Life Story / Obituary
Denise Arden (née McGinnis) Williams passed away on November 24, 2020, after a long and courageous struggle with cancer. She is preceded in death by her daughter Donna, and survived by her daughters Deb Williams and Dana (Stephan) Hokanson, her beloved grandchildren, Patty (Aaron) Jones, Adam, Lane, Quinn, and three beautiful great-grandchildren; Parson, Wyatt, and Hanna as well as several cousins, nieces and nephews.
Denise was born April 10, 1938 in the close-knit community of Chicora, PA, where everyone lives “up the hill, down the hill, or around the bend.” The daughter of a school teacher who deeply valued education, Denise’s studies prepared her for work as an X-Ray technician and she worked in the medical field for many years. She married Richard Williams of nearby Butler, and the two were married in August of 1960. The couple soon became a family, welcoming a daughter Donna and soon after, Debra, forever known as “Deb.” A few years later, Dana was born, and the Williams family was complete.
Denise and her young family moved to Ohio and then to Michigan. They settled in Union Lake, where new neighbors became lifelong friends. Denise was an active and proud parent of her three daughters and could often be seen in the bleachers cheering on Deb’s softball games or in the auditorium applauding Donna and Dana’s performances. In Union Lake, Denise was a strong supporter and frequent volunteer to the fraternal Masonic organization, Job’s Daughters, where her warmth and humor made her beloved among both parents and young people.
After raising her daughters, Denise returned to Chicora to live with and care for her mother, Beulah. There, she once more became a well-known and involved member of the community. Despite being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as a lifelong musician, Denise gave piano lessons to generations of Chicora’s young people, and nothing gave her greater joy than seeing her students perform at a recital, pageant, or musical production. A devoted Lutheran, Denise served for years in the music ministry of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, where she shared her gifts as a pianist and choir member.
In 2017, Denise left Chicora again, moving to Holland, Michigan, to be closer to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who brought “GG” enormous joy. Denise immediately embraced the city of Holland and the community of Appledorn East as her home. There, as always, she made countless new friends and continued sharing musical gifts with the kitchen band and more.
Shortly after moving to Michigan, Denise was diagnosed with cancer, a disease that she faced for years with equal parts of courage, grace, determination, and good humor. On November 24, 2020, Denise passed away as she had lived: strong in her faith, surrounded by those she loved, and with a song both on her lips and in her heart.
Denise will always be remembered for her sense of humor, her sharp wit, and her ability to trounce family members in board games. Her passion for crosswords, music, and her family will be cherished. Her favorite catchphrase was, "it is what it is" but she always made "it" full of love and laughter with her eternally hopeful and optimistic spirit. She will be dearly missed.
A memorial service for Denise will be held in Chicora, PA in the spring (or whenever the pandemic allows.) In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for your prayers and memorial donations to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church 2217 Chicora Rd, Chicora, PA 16025.