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Helen Williams, 81; Assistant to Lyndon Johnson

On Nov. 22, 1963, Mrs. Williams and her husband were at the LBJ Ranch preparing for a party in honor of President and Mrs. Kennedy. A few hours after the assassination of the president, a private plane took them to Dallas, where they caught another flight to Washington. Mrs. Williams recalled walking into the White House and fixing coffee for Secret Service agents who had been up all night awaiting the Johnsons' arrival and then making plans for the Johnsons' breakfast. Friends described her as a take-charge kind of person.

Mrs. Williams became a personal assistant to the first lady exclusively. "Helen, a lot of things have changed, but thank God you haven't changed," Mrs. Williams recalled Mrs. Johnson saying.


Helen White Williams and her husband worked for the Johnsons until he left the White House.

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Helen White Williams, the 14th of 15 children, was born in Manor, Tex., a small town east of Austin, and graduated from Austin's Anderson High School. She never went to college, but, as her nephew, Elmer Washington, recalled, "she was smart, she read a lot and she had opinions about everything."

After Johnson left the White House, she worked for the State Department's Medical Affairs Division, which provides medical care for Foreign Service employees.

A former colleague, Terese Thomas, described her as "a whirlwind in terms of work and management. She was a masterful Texas sergeant who knew how to manage everyone at work, and then at night she became this purring kitten who loved to dance."

Her husband died in 1982.

Mrs. Williams, who retired in 1993, remained active with Zion Baptist Church in the District and kept in touch with many of her old friends from the Johnson days.

Survivors include two sisters.


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