“I loved getting the kids across the road safely, and that most of the drivers and truckers were courteous and patient with me.”
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Estella Williams
Credit: Courtesy of Estella Williams

You won't find anyone with a harder work ethic than Estella Williams of Anderson, South Carolina. After three decades cleaning Michelin Tire facilities, she picked up work at the age of 69 as a school crossing guard. The gig was meant to be a short-term favor to her son-in-law. Twenty-five years later, she's achieved legend status after officially retiring from her post at the spry age of 95. 

Williams, who has 18 children, 55 grandchildren, 84 great-grandchildren, and 17 great-great-grandchildren, is used to being everyone's grandma. So, keeping thousands of kids safe as they made their way to and from Westside High School each day was a natural fit. 

"I loved getting the kids across the road safely, and that most of the drivers and truckers were courteous and patient with me," Williams told Southern Living when asked what she loved most about her job. 

Over the years, Williams became a staple in the Anderson community. Students knew and loved her, as did parents, bus drivers, and other members of the community. 

"Some of the parents would stop and hand me a breakfast sandwich and wish me a happy day," she said. "Some people would stop even if they didn't have children going to Westside. They stopped to give me a thank you card with money, just saying thank you for what you do."

On Tuesday, the city of Anderson recognized Williams for her lifetime of extraordinary service to the community in a special ceremony. Williams shared photos of the event, as well as a message thanking her community members, on Facebook saying, "You all made my job a little easier and I will miss you all very much!!"

Now that she's hung up her vest for the last time, Williams said she is looking forward to traveling and visiting more often with her children and grandchildren. But just because she won't be directing school traffic each morning and afternoon, doesn't mean Williams plans to slow down anytime soon.

In her newfound "free" time, Williams plans to continue her volunteer work with Meals on Wheel, veteran organization VFW, AARP, the Fabulous Women's Club of Anderson, and her church Mt. Herman Baptist Church. She said she'll also continue working as a parking attendant at Clemson home football games. 

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"I have received much love, support, and respect from the traffic and the community over the years," she said. "This alone made it worthwhile to show up for work."

Congratulations on your retirement, Ms. Williams! It is certainly well-earned!