The Meade County Messenger, March 29, 2012, Community, B1

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James celebrated his 90th birthday with family and friends in February of 2012.

Messenger Staff

James L. Williams, 90, was born Feb. 28, 1922. He was one of two sons born to Thomas Henry and Maude Adkisson Williams. James, his brother, Carroll Henry Williams and their parents lived in a log house on a 154- acre farm in Ekron. The four- room house was 38 feet long and 30 feet wide. James and his brother helped their father with the corn and tobacco crops as well as the hay and livestock. The Williams were in the poultry business and housed 400-500 chickens at a time. As it was with most housewives at that time, James' mother cared for the family and didn't work outside of the home. Thomas died of complications from a stroke in the 1960's and Maude died at 83 years old from natural causes in 1970. James' brother, Carroll, passed away in 2003.

James attended lst through 8th-grade at Ekron Elementary School, which was a two-room schoolhouse. He was very talented as a child. He could yodel and play the coronet and the "juice harp" He played the coronet, Carroll played the fiddle and W.D. Simmons played the saxophone at Buck Grove Baptist Church.  James' coronet was a little loud, so his dad made a muffler to tone down the sound James graduated from Ekron High School in 1940.

Hannah Louise Shipp was the daughter of preacher William Sanford and Wivie Stith Shipp. The family had moved to Ekron from Owensboro and Hannah attended Ekron High School.   James and Hannah met and courted for 15 months. "She was real pretty and real nice but a little hot-tempered," he recalled. "I thought I'd better grab her before some else did!"

James was 22 years old and Hannah was a 17-year-old senior when he proposed to her. They were married on April 27, 1945, on the day of Hannah's graduation. The young couple moved in with James' parents, along with Carroll and his family. James' and Hannah's first child, James A., was born July 4 1946. Their second child, Dan Thomas, was born a year later, followed by Barry Shipp in 1949. James supported his family by working in the chicken business for his father.

In the early 1950's, Carroll began to build a house on seven acres on the family farm. After deciding to relocate to Louisville, he sold the house to James for $421 a year. James finished building the house and in 1953, he moved his family into it. They raised cattle and pigs and also had a garden. Their first daughter, Paula Sue was born in 1955; Hannah Ruth in 1956; and their last child, Tony Samuel in 1958. James began working as a carpenter at National Homes in Brandenburg in 1952 and continued working on the farm in his spare time. During the next 10 years, he acquired more land, making the farm approximately 250 acres.

James met George Kaelin while he was working at National Homes. The two became steadfast friends. James later worked at Radcliff Plumbing and Heating in 1957. He got George a job working with him at the Radcliff company and the two men worked there for 12 years. After leaving there, James and George went into the carpentry business together. For 20 years, "Williams and Kaelin" remodeled and built houses in Meade County. In 1975, James retired and in 2002, his dear friend George passed away.

On July 21, 2005, James came into the kitchen to find Hannah slumped over in her chair. She had suffered a major stroke. He called an ambulance and Hannah was transported to Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown. On June 25, 2005, 76-year-old Hannah died as a result of the stroke. She and James had been married for 60 years.

"She was a good mother and a good person," said her daughter, Paula. "She was a good cook and a religious and honest person. We had such a good time as children. We played in the woods all day long. We had very good parents. After the hay was put away, they would always take us to Irvington for ice cream." After her mother's death, Paula moved in with James to care for him.

Besides his six children James has 10 grandchildren ant six great-grandchildren. He has been a member of Buck Grove Baptist Church since he was  approximately 5 years old and at one time served as a deacon as an adult. He also provided his expertise in carpentry for the church when needed. He enjoys playing Rook, horseshoes and cornhole. He also enjoys watching University of Kentucky and , University of Louisville basketball games, "The Price is Right," "Wheel of Fortune," "Jeopardy,""Family Feud,' and classic westerns.

James' favorite pastime is,  "Loafing with the guys at McDonald's. See who can tell the biggest lie!" he said with a grin. The "guys" include Woody   Melton, Bill Shumate, Rice Dugan, Leland Pike, "Tick" Keys,  Melton Lawson, Chester Medley and Bill Jupin.

James still lives in the home he and Hannah shared for so many years. He has sold all but , 20 acres of the farm. He under went quadruple bypass surgery s in 1997 and has complications from COPD, but is otherwise happy and healthy.

When asked what the secret to his longevity is, James said, "God took care of me and now Paula takes good care of me!"