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Marie Williams Reflects On Her Time As Principal Of Reitz Memorial

Dr. Marie Williams

The end of December was a once-in-a-lifetime moment for Dr. Marie Williams, which left her with mixed emotions.

After a nearly 44-year career in Catholic education, Williams bid farewell to Reitz Memorial High School and retired as principal.

“There’s excitement about the future, but there is sadness in leaving so many people that have been so important in your life,” she said in December.

Williams spent two-and-a-half years as Memorial’s principal. She is the only person to serve as principal of both Memorial and Mater Dei high schools, according to Memorial President John K. Browning.

Williams’ career spanned many roles, including Director of the Pastoral Office of Education for the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana from 2007 to 2016; Mater Dei High School principal from 2003 to 2007; Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Evansville from 1997 to 2003; and principal of Evansville’s St. Theresa School from 1994 to 1998.
A native of Marion, Ind., she also served in teaching and administrative roles at Catholic schools in Huntington, Marion and New Haven, Ind.

Williams felt privileged to return to Evansville in 2016 to join the Memorial community. Both of her children, Michelle and Kyle Brandle, are Memorial graduates.

Returning to a school building was challenging, Williams admitted, but she enjoys the close relationships with staff and students.

“I always say it’s like a roller coaster here, because you celebrate so much and we’re so blessed as a school, but there’s always pain in human lives,” she said.

Her most painful memory involves the sudden and untimely death of teacher and girls track coach Dylan Barnes in March 2017. Barnes was 43.

But Williams has many joyful moments, which she said include success stories of students in academics, theater, band and sports.

“If I was only here for two-and-a-half years, I think I picked the best,” she said with a smile.

In retirement, she plans to spend more time with family and friends, read more books, become more involved at Good Shepherd Church, and she already has a trip to Hawaii planned with a college roommate for February.

School administrators and teachers constantly strive to be better, Williams said, and she is optimistic about Memorial’s future under new principal Sally Sternberg’s guidance.

“I think she’s going to do an outstanding job,” Williams said. “And the time we’ve had to transition has been very valuable.”