Grayling woman soaring as Eagles Auxiliary State Madam president
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A Grayling woman is putting the community on the map through her leadership for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles.
Judy Williamson was elected to serve as the Auxiliary State Madam President for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles at its state convention held in Midland on June 17.
Williamson joined the Grayling Fraternal Order of the Eagles Auxiliary #3465 in 1995. She has served three terms as the local madam president.
In order to become Auxiliary State Madam President, Williamson joined the state officers in 2007. She moved her way up through the ranks over the last 10 years, serving as the state president-elect last year.
The largest benefit of being Auxiliary State Madam President is that Williamson selected a charity to receive funds. Every Fraternal Order of the Eagles Auxiliary Aerie and Auxiliary in the state will raise funds for that charity throughout her one-year term.
Williamson kept a promise, choosing the Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City as her charity.
“Located on the campus at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City... the center offers life-affirming health and wellness services that treat the whole body and mind to promote physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing,” according to Munson Healthcare. “Cancer experts collaborate to provide a clear treatment plan so patients always know what to expect. Throughout diagnosis and treatment, patients are guided by navigators who ensure everything is in place and all questions are answered.”
“Specialty and multidisciplinary clinics are held for breast, prostate and lung cancers, as well as expanded research and clinical trials, and cancer genetics clinics,” according to Munson Healthcare.
Williamson’s husband, Dennis, was treated in Traverse City for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His oncologist was Dr. David S. Gordon.
“He was instrumental in raising money for the family cancer center and getting it up and running,” Williamson said. “It’s a beautiful place.”
Last year, over $80,000 was raised for the University of Michigan Depression Center for the Auxiliary State Madam President.
Williamson said the fight against cancer, as well as having a charity to support up north, factored into choosing her charity.
“I wanted something to be for us up here,” Williamson said. “It’s just close to my heart. I’m hoping we will do well and raise a lot of money for this.”
Fundraising T-shirts, which are being sold have the slogan “Eagles Rock – They’re Here to Stay – to Help Make Cancer Go Away.”
Along with supporting local and state charities, Williamson noted the International Fraternal Order of Eagles raised $25 million for a Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa.
“I believe in this organization,” Williamson said. “We do a lot around here locally, plus the Grand Aerie does a lot for their charities.”
The Williamsons lived in Ortonville. Dennis worked for General Motors and Judy was a co-owner in a cleaning business. The couple has seven children and 12 grandchildren.
The Williamson have owned a cabin located near the AuSable River since 1952. The cabin was destroyed in the Stephan Bridge Road wildfire in 1990. The fire swept across 5,916 acres, destroyed 76 homes, 125 other structures, and 37 vehicles.
The natural disaster prompted the Williamsons to relocate to Grayling after they replaced the cabin with a home.
“It was just a little, tiny cabin, so after the fire we rebuilt and kind of reconsidered it,” Judy said.
Dennis first became involved with the Grayling Eagles Club and served three terms as president.
“We were both retired and we thought we would be able to volunteer more, but we did not realize we were going to get pushed right in and be officers,” Judy said.
Judy acknowledged that she experienced some culture shock after moving from an urban setting to Crawford County. That has changed over the years, especially through her involvement in the community.
“I love it now,” she said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
On July 17 through July 20, Williamson will represent the state at the 2017 Fraternal Order of Eagles International Convention in Grand Rapids.
“I get to carry in the Michigan flag, which I’m very excited about,” Judy said.