Constance E. Williams, 79, president of the Fitler Square Improvement Association in the 1980s and 1990s and a longtime resident of that Philadelphia neighborhood, died of a ruptured organ Saturday, Dec. 6, at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md.
For the last two years, the South Jersey native had lived at the Watermark at Logan Square retirement community before recently moving to Annapolis.
"She was very significant" to Fitler Square, Lenore Millhollen, who has been a board member of the association since the 1960s, said in a phone interview.
"She kept her eye on our square all the time, right out of her front windows. She was very devoted to that square."
The city-owned Fitler Square is bounded by 23d, 24th, Panama, and Pine Streets.
"We never stopped improving the square," Millhollen said, recalling, for instance, that she and Miss Williams had visited the studio of the sculptor who was working on the stone turtle that has become a landmark of the place.
"The kids love to play on it," she said.
In a 1986 Inquirer interview, Miss Williams said that when she moved to the neighborhood in 1965, the square was rundown and overgrown.
"The association changed the whole concept," she said, "by trimming back the shrubs to create an open park, and making it more secure.
"When I first moved here, there were almost no kids to be seen. Now after 3 p.m. you're hard-pressed to find anyone who is not a kid."
Born in Camden, Miss Williams grew up in Moorestown and graduated from Moorestown High School, where she was a cheerleader, and attended what is now Centenary College in Hackettstown.
She became an administrative assistant to A.F. "Bud" Dudley, owner and president of the minor-league ice hockey team the Philadelphia Ramblers, her stepbrother, Page Simpson, said.
The Ramblers played in the Eastern Hockey League from 1955 to 1964, at the Philadelphia Arena on Market Street at 45th Street, according to the website www.funwhileitlasted.net.
At one point, Dudley, a former athletic director at Villanova University, appointed her to be general manager of the team, her stepbrother said.
In 1959, Dudley founded the Liberty Bowl football game, which was played in Philadelphia from 1959 to 1963 and in Atlantic City in 1964 before moving to Memphis in 1965.
Miss Williams was acting secretary for the bowl game for several years, even after its move to Tennessee, her stepbrother said, but she visited there only to help arrange the event.
The current version of the bowl game is scheduled there for Monday, Dec. 29.
After her work with Dudley, Miss Williams worked for several years at the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia, her stepbrother said.
She was a member of the vestry at Trinity Episcopal Church in Center City before becoming a member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church there.
Besides her stepbrother, she is survived by a brother, Craig; a sister, Tama Williams; stepbrother Meade Fasciano; and stepsister Martha Jean Wampler.
A later memorial service is planned.
Donations may be sent to a charity of one's choice.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.kalasfuneralhomes.com.com.