Dr. Mary Ann Williams

August 15, 1939 - March 26, 2024

Dr. Mary Ann Rushing Williams was born on August 15th, 1939, in Carbondale, Illinois, to William David Rushing and Amy Lewis Campbell.

Mary Ann had an incredible passion for education. She served as valedictorian of her high school class at University School Southern Illinois. She earned her bachelor's degree from Southern Mississippi State College, followed by a master's degree from Southeast Missouri State University. Culminating in her doctorate in Educational Psychology from Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah.

Mary Ann met and married her husband, Edward R. Williams in 1957. They shared an immediate connection and chose to elope 2 months after meeting. They maintained a loving relationship for 64 years. Throughout Edward’s military career, Mary Ann faithfully supported him. Together they moved 27 times. Upon completion of his tour in Vietnam, his squadron was relocated to Utah where he became a helicopter Flight Instructor Pilot at Hill Air Force Base. On February 14, 1974, the family moved to Ogden, Utah to begin establishing their home.

Mary Ann’s heart and passion for other’s led her to develop programs throughout the State of Utah for children with special needs. She was a visionary in creating diagnostic systems to place and give resources and hope to students and their families that were not being identified or addressed by the current schooling system at the time. Her empathy, compassion, flexibility and talents changed the lives of many students and the landscape of special education services in Utah. She influenced programs in all states throughout the country. Many of her impacts can still be seen today. 

She was an advocate for all students and was vocal in expressing the reform that was required to happen for children to obtain educational support that was tailored to each of their individualized needs. She had a knack for identifying a problem and the steps necessary to reaching the desired goal for the students. 

In 1974 a federal law was passed that required all schools to provide education for students with disabilities. She was a pioneer and innovator that provided the services and training for districts to be in compliance with federal law. Through her opportunities for instruction Mary Ann was blessed to be surrounded by colleges that shared and worked hard to bring to fruition their vision of a better future for students with special needs. She was often heard saying amongst her team “There is work to be done, so let’s do it.” 

She was hired at Weber State University as a professor instructing students to become special education teachers, while also documenting state-wide standards and accreditation policies. At the Utah State Office of Education, she developed accountability programs, and served as a mentor for directors of special education throughout the country. She dedicated her career to championing the rights of children and youth facing disabilities and adversity, and contributed her time to various organizations such as PEO International, Girl Scouts, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Utah Foster Care. 

In addition to her many professional accomplishments, Mary Ann was an active member within the Episcopalian Church. She served in various positions; participating in choir, teaching children, assisting with English programs for refugees, and organizing the Christmas pageant for the children, ensuring that everyone had a part to play and a costume. Her musical talent, particularly her mastery of the organ, brought joy to those around her.

Mary Ann enjoyed hiking, skiing, reading, and generously creating beautiful dollhouses which she donated annually to the Festival of Trees, benefiting Primary Children’s Hospital.

Mary Ann loved her family. As a mother, with her career that required so much from her, she often sacrificed time at home with her husband and children, but they all grew to know that they could go to her for support and she was their most trusted confidant. As a grandmother she shone and cherished her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She excelled as a grandmother; playing piano to entertain and being her silly, goofy self to get laughs. As her grandchildren grew older she shared wisdom and helped them discover their passions and directions in life. Specially for her granddaughters, she loved taking them to high tea and buying them their first pair of outrageous high heals. She purchased legos and chevrons collectable cars for her grandsons to play with at her house. She was often rolling on the ground, playing just as hard as the kids. She loved all holidays but especially the fourth of July. She so enjoyed the spectacle of pagodas, parachute men, and epic tank battles and aircraft carriers firing munitions across the pool. Her family could always depend on her to organize the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Her and Edward found fulfillment in being surrounded by their family and friends. They built and lived a beautiful life together dedicated to the service of others. 

Mary Ann Rushing Williams passed away peacefully in her home on March 26th, 2024. She is proceeded in death by her parents; beloved husband, Edward Williams; and granddaughter Jacklynn Wilson.

She is survived by her brother, John (JoAnn) Rushing; two sons and two daughters; David (Wanda) Williams, Megan (Gary) Boles, Amy (Will) Wilson, and Douglas (Marianne) Williams. Also her grandchildren Becky Thomas, Bree (Rob) McMullan, Mary (Steve) Siler, David Williams, Andrew (Liana) Williams, Zach Williams, Vanessa (Semeon) Krits, Ashley Ruesch, Beth (Mike) Clark, Annie (Kevin) Clyde, Rachael Wilson, William (Maria) Wilson, and Jacob (Kade) Wilson. Mary Ann also has twenty-six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be on Thursday April 4th at 11:00 a.m. at St. James Episcopal Church, 7486 South Union Park Avenue, Midvale, Utah.

The family wishes to express gratitude to Sa Saadi, Vardan “Dan” Nadkarni, and LaVon Marshall, for the supreme care and love they gave to Mary Ann. They loved and were loved by Mary Ann like family. 

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Mary Ann’s name to one of the following organizations that she held near and dear to her heart. 


The Granite Education Foundation 


The Childrens Center 


The Ute Indian Tribe Education Department