“Well, hello there!”
With that warm and heartfelt greeting, Marge Williams always had a way of making you feel welcome in the world. It didn’t matter if she’d just talked to you the day before. If you were Marge’s friend – and anyone who wasn’t, simply hadn’t made her acquaintance yet – the longtime island booster was always genuinely glad to see you.
“Hello there!” she would exclaim, two simple words infused with the depth of her sincerity and well-wishes.
Originally from Hawley, Minn., Marjory Wyland Williams moved to Bainbridge Island in 1957 and become a popular fixture in local civic affairs.
She and her husband ran a small gift shop from the downstairs of the building at 221 Winslow Way West. After her husband passed away, she resided in the apartment above the gift shop, retiring in 1989 to community service and occasional travel abroad.
Marge remained a well-known figure around town, and became landlord to the Bainbridge Island Review newspaper when it moved into the downstairs space below her apartment.
She was a tireless community booster with what was then known as Team Winslow, the island’s downtown organization, and put together the town’s first commemorative brick program as a community fundraiser. She was also elected to local office, serving on the Winslow town council from 1984 until all-island incorporation in 1991. She also helped found the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center.
After her tragic death in August 1998, the island community that she had loved and served for so long rallied in her memory. A community fund drive raised more than $400,000 to purchase the Winslow Way building from the Williams estate and renovate it as a home for local nonprofit organizations.
The Marge Williams Center was formally dedicated in 2001, and the Washington State Office of Trade and Economic Development honored the center for Excellence in Downtown Revitalization the following year.
In 2016, to mark the center’s 15th anniversary, the Marge Center completed an extensive renovation with technology and conference room upgrades, a modern and efficient HVAC system, and an 8.9kW rooftop solar array to promote energy self-sufficiency.
The center stands as a lasting tribute to Marge Williams and her many contributions to the Bainbridge Island community.