With all of the crowds, presentations, activities, and book signings going on at the Oklahoma Book Festival on October 20, you may have missed our signs saluting Ida Sutton Williams. Ida’s daughter Laurie Williams was a major sponsor of the festival, and it was her desire to honor her mother, who once dreamed that Oklahoma would have its very own book festival. Below, see the photos and the biography from the signs outside the festival’s Headliner Tent and Entertainment Zone.
The Oklahoma Book Festival’s Headliner Tent and Entertainment Zone are named in honor of Ida Sutton Williams, former member and board chair of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Williams was an enthusiastic advocate of libraries and reading, and a tireless civic and cultural leader in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Selected as “Outstanding Girl” by the 1950 graduating class at Ardmore High School, Williams left Oklahoma to pursue her education at Smith College in North Hampton, Massachusetts, where she graduated in 1954 with a degree in education and religious studies. She also attended classes at the University of Oklahoma, where she was initiated into the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Following her marriage to James W. Williams, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she attended graduate school at George Washington University.
Williams returned to Ardmore, with her beloved husband Jim and their bright, humorous daughter Laurie, where she followed her lifetime passions of community service, philanthropy, and politics. Known affectionately as “Ida Red” by those closest to her, she was truly a “Renaissance Woman.”
Williams reflected later in life that she realized as a young person the importance of the honor system; to read and listen to a variety of thoughts, opinions, and positions; to see, study, and meditate to find answers; to use a direct source if possible such as Plato or The Federalist Papers, rather than a secondhand or textbook opinion; and to question, to think for yourself, and to have the courage to rely upon your own opinions. She also understood the importance of interdisciplinary studies, stating “what a person learns from history can be applied to art, government, ethics, science, etc.—for in human life there is an interconnectedness among all things.”
The Ida Sutton Williams Headliner Tent and Entertainment Zone honor the many local library boards and friends groups, city and county officials, and civic leaders who understand that libraries make a profound and lasting impact on the life of the individual as well as communities.