Mary Hoffman Williams, 89, Ran Carousel Boutique

Mary Hoffman Williams died August 18 in Las Vegas, Nev. She was 89.

Born Jan. 23, 1915, the first child of Robert and Viola Richardson Hoffman, she was raised and educated in the Somerville, N.J., public school system. She was graduated from Somerville high school in 1933 with honors.

Mary embarked on her journey for higher education at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C. Due to her sense of responsibility to her family, she returned home to Somerville after two years to work and assist with the care of her ailing father.

In 1938, she married Theodore Hope Williams and of that union was born a daughter, Margaret Faith.

Because of her dedication and commitment to education, Mary continued her college education. She graduated from New York University in 1946 with a bachelor of science degree in biology while managing to work full time. With that degree, Mary went on to become a microbiologist for Ortho Pharmaceuticals, the first African American to work for a Johnson & Johnson Co.

Mary eventually went back to school obtaining a master's degree in library science from Rutgers University, which she used in her career as a librarian at Franklin High School in Somerset, N.J.

Fifty-four years ago, Mary and her husband, Theodore, vacationed on Martha's Vineyard. They loved it so much that they returned every year and decided to make that the place that they would retire.

After retiring, Mary started a successful retail business on the Vineyard which she named The Carousel of Martha's Vineyard, a boutique of fine imports which was featured in Ebony Magazine. She owned and operated The Carousel for nearly 20 years before choosing to enjoy her winters in Las Vegas, Nev., with her daughter, Margaret.

As Mary often acknowledged, she was blessed to be able to enjoy the warm weather and relaxed lifestyle of both Martha's Vineyard and Las Vegas.

Throughout her life, Mary was very active socially and civically. She and her sister, the late Roberta Crews, were instrumental in the founding of the Somerville chapter of the National Council of Negro Women. Mary also started a widows network group, The Lunch Bunch, that meets monthly on the Vineyard. She was a member of the Vineyard chapter of the NAACP, and of an Island book club.

She is survived by her brother, Abram Hoffman, and his wife, Charlene, of Plainfield, N.J.; her daughter, Margaret Williams Jones of Las Vegas, Nev.; her granddaughter, Roberta Jones of the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania; two cousins, five nieces, one nephew, five great nieces, four great nephews and a host of friends.

Services were held in Somerset, N.J. Mary was interred in the Arlington National Cemetery on Sept. 1. A memorial service in her memory will be held here on the Vineyard in August of 2005.