As a journalist, I understand that a fortune in compensation will remain just beyond my grasp, and as a journalist, I understand that the bulk of those in my profession are there with me, knee deep in community news, knee deep in quotes and waiting on a phone call from the local high school coach or the e-mailed agenda of a city council meeting.
As a journalist, I am rewarded by the community in which I cover and the thousands of stories that await my detection, but sometimes, those stories find me, and as I sat at my desk the first week of the New Year, my editor helped yet another discover my location.
He handed me a book written by “Keme” Clemence W. Williams of Easley.
“Keme” is an 87-year-old native of Easley and one of its true citizens, marked by her tenure and standards of community improvement.
Most of you know her, and if not in person, then perhaps by name as many of you have probably passed by her titled portrait hanging in the Adult Reading Room of the Kimberly Hampton Memorial Library and wondered who the young, beautiful woman was in the photograph.
I know I did, and as I sat in her kitchen some 70 years after the photo was taken, it came to me.
“I know you,” I said. “I’ve seen your photograph in the library.”
In fact, there are two portraits hanging in the Williams–Till Reading Room of the library, Clemence Williams, and her sister, Dorothy Till, also known as “Dot”.
“Keme” donated $40,000 to the library shortly after “Dot’s” death in 1999, and I had the luxury of meeting “Keme” while simply doing my job as a reporter.
I was assigned to do a feature on a local woman who was donating a book to the library in Easley, and that woman of course, was Clemence W. Williams.
The book is an autobiography entitled, “My Different Worlds, Eighty-Six Years of What I Think I remember”.
Upon meeting her, the first thing she wanted to do was give me a tour of her home, a house that could provide a valuable addition to any museum as a detailed chronicle of American life in the 20th Century, a house that she designed and decorated with her paintings, charcoal drawings, and portraits of her and her sister, “Dot”
And as we toured each room, and as I scanned the walls, she provided insight to each one of the framed pieces of art, telling me what medium she used and what inspired her to create it.
And there were photographs, both black and white and in color and from each decade of the previous century covering the four walls of every room and hanging as a visual documentation to seven decades of one American’s life.
We sat in her kitchen for over an hour and talked about her time at Furman University during the Second Word War, the young men in uniform stationed nearby, and the six proposals of marriage that some of the boys fired in her direction.
We talked about her life as an educator and librarian, we talked about her trips to Europe, her family, and in particular, we talked of “Dot”.
But this short contribution of mine cannot breach the surface of “Keme” and her story, and I urge all of you in the City of Easley to find her book and learn something about one of your neighbors.
I am sure that there are a thousand similar stories in a thousand communities across this country, but this one belongs to Easley, and it is now our story.