Tom and Andrea Sue Williams, who met in Hoover House, as OHIO seniors in 1982.
Photo courtesy of: Tom Williams
Jan 30, 2012
Tragedy. That is the only word for the death of 48-year-old Andrea Williams, a 1983 math graduate of the Honors Tutorial College (HTC).
The cancer was unexpected and quick. After playing a soccer game, Andrea complained of abdominal pain. She went to the doctor, who subsequently found a grapefruit-sized lump on her uterus. She died eight months later on July 22, 2009.
Her death came just one month before her 25th wedding anniversary to her college sweetheart, Tom Williams, who started out studying physics in the HTC before switching to computer science.
Two years after her death in 2011, Tom Williams started an HTC scholarship in her name. The Andrea Delmage Williams Scholarship, which will go into effect next year, is a stipend awarded to the top freshman female math major. If there are no eligible females in a given academic year, the money will go to the top male math major.
"[Andrea] always thought that the HTC — and the experience here at Ohio University — was one of the best points of her life," he said. "We used to come back and visit and go to football games, and I figured it was an appropriate way to honor her."
Memories of her time at HTC
The couple met through an HTC connection: they were both residents of Hoover Hall. During the 1970s and 1980s, all HTC students lived on South Green in the hall, nicknamed Hoover House. Both Tom and Andrea Williams lived there all four years of college.
"She made most of her closest friends here," he said. "Our daughter is named after a roommate she had at Hoover House."
Kathleen, their daughter, now attends Ohio University's sculpture three-year Master's of Fine Arts graduate program. She is named after Kathleen "Kitty" Suhovecky, who married fellow HTC math graduate Mark Suhovecky. The Suhoveckys were both in the Williams' wedding.
"OU and HTC were a really important part of all of our lives," Mark Williams said. "It's where we all met our friends and our spouses."
In fact, Mark Suhovecky admitted, he met his wife, Kitty, through Andrea Williams. By often working on math with Andrea Williams, he ended up falling for her roommate.
When asked to recall his favorite Ohio University memories with Andrea Williams, her husband's eyes seem to glaze over as he enters another time, and he sits in silence for several minutes, hand to his long, white beard.
"I remember the first time I saw her in a dress was at the Hoover Hall Italian Dinner Dance in the basement of Nelson," he said. "That was the first fall dance, and all of us went as a group. We weren't dating at that time, but it made an impression on me."
He laughed softly and described their courtship. Friends for a year, they dated through college and were married the fall after they both graduated. When asked about his wife in college, Williams described her involvement in intramural sports from basketball to soccer to broomball, and how she tutored in math. She even tried out ROTC during her freshman year, but dropped it.
"Symbolic logic was her favorite area, and she always said she wanted to go back to school to study that," he said. "She was working on her master's in computer science when my daughter was born in 1989, and she never got back to it."
Life after college
When Andrea Williams, Tom Williams and Mark Suhovecky graduated, they all went to work for Alcatel-Lucent, which later became AT&T, in Columbus. But Andrea did not settle for a job as a software systems engineer; she took up fiber art and knitting. Tom began glassblowing, and the two were an indelibly creative pair.
"They say people are right-brained or left-brained, but not Andrea…she could do everything," Mark Suhovecky said.
The deeper she got into knitting the more she found herself drawn to making the yarn and dye herself. She grew plants for dye, and the couple bought llamas and alpacas to make wool. Making a name in the industry, she became the first certified llama fleece judge in Ohio and a member of the Alpaca Llama Show Association.
"We used to say if society ever falls, we've got to go over [to the Williams' house]," Mark Williams said, joking about the couple's self-sufficiency. "When she did something, she did it all the way."
She never lost her love for sports, either, and played soccer until her diagnosis. Another diagnosis she dealt with was adult-onset diabetes after she graduated from college.
"Andrea just sort of dealt with it. That's what I always remember," Mark Williams said. "I don't remember her saying 'Oh, why me,' she just dealt with it. That was just who she was."