2013-09-05 / Obituaries

Pearl Carter Williams

Pearl Carter Williams, 97, widow of the late Winfred (Winnie) Williams and daughter of pioneer Mariposans, died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Mariposa on Aug. 28, 2013.

Born in Lancaster on Aug. 17, 1916, Pearl was the fifth child of nine born to Garfield Arthur and Margaretha Evert Carter. The family moved to Mariposa in 1920 and homesteaded property on what is now Carter Road. The early home was a log cabin built by her father and her older brother. A new home made from trees cut down on their property and sawn at the family’s mill was later built and still stands.

Her father and Fred Finch built the Bear Creek schoolhouse which Pearl attended as a child, riding a donkey to school. As a youngster, she liked to work on her parent’s and sisters’ hair. Her older sisters were studying nursing, but Pearl wanted to become a beautician, like her older sister, Grace.

A proud Mariposa High School alumna, Pearl was one of two surviving members of the class of 1935, the other being Bill Elliott. While at Mariposa High School, Pearl met, was courted by and became engaged to Winfred (Winnie) Williams.

To study for her chosen career, Pearl went to live with family in Southern California. She obtained her license, worked and saved for her custom made bridal gown and veil, which she treasured and kept for years. She started her career in Tujunga, working at Chappie’s salon.

Pearl returned to Mariposa and on Jan. 18, 1937, she and Winnie married in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on the Church’s 75th anniversary. After a brief honeymoon in the Bay Area, the newlyweds settled in town, eventually building their home on what became Williams Road.

Pearl’s first job in Mariposa was with Mrs. Hampton (Alice Ellingham’s mother). Later she worked as a cosmetologist at night at her husband’s barber shop on Charles Street. Pearl moved to Trent’s when it was established in 1974. Other family members joined Pearl and Trent at the new shop, Pearl’s sister Grace Kelly, and cousin Marilyn Reece, as hairdressers and Sharon Carter, as manicurist. Winnie joined them after he retired from his barber shop downtown. A licensed cosmetologist for over 70 years, Pearl continued to work in her son Trent’s shop until she was 94 years old.

With the late Louise Hudson, Pearl gave classes in flower arrangement and decorated for many weddings. She founded and was president of the Mariposa Garden Club, remaining active for many years. She planted bushes in the stone planter on Bullion Street from the Courthouse to 8th Street, assisted Will Wyre with the construction of the fireplace in the History Center, and helped Father Walsh and Winnie with the many walks and monuments at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

A devout Catholic, Pearl served with the church’s altar society.

She was a fixture at the Mariposa County Fair, displaying her prize-winning floral arrangements and working as a Floriculture and Art Building Superintendent. As a nonagenarian, she still entered cut flowers in the fair.

As her growing sons attended local schools, Pearl belonged to the PTA and was a room mother for each of her sons.

As a Friend of the Library and, eventually, a life member, she helped Ken Meriam with his drives for library funding.

Her affiliation with Native Daughters of the Golden West lasted throughout her life and she became its oldest member.

For years, she and Winnie belonged to the Mariposa Ball Room Dance Club whose members enjoyed an annual New Year’s Eve dinner/dance at the Marine Memorial in San Francisco.

Winnie’s retirement from his barber shop was marked by a community gift of an Alaskan Cruise, which was the first of their annual Alaskan cruises.

Pearl’s travels took her to the Holy Land, Asia and Europe, including Rome and Vatican City, where she eventually saw two popes. She was the only sibling to visit their mother’s homeland in Luxembourg. In China, she walked on the Great Wall.

In spite of her travels, Pearl never lost her passion for Mariposa, Half Dome, Alaska and the United States Flag—or her fondness for dancing and candy, especially See’s milk chocolates. Sitting on her front porch, she spent pleasant hours in her final months as she viewed her yard and the cars on the highway headed to Yosemite.

Like her public-spirited husband, Pearl believed in giving back to her community. Winnie would go to the hospital to barber for the sick and Pearl would do the same for shut-ins.

In 2000, they were named Outstanding Senior Couple of Mariposa by the Commission on Aging. They were also honored with the Blue Ribbon Award from the Western Fairs Association.

In 2010, Pearl and her sons were chosen Business Family of the Year by the Mariposa Chamber of Commerce. She considered this her finest achievement.

In 1987, Pearl and Winnie celebrated their golden wedding anniversary by renewing their vows in front of relatives and friends. Their marriage endured for 67 years.

Surviving are her three sons, Gary, Trent and Bill; her sister, Mrs. Herbert (Phyllis) Reese of Murphys; her sister-in-law, Mrs. George (Marge) Carter, numerous nieces and nephews and scores of grieving friends. She will be missed, not forgotten.

Her vigil service took place on Tuesday, with a rosary on Tuesday evening. A Mass of Resurrection was said by Father Rod Craig and Monsignor James Logan on Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church—which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Pearl was laid to rest in the family plot at St. Joseph’s.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to John C. Fremont Hospice, Mariposa County High School Student Loan Program or the Mariposa Museum and History Center.

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