My Poppy – Lee D. Williams

I was born and raised in the middle of the Texas Panhandle. Borger, a small town 49 miles due north of Amarillo, is my birthplace. Some of my fondest memories are of spending time with my grandfather, Lee D. Williams (after whom I am named), in his corner Pharmacy.  I loved watching him work, and I later came to appreciate him as my hero and model of the power of resilience and determination.  

Lee D., or Poppy to me, grew up in abject poverty on cotton farms in Oklahoma. He was a World War II Army veteran who suffered a major brain injury (from a Jeep accident – not from battle). Yet, he was still required to learn basic skills again – such as how to walk, talk and feed himself.  Poppy fully rehabilitated then enrolled himself in the University of Oklahoma on the GI Bill — without family support or encouragement. He was the first in our family to pursue and achieve a higher education.

After securing his license as a Pharmacist he moved to the Texas Panhandle, where he established himself as a successful business man and a highly respected community leader. I am proud to be his namesake. 

Following my grandfather’s example, I always knew I would go to college. I never doubted I would finish a bachelor’s degree. I never dreamed, however, that I would go to graduate school until I met my husband, Jim.

We met at Texas Tech University in June 1987. He was pursuing a Master of Education in Educational Psychology, and I was taking courses between by sophomore and junior years as an undergraduate. He saw something in me I didn’t yet see in myself, and he has been my greatest supporter ever since.

Jim and I married in Abilene, Texas (his hometown) on May 20, 1989. We chose this date because it was the weekend after I graduated from Texas Tech with my Bachelor’s Degree. I promised myself I would not get married until I finished college. Fourteen years later, our first born, Michael Lee, arrived on January 10, 2004. Rachel Ann was born August 19, 2006.