‘Always uplifting’: Community says final goodbyes to activist dedicated to stopping violence

Community honors activist dedicated to stopping violence in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Community members and loved ones paid tribute to an advocate who helped hundreds of families and dedicated her life to stopping violence in Charlotte.

Judy Williams passed away after battling lung cancer for more than two years.

They gathered at Steele Cree Church Saturday to remember Williams, her life and her legacy.

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“It was always such a joy and such a comfort to spend time with her,” a loved one said. “She was always uplifting. She always had a good word. She always had a great idea. She was always ‘Let’s go, let’s do, let’s be.'”

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She co-founded the group Mothers of Murdered Offspring (MOM-O) in 1993 after her goddaughter was murdered by a serial killer.

Ever since, she has organized hundreds of candlelight vigils for homicide victims and supported their families as they fought for justice.

“I don’t always remember the names, but I don’t forget the faces,” Williams told Channel 9′s Mark Becker. “I’m never going to give up hope. I think when we give up hope we have nowhere to go but down.”

Lisa Crawford began working with Williams and MOM-O in 2001 and marveled at her courage and compassion.

“She said this is what she was meant to do. It gave her life, it gave her purpose,” Crawford said. “People would think that when the next murder happened or the next family came around that she would forget. She never, ever forgot. That’s the part that’s going to be hard to fill because she never forgot. She never forgot anybody.”

After her diagnosis, Williams told Channel 9 she believed the second-hand smoke she was exposed to at so many MOM-O vigils and events over the years may have caused her cancer.

The cancer slowed her down, but didn’t stop Williams. In January, she gathered with families who had lost loved ones in 2019.

Activist dedicated to stopping violence in Charlotte dies after battle with cancer

“2020 has to be better,” Williams said. “We can’t go through this another year.”

In May, her friends surprised her with a birthday celebration but the cancer had taken its toll and Williams passed away on Saturday.

Judy Williams on cancer diagnosis

There were also two outdoor candlelight vigils for “Miss Judy" following her death.

The first will was on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Kingspark Apartments, where she was the property manager for over 44 years.

The group said the vigil was open to the public, current and all former residents of the Kingspark Apartment community.

The second vigil was held on Friday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. at Marshall Park.

The Mothers of Murdered Offspring held a memorial service and candlelight vigil in honor of Williams.

Masks were mandatory at both vigils and social distancing will be enforced.