Mary Lynn Williams – Simpson House

Mary Lynn W.

My apartment here is my safe and happy place.”

The leader of a chair yoga class asked participants to close their eyes and visualize a space where they feel calm and happy and safe. “The place that came into my mind almost unbidden was my apartment here at Simpson House,” says Mary Lynn Williams, who moved to the community in June 2022 after spending two pandemic years with her daughter and son-in-law in Italy.

“My apartment is mine. I answer to no one; I make all the decisions. I close the door and I am safe.”  Says Mary Lynn.

From small town to big city
Mary Lynn was born in a small town in Indiana to a mother who was 45. When Mary Lynn was three, she lost her father. Her mother passed when Mary Lynn was in college, so she transferred from Indiana University to college in Kentucky, where she could live with relatives nearby. While she was there, she earned dual degrees in English and Education. She went on to work in the Teacher Corps program at the University of Kentucky, and that’s how she met her husband.

She and a friend brought students to Philadelphia to observe the school system here. The friend called another friend in town and asked him to take them out to dinner. James Williams declined, but agreed to cook for them instead, so the two young women went to his place.

“I was mentally placing furniture in his house that night,” she recalls. That was in April. By Labor Day, she was living with him. They lived together for five years and then married because she wanted to have a child. “I had started a doctorate here at Temple. I did the coursework, but stopped at dissertation. At the time, it was more important to have a baby.”

Happy memories of family, work and travel
The young family lived in Fairmount until their daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was 7, and then moved to Wynnefield, just five minutes from Simpson House. They had a big house on Woodbine Avenue. “I liked to have dinner parties and have people over. My husband was a good bartender, and I’m a good cook,” Mary Lynn says. “I enjoyed church, talking to people and good conversations around the dinner table.”

Mary Lynn taught at University City High School for 25 years and also taught at Eastern Seminary until as recently as 2019. James was an educator as well, who worked in personnel for the phone company and for GE. He also bought properties, rehabbed them and then rented them out. Their daughter grew up to be a freelance opera singer, and Mary Lynn traveled with her for 15 years, and has visited such destinations as Paris, Italy, Germany, Morocco and Cardiff. “I have a wonderful daughter who makes me very proud,” Mary Lynn says. “The travels were a lot of fun.”

Coming home full circle
Having lived in Wynnefield, Mary Lynn was familiar with Simpson House. “It was always in the back of my mind that I could come here if I needed to,” she notes. She had visited several times and knew friends who lived here and were happy. Plus, it was in her old neighborhood. “It was a safe place, in my mind, even though I didn’t live here yet.”

She believes that a key to aging well is staying involved and adjusting to your current capabilities. She is still a trustee at First Baptist Church in Philadelphia—and she lives in a place where she can be surrounded by good conversations around the table.

Call us today at 215-452-5051 or submit the form below to see for yourself why Mary Lynn Williams and other seniors choose Simpson House for retirement living.

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