Longtime Davis resident Patricia 'Pat' Williams, a mental health leader in Yolo County who established Pine Tree Gardens residential group home in Davis and Safe Harbor Crisis House in Woodland, and co-founded the Yolo Community Care Continuum, died of pneumonia Aug. 16 at North Sacramento Kaiser Hospital. She was 86.
Among many accolades, Williams and her husband, Bill, received the Thong Hy Huynh Memorial Award from the Davis Human Relations Commission in 2002 for their humanitarian work. And last year, a conference room in Yolo County's Bauer Building in Woodland was named for the couple.
Born Feb. 14, 1923, in East Orange, N.J., Pat Williams graduated from Montclair High School in 1941 and enrolled at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., in home economics.
During her freshman year, she met Bill Williams at a Quaker peace conference on causes of war; they married on Nov. 27, 1943, in Sage Chapel at Cornell while Bill was on a two-day leave from the U.S. Army where he served as a second lieutenant with the field artillery.
Pat Williams graduated from Cornell in 1944 with a bachelor's degree in dietetics and home economics. She worked for two years as a dietitian at the Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, N.J.
Bill Williams returned to Cornell in 1946 to complete his bachelor's degree, master's degree and Ph.D. During this time the couple had three children - David, Kathy and Andy. Pat enjoyed the outings and hikes that Bill led for the family.
The UCD department of agronomy hired Bill in April 1951 and the Williams family moved to Davis, where Bill soon became a full professor. Upon receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1960 to Adelaide University, Australia, Bill took his family there for one year, to Pat's great delight.
Pat Williams loved to start worthwhile organizations. In 1958, she founded the Unitarian Service Committee Group in Davis. Upon returning home from Australia in 1961, she began the United Nations Association Chapter in Yolo County.
Beginning in 1965, the couple's oldest son, David, developed unipolar depression with some schizophrenia at age 17. While David continually battled depression, he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. However, with the discovery of Prozac still in the future, David committed suicide in February 1981.
In 1968, the Williamses' youngest son, Andy, developed manic-depression and schizophrenia at age 17 while in his senior year of high school and first quarter of college. As Pat tried to help Andy, he drove around California, behaving erratically, and finally flew to Washington, D.C., to tell President Nixon how to run the country; he landed in jail.
Williams sorely wished for mental health services in Davis for her two sons. In 1965 there were none. By 1968, the only service available in Davis was the Yolo County psychiatrist, Cap Thomson, visiting backstage at the Veterans' Memorial Theater on 14th Street for half a day once a week.
Searching for answers in her quest for services, Williams went to work as an eligibility and social worker for the Yolo County Social Services Department from 1968 to 1972.
By 1972, Andy voluntarily went to Napa State Hospital for nine months where he found some medicine that worked for him. Napa then sent him to San Mateo County to a group home for 14 people that offered many work activities. Andy enjoyed assisting at a nursery school.
While Andy was safe in the San Mateo County mental health system, in 1972 Williams bought the Davis Discovery Preschool & Child Care Center, studied for and received a California teaching credential specializing in early childhood development, and served as the school's director.
In 1976, Williams started the self-help group, Families for Mental Recovery, soon renamed AMI-Yolo (Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Yolo County), the fourth chapter in California, and again renamed NAMI-Yolo when it joined the national organization.
In 1977, she established the Yolo Satellite Housing Inc. for housing adults living with mental illness. In 1978, she was a co-founder of the Yolo Community Care Continuum, a community residential treatment service program funded by Bates legislation and a grant that Williams helped write.
In 1979, she organized a limited partnership called Farmhouse Associates to purchase a house in the country with 10 acres to start a long-term treatment facility for adults living with mental illness. The Farmhouse is now part of YCCC.
In 1982, Williams started a nonprofit corporation called Safe Harbor Crisis House Inc. to provide crisis care in the house she and Bill purchased on Kentucky Avenue in Woodland. That same year, the couple purchased two houses at auction and Williams moved them to an empty lot on College Street in Woodland; they're now named Haven House and Be House. All three homes are part of YCCC as well.
In 1983, the Williamses sold the Discovery Preschool so they could buy a house they opened in 1986 as Pine Tree Gardens West, a long-term residential board and care home for adults living with mental illness. Andy moved in, leaving San Mateo County after 14 years of treatment. Williams managed as the director until 1997, at which time Cayce Wallace began teaching independent living classes with behavioral cognitive therapy to create a day treatment program.
In 1987 at Williams', urging, then-Davis Mayor Dave Rosenberg authored a proclamation recognizing Worldwide Affective Disorder Awareness Day on Jan. 22. Williams arranged an annual dinner and speaker; the event is now called the annual NAMI-Yolo Winter Dinner. Also in 1987, Williams staged the first walkathon in May to benefit Pine Tree Gardens; the event is now an annual fundraiser.
The following year, she began the Friday night singalong at Pine Tree Gardens, with her son Andy playing the guitar and leading the group.
In 1990, Williams secured a HUD grant and opened Pine Tree Gardens East. Andy moved in, leaving Pine Tree Gardens West (home to a younger crowd), where he happily stayed until he died of pneumonia in 1999.
In 2002, the Williamses purchased the Pine Tree Gardens administration building, and later that year, they were honored with the Thong Hy Huynh Memorial Award from the Davis Human Relations Commission for their humanitarian work. They were also recognized in October 2002 by the Yolo County Mental Health Services Agency 'for their many years of dedication, endless courage, unlimited time and support for the mental health community of Yolo County.'
In 2006, Williams founded the Yolo County Chapter of Health Care For All, which advocates for single payer universal health care.
The following year, Pine Tree Gardens merged with Turning Point Community Programs, a Sacramento-based mental health organization that serves five counties (Stanislaus, Nevada, Fresno, Sacramento and Yolo) that is guided by Williams' longtime friend, John Buck. For several years early on, Buck was Andy's official 'buddy.'
And in 2008, a conference room in the Herbert Bauer Building in Woodland was named for Pat and Bill Williams.
Due to the state and county budget crisis last year endangering many of the mental health programs established by the Williams family, she established a YCCC emergency fund in May 2008.
Family members said Williams was a 'kind, helpful, joyful person whose ready interest and big smile lifted people's spirits.' She was beloved by many. Each spring she loved to plant morning glories in pots and give them to her friends. She loved nature, especially frogs, turtles and Monarch butterflies. She enjoyed learning the names of plants and birds.
Her family says she relished meeting new people and had great respect for other cultures and customs. She had a passion for peace and a commitment to helping those living with mental illness.
In her youth, she enjoyed hiking, playing tennis and swimming. Recently she began diligently reading books, like Lester Brown's 'Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble.' Another of her favorite pastimes was to join aquathenics three mornings a week at the University Retirement Community's outdoor swimming pool in Davis.
A loving wife, mother, daughter and sister to two brothers, Pat Williams is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Dennis Fossdahl of Davis; her older brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Claire Moore of Palo Alto; her sister-in-law, Jayne Giffin and her husband Al of Ludlow, Wash., and Bend, Ore.; four nieces and 11 nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, James H. and Magdalena Moore; her husband, William 'Bill' A. Williams; her sons, David Williams in 1981 and Andy Williams in 1999; and her brother, Kenneth Moore in 1998.
Family and friends are invited to a viewing from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Wiscombe Funeral Home, 116 D St. A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. Friday at Davis Community Church, 412 C St., followed by the burial at 1 p.m. at the Davis Cemetery, 820 Pole Line Road. All are welcome to a reception from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Davis Community Church Fellowship Hall, 421 D St.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Pine Tree Gardens/Turning Point, P.O. Box 988, Davis, CA 95617.