A brief memorial service and luncheon celebrating the life of Grace Darling “Bambi” (Nelson) Williams will be held at 11:30 AM, Wednesday, April 27th, 2022, at the Mills Park Hotel Banquet Hall in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with the Reverend Daria Schaffnit officiating.
Doors will open at 11 AM, and seating will be limited, with preference given to our elders and the differently abled. Masks will be required. The eulogy will be given by Dr. Alphonso Smith, Professor Emeritus of Wright State University, and a family tribute will be given by Sarah Whitledge Taylor, National 1st Vice President of the American Gold Star Mothers. Bambi died early Sunday morning, March 13th, 2022, at Friends Care Community, following a week-long hospital stay in mid-January, and then a 2-month battle with the devastating cardiac and pulmonary after effects of COVID-19. The photo above was taken at FCC on January 21st, the day after returning from the hospital.
At Friends Care, Bambi was fortunate to be able to die in familiar surroundings, tended to by loving and devoted family, friends, and caregivers, including a cardiac and Covid specialist from Hospice of Dayton. Bambi was born in 1932 in Philadelphia, PA, to the late Theodosia Darling (Seibold) Nelson and William George Nelson, Jr. She grew up in Roanoke, VA, in a loving family where she was the youngest of 6 children—her own mother having married for the first time to a widower with 4 older children. She and her youngest sister, “Teddy,” both attended Roanoke’s Jefferson High and then went on to Denison University, in Granville, OH. Bambi graduated from Denison in 1953, with a degree in Sociology and double majors in Psychology and Philosophy. During her studies at Denison, Bambi met both her first and second husband, Dr. Francis Trueman Williams, Jr., known locally as “Frank.” Bambi and Frank married for the first time on September 11th, 1953,
remained friends and co-parents for 18 years following a peaceful dissolution in 1985, and then remarried at Hospice of Dayton, 4 days prior to Frank’s death on March 23rd, 2002.
Always a devoted champion of children, women, elders, and the most vulnerable members of our society, Bambi continued her studies at Roanoke College, Antioch College, Wittenberg University, and The Ohio State University, earning several certifications in Elementary Education. While Frank was earning his PhD at OSU, Bambi first worked as the sole proofreader for Nationwide Insurance in downtown Columbus, then taught third grade at Hilliard Elementary in 1956, and served as the children’s librarian at Tremont Elementary and Upper Arlington (1957-1958). Upon moving to Yellow Springs in 1958, when Frank joined the science faculty as an organic chemist at Antioch College, Bambi and Frank noticed, like legions of other hopeful Yellow Springers both before and since, that the Village had a serious housing shortage. They first rented one of the twin duplexes on West North College Street, then built a small brick ranch in the then-brand-new subdivision known as Fair Acres, on the north end of town. Serving first as a substitute teacher, and then full-time, Bambi taught kindergarten at Mills Lawn from 1959 until her own children came along.
After moving into 210 Gardendale Drive, Bambi and Frank were finally able to achieve their dreams of becoming parents through Montgomery Co. Children & Family Services, where they first adopted their daughter Sam (originally named Stephanie) at age 13 months, in 1962; then their son Whit, at age 6 months, in 1964. They traveled widely, spending Frank’s sabbaticals in Midland, Michigan; London, England; and Tübingen, Germany, in the ’60s. and ’70s.
Having discovered a love and a knack for introducing incoming faculty wives to the village, Bambi first earned her real estate license in 1971, and a lifelong career was born. Bambi worked for Dunphy Real Estate and then Sanford Realty before joining Roth Realty and earning her broker’s license in order to open the Yellow Springs offices of Roth’s Gallery of Homes. Later she joined Heritage Realtors, which eventually became Coldwell Banker Heritage, from which she retired as a licensed Broker Associate and Associate Partner. In 2011, she was awarded the status of Realtor Emerita from the National Association of Realtors. Over the years she made great use of her teaching skills by patiently and kindly training numerous incoming Realtors, including her own daughter, Sam, who joined her in business in 2004. She also performed countless hours of community service and served on numerous boards, including the Antioch School, the Yellow Springs Library Association, the Glen Helen Association, Easter Seals, Planned Parenthood, and Zonta International, and many others.
Throughout her 89 years, Bambi cherished her time spent with family and friends. She loved to travel, both nationally and internationally, visiting the Caribbean, Key West, Ireland, and, quite frequently, Pelee Island with her best friend and constant companion from 2002 onward, Bob Baldwin. Several other family trips she considered highlights were repeated visits to Europe, Australia, Japan, and Thailand. She also enjoyed attending several Gold Star Mother’s Weekends in Washington, D.C., where her beloved maternal grandmother, Grace Darling Whitaker Seibold (for whom Bambi was named) originally founded the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., just 4 years before Bambi was born. Surviving are Bambi’s sister-in-law, Jennie Anita Westlake Findley, of Flemington, WV; daughter, (Stephanie) Samantha Williams Eckenrode, of Yellow Springs; son, Frank Whitaker “Whit” Williams, of Clifton; granddaughter, Miriam Eckenrode Saari and her husband, Aaron, of Cincinnati; and grandson, William Polo Chaikwang, of Yellow Springs. She also leaves behind dear friends Bob Baldwin, Betsy Whitney, Nina Myatt, and Phyllis Logan; as well as a whole host of other extended family members, surrogate family, and beloved Friends Care Community friends and caregivers.
Bambi was a delightful spirit, with an endless “attitude of gratitude,” and a consistently peaceful and positive personality. She was truly a bright light upon this earth. Perfectly named, she was gracious, darling…and truly a dear. In addition to her parents and five older brothers and sisters, Bambi was preceded in death by her husband, Frank, and her son-in-law, Eddie Eckenrode.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., 2128 Leroy Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008; Planned Parenthood; the Yellow Springs Community Foundation; or the Glen Helen Association. Online condolences may be expressed at Conroy Funeral Home’s online site, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.