Connie Williams, 72, a community activist who worked with children and police to keep her East Camden neighborhood safe, died early Saturday, May 18, of lung cancer.
Ms. Williams ran after-school and summer crime-prevention programs in an effort to keep children active and away from drugs. For the last decade, she had been president of the East Side Civic Association in Camden.
"It's a sad day for the city," Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson said. "Miss Connie was a mother hen to the children of East Camden."
Thomson called Ms. Williams a "fierce combatant" against drug dealers who went near the park built by her late brother, Ralph. "She would not give up an inch of ground," he said.
Ms. Williams had the chief's cellphone number - an effective law enforcement tactic. "That's how we stayed ahead of issues," Thomson said.
One of seven children, Connie Williams was born and raised in East Camden. She attended Woodrow Wilson High and later worked as a clerk for the school board, said her sister, the Rev. Georgiamae Smith.
Ms. Williams battled illness for 18 years, her sister said. When she could no longer work, she turned her attention to activism.
"I just believe that's what God called her for," Smith said. "She was always willing to help anyone that ever crossed her path."
Ms. Williams guarded 20 blocks, tending to the park and working a "considerable amount of time to fight crime," said Angel Osorio, chief executive of the District Council Collaborative Board, a community organization.
Even as she lay dying, Ms. Williams discussed what still needed to be done, including the establishment of a senior center, Osorio said.
In addition to her sister, Ms. Williams is survived by her son, Aaron Franklin Williams, and a brother.
A viewing is tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 24, at Hosanna A.M.E. Church, Smith said. Her funeral will be held Saturday, May 25, at St. John Baptist Church in Camden.
at 856-779-3846, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AndrewSeidman on Twitter.