumenical Services (DESC).

Alzheimers Association, Central and North Florida Chapter, 14010 Roosevelt Blvd. Suite 709, Clearwater, Florida 33762   407-951-7992

DESC — Downtown Ecumenical Services ( 215 N. Ocean Street, Jacksonville Florida 32202. 904-358-7955

Memories and Condolences may be shared at Hardage-Giddens Oaklawn Chapel and Cemetery on Kitty’s Memory Wall  or

If you cannot join us in person; join us via live stream at: South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church – 1:00pm, Sunday, December 18, 2022

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