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Barbara LaFrance Cooke Williams

Born on 6-23-1940. She was born in Anniston, AL. She was accomplished in the area of Education. She later died on 11-5-2020.
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Barbara LaFrance Cooke Williams was born on June 23, 1940 in Anniston, Alabama. The daughter of Grady and Anna Mae (Green) Cooke. Her bright and bubbly personality caused her to be known as "Cookie; Sunshine on two legs. As part of the historic "Great Migration," the Cooke family arrived in Niagara Falls, New York, in 1943. It was there that Barbara became a pillar in the community and left her signature imprinted "Red Lipstick" on the face of Niagara Falls.

Barbara attended local schools and graduated from Niagara Falls High School in 1958. Along with her sister, Eleanor Cooke Peterson, Barbara became the first African American cheerleader for Niagara Falls High School. After graduation, Barbara attended Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education in 1963. She also attended the State University of NY at Buffalo where she received her Masters of Science Degree in Elementary Education. Barbara would spend the next 35 years as a Teacher, in the City of Niagara Falls School District.

On August 13th, 1966, Barbara wed Frank L. Williams, who she met at Morris Brown College. The wedding was the largest African American wedding in the city of Niagara Falls' history, which drew over 500 attendees, and made the local newspapers. Their loving union bore two amazing daughters, Jacinta and Gradycia Williams both of Niagara Falls, New York, and lasted for 54 years, only separating at her death on November 5, 2020.

Barbara was a role model to everyone in her path as she was always elegant, beautiful, confident and walked with a self-assured strut that would make the grandest peacock stare in awe. She would greet everyone with a warm "Hey!" and never met a stranger. She was a vivacious ray of sun whose light entered the room as she did and lingered long after she was long gone.

Barbara dedicated her time and attention not only to her family and students, but to the community at large. She was an active and faithful member of St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Niagara Falls, New York, for 72 years.

Historically, Barbara was also the first African American appointed to the Board of Trustees at Niagara County Community College in 1978 and was elected the first African American Board Chair. She held memberships in a variety of volunteer service and social clubs including: The Niagara Falls (NY) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Niagara Christian Women, was a Lifetime member of the NAACP and Zonta International. In addition to all of Barbara's affiliations she was an avid worldwide traveler, traveling to every state in the United States of America, Europe, South America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

A God-fearing woman, her life was well lived, according to His word.