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Long time Tryon Palace director dies

By Kyle Horan
Published On: Oct 16 2012 05:52:08 PM CDT
New Bern -

The director for Tryon Palace for the past 30 years and a well loved community member has died.

Kay Williams started her job at the colonial site in 1983. She helped develop and preserve the palace and created a history center in downtown New Bern.

"We were friends through the years working together on different committees and different clubs," Elinor Hawkins said. Hawkins worked with Williams throughout the years on the Tryon Palace Commission. Hawkins said she counts Williams as a friend. Of which Williams has many.

"I'm very sad for myself, but for Kay, we can't wish her here when she is so sick," Hawkins said.

Williams lost her battle with esophageal cancer on October the 14th. Only several weeks after retiring from her position at Tryon Palace.

"She was Tryon Palace, she was a mover and a shaker. She had ideas, and she was also a negotiator," Jim Congleton said. Congleton has been friends with Williams since the 90s. "As much as the sun is shining today, there's a little cloud overhead. I've lost a friend, I've lost a colleague, I've lost a wonderful person in my life."

Before working at Tryon Palace, Williams was the director of Swiss Bear, a downtown development group. Friends said she did such a good job there, she was immediately hired to the position of Tryon Palace director when it opened up.

"From the first time I met her, she loved New Bern and she promoted it everywhere she could. She was a fearless defender of everything about New Bern," Peter Sandbeck said. "She didn't mind going into battle. She was very strategic she always kept her eye on the prize."

Sandbeck worked with Williams. He said Williams took Tryon Palace and turned it into a modern museum.

The funeral for Kay Williams will be held October the 17th at the New Bern Memorial Cemetery at 3:30 p.m. Donations are asked to be made to the Tryon Palace Commission for the Kay P. Williams Endowment.