Happy, happy birthday to longtime Oak Forest resident Sylvia Williamson, who observed her 90th birthday on Oct. 19.
Two weekends ago, she celebrated this special occasion with her son Steve and his wife Cathy, granddaughter Karen and her friend Scott, grandson Greg and his wife Rachel and the two great grandchildren Stephen and Claire. Former neighbors and good friends, Vicki and Joe Guidry, send their love and birthday greetings from Blanco, Texas, and said, “We hope you have a wonderful day and may God’s blessings be upon you today and always!”
Sylvia has been a resident of Oak Forest since June of 1950. She and her husband, Joe, were expecting their only child when they moved in and Steve was born about a month later. The couple bought their home, which was less than a year old, from friends for just $100 down! At that time Oak Forest was on the extreme northwest side of Houston. Everybody thought they were moving so far away. Although named Oak Forest, the subdivision had more pine trees than oak.
Sylvia has seen and experienced many changes that 69 years have brought to this subdivision.
She immediately became friends with her neighbors and continues that tradition today. The swing in the front yard provides a meeting place for friends and neighbors on National Night Out, Halloween and friendly chats any time of the day.
Both Sylvia and Joe were members of Oaks Presbyterian Church. They served as elders, groundskeepers, choir members, attended Sunday school and were youth leaders for teens. In fact, their son was married in this church.
Sylvia and Joe supported the Oaks Dads Club, where Steve played baseball and football. It has definitely grown since the days of one field and a snack bar.
The large lots in Oak Forest provided room for a large garden in their backyard. While Sylvia and Joe both had “green thumbs,” it was Sylvia’s kitchen talents that cooked, canned, froze and served delicious homegrown food all year long! She often shared the bounty from their garden with her neighbors.
Sylvia is a bird watcher. Purple martins, owls and hummingbirds were commonplace in her backyard. While Oak Forest became fully enveloped by the big city, Sylvia’s family bought some weekend property to enjoy the woods and nature of the Hidden Forest subdivision in Montgomery County. There Sylvia expanded her knowledge of birds to include the rare pileated woodpeckers and more. They bought land alongside some of their Oak Forest neighbors. Working together, exploring nature together and eating together tightened the bonds of their friendship.
She has seen tornadoes and hurricanes firsthand here in Oak Forest. After devastating storms, the Williamsons and their neighbors worked together clearing downed trees and rescuing a neighbor trapped in her bedroom. The bayou and several streets flooded often before drainage improvements concreted most of the bayou and parklands were built. She and Joe loved nature and would take their dog to walk along the pool and park areas almost daily.
When Sylvia and Joe decided to take dance lessons, they didn’t know that would lead them from the Cotton Eyed Joe to ballroom dancing! Many of their dance friends were also Oak Forest residents.
The pine trees have slowly been giving way to the oaks. The once-new homes have seen families with small children transition through teenage years to senior living. The neighborhood is experiencing a Renaissance period in which many of the old homes have been torn down and replaced with larger homes that Sylvia calls McMansions! These will also go through changes with the years.
Sylvia is a treasure to family and friends, still developing new friendships and experiencing the changes in our community right alongside her neighbors.