Elinor Latham Williams

01/04/2018 10:07 AM |

On Jan. 1, 2018, Elinor Latham Williams passed away at the age of 97 at her home in Orient. She was born on Latham Farm in Orient, Aug. 14, 1920, the daughter of Daniel Terry Latham and Grace Evelyn Young. She is the last of their four children. Her siblings were Katharine Leslie, Blanche Clingen and Edward Latham.

Her husband Ralph O. Williams died May 30, 2002; they were married for 40 years.

She is survived by a daughter and son, three stepsons, one stepdaughter, 13 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Elinor was raised on the Latham Farm in Orient graduating as salutatorian from Greenport High School, before attending secretarial school in New York City. She married Col. John B. Bristow USMC Ret. in 1942 and they had three children, the eldest passing away on Sept. 11, 2001. Elinor married Ralph O. Williams in 1962, receiving five additional children with the ring.

Elinor lived in Santa Barbara, Calif. for many years where her three children finished their education. After marrying Ralph, the two moved to King of Prussia, Pa. for Ralph’s job.

Elinor had several jobs, using her secretarial skills to their fullest, her longest being with General Electric both in Santa Barbara and in King of Prussia.

Elinor was never idle. She took adult education classes in upholstery, belonged to the Natural History Museum in Santa Barbara and was a member of their bird group which went on trips to bird watch several times a year. She also took her kids camping in Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Sequoia National Park and Richardson Grove State Park. She could cook some amazing meals on a campfire: homemade scones and eggs for breakfast, and later apple crisp for desert. There were also the day trips to Figueroa Mountain for pine cones, mistletoe and greens for Christmas.

In 1979 Elinor and Ralph purchased what is now known as The Terry Mulford House and after Ralph retired moved permanently to Orient. They spent the next ten plus years restoring the house to its current beauty. The house and its attached Voice of the Twenties Museum have been open for tours by appointment and there have been many appointments.

Along with the restoration of the house and grounds, Elinor also got extremely interested in the history of those who had preceded her as tenants of this historical building. From there she dove into genealogy researching not only her own family, but many of the families which had become the backbone of Orient.

Elinor started working at the Oysterponds Historical Society in 1980s and was instrumental in upgrading its archival storage and record keeping. She was the president of the board of directors in the 1980s and was still visited by people needing information about Orient and the history of its residents.

Elinor served until her death as a director of the Orient Village Cemetery. As her health declined in recent years all meetings were held in her parlor as her wisdom was sought by all directors and her force of will saved some the older stones from the dump when a speeding car on Route 25 crashed into the cemetery causing widespread devastation of many headstones.

When people talk about Elinor, they always have a story about one of her two loves: gardening and cooking. She loved to garden and being a farm girl at heart, usually included a vegetable garden whenever possible. At The Terry Mulford House, she only grew blueberries and asparagus along with her flowers and shrubs and if you have seen that garden, you have really enjoyed beauty. But the kitchen, now that was her domain. She excelled at breakfast with crumb cake, waffles, or blueberry muffins; at lunch with out-of-this-world salads (or for a real treat, fresh peach shortcake), and those dinners….no words can really do them justice. As a young mother she read extensively on nutrition and tried to make all her meals balanced and healthy. The best part though was desert like deep-dish apple pie. She lived in China with her first husband for several years and learned a lot about how to make Chinese food. Her lavish Chinese dinners were famous wherever she lived. She always tried to pass on her love to her children, grandchildren and to anyone who wanted to learn.

Elinor, Mom, Gramma, GG …… we will miss her whatever she was called.

DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold is assisting the family.

This is a paid notice.

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