You can hear much of Professor Princess Williams in her mother’s voice. Ms. Lucille Williams walks to the podium, and after several words of thanking the assembled staff, students and professors for coming to her daughter’s memorial, she tells a story about her daughters birth that makes the room erupt in laughter.
Only a few weeks after the passing of her daughter, Ms. Lucille Williams presents a strong and temperate figure. Her person is almost uncanny to the way her daughter would come up to the front of the classroom each school day to teach.
Princess Williams, Assistant Professor of Communications, died in her home on Sunday, March 16 from complications due to adult onset diabetes at the age of 51. A memorial service was hosted Monday, April 1 in the Montauk Point Room of the Babylon Student Center for faculty, students, or staff, family and friends.
Her untimely death came as such a shock for many students. Just by the way she presented herself in the front of the class, most did not know that there were any health problems due to her appearance of constant vitality.
“Diabetes affects your whole body,” said her brother Daryl Williams. There was a period of a few years between 2009 to 2011 where her condition got suddenly worse. Daryl was, at the time, living in Atlanta, Georgia when he got a call that Princess was in the hospital and had been stricken with a diabetic coma. He learned she had to have a kidney transplant. He immediately wanted to get tested to see if he was a match. On April 7, 2011, Daryl gave Princess one of his kidneys, one that when inside her Princess affectionately called “Little Daryl.”
“She would always say ‘It’s Showtime’,” said Daryl. It is a quote from 1994 film The Mask. She would say this before she did anything important, as if she was going up on stage and was just getting into character.
Princess Lucille Williams was born in Brooklyn April 12, 1962 to Lucille Williams and the late Johnny Ealey as the fourth of eight children. Princess dropped out of High School but would eventually obtain her GED and enroll in John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 1992, she was also diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes but it didn’t stop her in her quest for higher education. Eventually in 1995 she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Communications and in 1998 she obtained her Master’s of Science degree from Syracuse University.
In 1999 she returned to New York and accepted a teaching position at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC). She moved from Director of Forensics to Assistant Academic Chair of Communications/TV/Radio & Film Department to Academic Chair of Communications/Arts Department at the Grant Campus before returning to full time teaching in 2007.
Among her more important interests were travel, tennis and casino gambling. Some of her greatest expeditions other than her trip to the Caribbean were her trips to casinos along with longtime friend Danielle Davis.
“What would originally be single day trips would turn into three-day excursions,” Davis said. “She had a really big personality, and a big, warm, genuine smile that made you feel that you were really loved. She made a big impact upon students.”
“Originally I did not want to be here, at Suffolk” said Suffolk student attending the memorial Carina Basile, a tear rolling at a slow speed down her cheek to rest at the corner of her mouth. She speaks with red eyes and a sad smile. “The first thing we all thought when we first took her class was that she was crazy. She gave me a reason to come here. She talked to students all the time after class she was like a counselor.”
Professor of Communications Wren Levitt shared an office with Princess for many years. “We never had any conflict, none. She was always so loving. It has gotten much more quiet in the office without her.”
Due to her untimely death, Academic Chair and Professor of Communications Thomas Bovino will be taking over the majority of the COM101 classes that were run by Professor Williams. One other COM101 class will be directed by Professor Dante Morelli. Dr. Daniel Awodiya will be taking on several of the Persuasion classes hosted online.
When Ms. Lucille Williams speaks, her language paints a picture of understanding of just what family Princess came from. “Knowledge opens your mind. You can see clearer,” she said. “I believe in education.”