On Water and Land, Willie Williams III Spreads Joy

Willie Williams III, Mercy Housing Southeast Maintenance Manager, loves to fish. To say it is the thing that makes him most happy and provides him with peace of mind would not be an overstatement.

“I don’t even have to catch anything,” he recently shared, adding “Just sitting by the water is so calming and I’ll just be in my little world.”

Willie has been with Mercy Housing Southeast for six years. While his job title may be Maintenance Manager, his positive attitude and presence have impacted this senior community since day one. “I love it here,” he said. “I love working with seniors. I look at the men and think about my father, Uncle, and Grandfather,” he continued. “And the women, I look at them like my mother and grandmother – I try my best to do anything for them.”

Truth be told, The Atrium residents are like family to Willie. And residents have embraced him. He has become a trusted friend.

“Those relationships are so special and can’t be replicated,” he shared.

Building Camaraderie on and off the Water

Willie with The Atrium resident, 104-year-old, Ms. Dorman

Fishing often involves bonding with friends or family. For Willie, whether he’s on a lake fishing or at The Atrium working, building relationships has enriched his life beyond his achievements.

For example, The Atrium resident Ms. Mary Dorman is 104 years old. “I treat every resident the same, except for her,” Willie explained, adding, “I give her flowers. She gets top priority because of her age.”

Willie shared a story about Ms. Dorman. “One day, she accidentally pushed the life alert button but didn’t know she did it. Meanwhile, the fire department came and said they would kick the door in if she didn’t answer.”

Willie decided he would race up the stairs and along with the fire department, entered Ms. Dorman’s apartment when she didn’t answer the door. “I’m huffing and puffing, looking around, but don’t see her,” he reflected. “It turns out she was visiting a friend in a different apartment – we found them just talking a couple of floors down.”

He notes that she may be 104, but Ms. Dorman is still “as sharp as a tack.”

His favorite thing when interacting with the senior residents? “Just laughing with them every day.”

Ms. Dorman Thrives at The Atrium 

Willie’s Famous Fish Fry

Willie has also become known for his community fish fry. “They like tilapia, whiting, and catfish,” he said. “I bring my speakers and play music, and everyone dances. Anything I can do to make them happy. And bring them joy.”

He pays for this highly anticipated fish fry out of his pocket. Not because he must but because he wants to. “These are their golden years.”

Waves of Wisdom

In addition to being The Atrium’s Maintenance Manager and a best friend to residents, Willie is a husband, father, and grandfather. He tries not to take his work home, but on the days, he does, he doesn’t talk about it because family time is family time.

His granddaughter will turn two years old in October and has Willie tightly wrapped around her finger.

“I can’t wait to take her fishing with me when she gets a little older,” he said.

People say that there are many life lessons that fishing can teach us. Patience, persistence, adapting to changing conditions, mindfulness, and more. Whether he is addressing a work order from a resident, preparing for an annual site inspection, planning the next community fish fry, or patiently waiting to catch the right fish in the lake, Willie has learned to enjoy the journey.