Former Williamsburg Mayor Marcella F. Mountjoy was a very classy lady.
“Every time I talk about her I use the term classy. I can’t think of anything else better than that. She just exuded it. That is in the classroom as a teacher, as a city councilmember, especially as a mayor,” said Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison.
“Everything she did, she did with the interest of the school or the town. She was just a special person.”
Mountjoy, 95, passed away on New Year’s Eve at Williamsburg Health and Rehabilitation Center. Funeral services were held Saturday at First Baptist Church in Williamsburg with Rev. Ande Myers officiating. Interment followed in Highland Cemetery.
Mountjoy was the widow of longtime Williamsburg Superintendent J.B. Mountjoy, who the high school gym is named after, but she certainly didn’t stand in his shadow, and wore many hats during her lifetime.
She was a piano instructor at Cumberland College for 10 years, and was a science teacher at Williamsburg High School for 18 years until she retired in 1985.
Harrison noted that he had known Mountjoy since at least the mid-1970s when he had her in high school as a teacher.
Marcella Mountjoy was appointed to the Williamsburg City Council in 1986, and was elected to it in 1987. In 1989 she was elected mayor, which is a role she served in from 1990-1993.
Mountjoy said during a 2018 interview for the dedication of the Wall of Mayors at Williamsburg City Hall that she loved being mayor, but never dreamed of being mayor when she was going up.
“I enjoyed being your mayor as much as anything that I have ever done. I felt like I was serving our people. I wanted it to be fair and even and kind. All of my dreams happened. I am blessed by having all of you remembering a little bit about when I was mayor,” she added.
The Wall of Mayors is located in the city council meeting room at Williamsburg City Hall, and features pictures of the current and nearly all former mayors in town history.
Marcella Mountjoy has been honored by the city of Williamsburg in prior years in multiple ways.
During the city’s bicentennial celebration in 2018, city officials named the river launch off First Street as the “Mayor Marcella Mountjoy River Launch.”
The river launch sign includes a quote from Mountjoy that states, “People notice beautification. Things don’t just happen; they are made to happen by people who care. I’m proud of us.”
In a 2018 interview, Mountjoy said that she was touched and thankful for the honor.
“This is kind of a dream,” she noted. “Living by the river, I often wondered why we couldn’t just take advantage of it more locally. Places like Lexington now are trying to dig a canal. We have it all here for us … So many other people don’t have what we have.”
Harrison added that Williamsburg also has a beautification award named in her honor.
The Marcella Mountjoy Beautification Award was created to give to businesses that make very significant renovations or construction of new buildings downtown.
“We have given it out a couple of times. We haven’t in several years. It is kind of sad in a way she won’t see it, but I would say in the coming year 2020 that we will be giving several out with the revitalization downtown,” Harrison said.
He added that the last time he spoke to Mountjoy in the nursing home, something that really excited her was the fact that the town was being revitalized.
“I think I told her a couple of things at that time we hoped were coming. I think it is appropriate we start those awards back this year,” Harrison said. “We have those two things so her name will carry on, but I don’t even think we would need those. I think her name will carry on in everybody’s mind and memory.”
Numerous tributes about Marcella Mountjoy have been posted on social media since her death.
“Williamsburg has lost it’s ‘Lady of Williamsburg’; a former mayor, one of the BEST teachers I ever had, a woman of elegance, class, kindness, intelligence, encouragement, morals, values…A Woman of Great Worth!” Williamsburg City Councilwoman Laurel Jeffries West wrote on Facebook.
“Anytime I saw her, she made me feel like I was the most important person in the world to her. Her smile lit up the world around her. She taught me as a teenager, to value and appreciate nature (again), Teens sometimes forget that, getting caught up in the drama of growing up. She saw nature like it was Heaven on Earth, and she reminded me of that again.”
Williamsburg City School wrote on a Facebook post that the school was saddened by Mountjoy’s passing.
“A favorite teacher of many former Yellow Jackets, Mrs. Mountjoy leaves an incredible legacy of service to our school and community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mountjoy family during this difficult time,” the school’s Facebook message read.
Kristin Smith, one of the founders of Why Whitley, wrote on Facebook Saturday, “We lay to rest a vital leader of Whitley County’s history today. May we all lead by the example she put forth, and most importantly be kind to one another. Her wise words will be forever in my thoughts.”
Harrison also posted a fitting tribute to Mountjoy on Facebook, which noted that after he became mayor, she was his biggest cheerleader outside of his family because she cared so much for Williamsburg.
The post reads in part, “Mrs. Mountjoy was a very special lady, and I do mean LADY. She was the definition of ‘class’ and one of the best, most dedicated teachers WHS ever had. She loved our school and loved Williamsburg, too. Mrs. Mountjoy was so proud of Williamsburg and Whitley County.”