“I just tell the truth.” Yes, Isabelle Williams (née Zafforoni), 96, always did through her eyes. On July 19, 2020, we lost the one person who told it like it was whether we wanted to hear it or not, just 9 days shy of her 97th birthday.
A resident of Haddonfield since 1964, Isabelle’s story began on the other side of the United States in Cle Elum, Washington. Born to Italian immigrants in 1923, Charles and Annamarie Zafforoni, she was the only girl sandwiched between Joseph and Charles Jr. Coming of age during The Great Depression toughed Isabelle’s exterior and made humor her ultimate tool to combat the hardships around her.
Following her graduation from Cle Elum High School in 1941, Isabelle made her way to the big city, Seattle to attend secretarial school. She met and married her first husband, John V. Porter USMC. At age 22 she was widowed when John was killed-in-combat March 1945 during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Following his death, she attended what is now Washington State University, while putting the pieces of her life back together.
The tides turned in 1951 when Isabelle met Naval Officer John Paxton Williams (deceased January 8, 2018). As John would always state, it was love at first sight. Shortly after, they married and began their world adventure as a tight-knit Naval family while welcoming their son, Philip and daughter, Ann. Their journey spanned nine relocations from Spain, to California, and finally Haddonfield, NJ where they settled in 1964.
In their retirement, Isabelle lived to the fullest playing golf with John, taking art lessons and painting, cheering on sports teams alongside her son-in-law, Doug, and caring for her home she occupied until the very end. Above all, she loved being surrounded by her family – especially her daughter’s triplets who grew up just three houses away. Never one without a book near, Isabelle also became part of the community fabric through her many years volunteering at the Haddonfield Public Library; a job she remembered fondly.
For her vivacious, whip-smart, and generous personality, Isabelle will be deeply missed. She is the true embodiment of her generation who became stronger because of the hardships they faced and ultimately thrived.
She is survived by her daughter, Ann Williams Hambry, (Douglas), son Phillip Williams (Karen), four grandchildren John and Michael (deceased) Williams, and Joseph, John, and Virginia Hambry. They all now have another angel watching over them, alongside her husband. There is no Memorial planned. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Haddonfield Friends of the Library at www.hfol.org.