BETTY LAURA STREETMAN WILLIAMSON
Betty Laura Streetman Williamson died Thursday July 22, 2021 at home after a long battle with congestive heart failure. She was born November 14, 1935 to Walter Curtis Streetman, Sr. and Lillian Elizabeth Turner Streetman, and was a lifelong resident of Durant. She attended school in Durant and at Holmes Junior College, and was active in the choral programs at both. She later studied Social Work at Mississippi University for Women.
In Miss Frances Allen’s sixth grade she learned to sing alto and loved singing until the end of her days. She was a faithful member of her church choir until she was no longer able to attend church. There, she was also a faithful Sunday School teacher, later becoming Superintendent.
Her prayer life was legendary.
She had a varied work history beginning in high school working at Ben Franklin. On her first Saturday there she was sent to Browne Brothers to get change and was bewildered by the ancient oversized fives they gave her to the great amusement of her boss, Reeves Stonestreet, Sr. She later worked at Talon, and then operated a United Dollar Store. Many still remember her beautiful Easter Baskets. After closing the store she worked as an inspector at Sportswear until Mrs. Jean McLellan Carson hired her at the now Department of Human Services, where she worked for 23 years, retiring as Supervisor of Child Support. While there she developed close relationships with both coworkers and clients.
Often attributing it to her mother’s Chennault genes, she was a wonderful cook and avid baker, especially enjoying sharing with friends and family. A lifelong teetotaler, she always got someone else to buy the beer or spirits for her recipes.
She loved all babies and children and enjoyed baby sitting, and as an empty nester claimed Breck Frazure as her own. She was a devoted, determined, and very self-sacrificing mother.
Like almost all of the Turners and Streetmans she had a great sense of humor, and until disease took her memory was a de facto reference historian for her group of Durant alumni. She enjoyed all the reunions.
As a lover of the English language she loved reading and filling in at the library, was an occasional poet, and a devotee of the King James Bible. She mourned the loss of traditional language in religious rites, especially in hymns, saying she missed all the ways earlier writers could “beautifully express themselves.” Although she didn’t curse herself, she did have an appreciation for the eloquence of some of the former Durant practitioners. She listened intently to all her uncles’ marvelous stories and tales.
As a singer and lover of music of many varied genres including Italian and French Opera, choral music, and African American spirituals, she made sure her children were musically educated and exposed, especially if the performance was even remotely connected to “Miss Madge.” Leontyne Price, Rise Stevens, Della Reese, the Rat Pack, Jessye Norman, and so many others were favorites. She often said, “I could wake from a coma” to Marilyn Horne’s “My heart at thy dear voice.”
As a change-of-life baby, she lost her parents in her teens and twenties. Among their siblings, she lost two beloved aunts: the inimitable Elizabeth Ritter and “Auntie” (Estelle Turner,) who was like a second mother. All her siblings and their spouses predeceased her: Walter and Minnie Streetman, J. T. “Wimpy” and Irene Williams, Jack and “Bill” Deloach, Bill and Jennie Lee Osborn, and Robert and Joyce Streetman. Despite her strong faith, she never fully recovered from the loss of her sister-in-law, Minnie Streetman, niece Doodle Potts, or her nephew, Jerry Streetman. Most recently she lost beloved nephews Sonny Potts and Billy Lewis.
She is survived by her son David Williamson of Durant, her daughter Laura Clark (Mark) of Mason, OH, three grandchildren: Erin Clark of Johnson City, TN, Sara Clark of Mason, OH, and Michael Clark of Mason, OH. She is also survived by cousins, “BaSista” (Gayle Lewis) and her other nieces and nephews, Jeri Jo McCleskey (Ray), with whom she shared a birthday and an indissoluble bond, Kent Lewis (Ginger), Gay Hammond (Eddie), Leigh Johnson (David), Gil Potts (Sonja), and her other great nieces and nephews, great-great nieces and nephews, and great-great-great nieces and nephews, and a host of friends.
The funeral was held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28 at The Durant Church, with the Rev David Cain officiating. Southern Funeral Home has charge of all the arrangements. There was a visitation at the church starting at noon.
The family gratefully acknowledges all the many kindnesses to Mama and us from the wonderful Durant Community, both at home and abroad, The Durant Church, St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Lexington, Cindy Wells Wilson and The Episcopal Church of the Nativity, Greenwood, our Lexington, West, Goodman and Tchula friends, StaHome, especially Renette, Courtney, Angela, and Julie, Southern Funeral Home, Howell & Heggie, and with special thanks Joe, Tina, George, Alicia, David, Mr Bobby, Mrs Killebrew, the Shrocks, the Cains, the Lands, Shirley, Jeri Jo, Ray, and BaSista, and all those others we didn’t name through our cloud of grief.
Memorials may be made to The Durant Church, PO Box 147, Durant, MS 39063, the Holmes County Arts Council, PO Box 638, Lexington, MS 39095 or the donor’s favorite charity.