This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
In her years with the New Orleans Police Department, Sharon Williams had an unusual way of dealing with the many troubled young women she came across, some of them homeless. She “adopted” them, her sister Jashawn Berry Lucius said.
“Once she adopted you, you were in our family for life,” Ms. Lucius said. The young women would be invited to “social gatherings, kids’ birthday parties, Mom and Dad’s anniversary,” she said. Ms. Williams often went to Walmart to buy clothes for them.
“Be careful how you treat people,” Ms. Lucius said her sister had warned her, “because you could be entertaining an angel.”
That nurturing spirit endured throughout a 30-year police career, until July 26, when Ms. Williams died at Slidell Memorial Hospital, just outside New Orleans. She was 54. Ms. Lucius said the cause was Covid-19.
Sharon Ann McGee was born on Dec. 2, 1965, in New Orleans to Willie McGee Jr., a longshoreman and seaman, and Jacquelyn (Mosley) McGee, a housekeeper. She graduated from Oliver Perry Walker Senior High School in 1984 and attended Louisiana State University for a year.
For most of her career with the police force, Ms. Williams was an administrator in a district that included New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward, a largely Black neighborhood that was battered by Hurricane Katrina.
Crises brought out her expertise and organizational skills. After several hurricanes, she helped her colleagues fill out forms seeking aid from government bodies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And after a cyberattack several months ago rendered the city government’s computer network unusable, Ms. Williams helped her millennial colleagues get their jobs done.
“These young kids were staring at each other: ‘How are we going to work?’” said Frank Young, the police captain in charge of Ms. Williams’s district. “She enjoyed telling them, ‘You’re going to have to write, baby,’” and pulled out boxes of old police report forms that she started distributing.
Ms. Williams brought the same attention to detail in monitoring the district’s supply room. When a ream of paper once disappeared, Mr. Young said, she changed the locks.
“She’s the mother hen of the station,” he said.
Ms. Williams’s marriage to Raymond Williams ended indivorce. In addition to her sister, she is survived by her parents; another sister, Karen Thomas; two brothers, Willie McGee III and Ashley McGee; a son, Kendric Jerell McGee; and 10 grandchildren.
If Ms. Williams approached her police work with a mothering sensibility, she approached her home life with a degree of policing. Ms. Lucius, who was 15 years her junior, experienced this firsthand.
Once, when Ms. Lucius was 13, she tried to leave the house to hang out with friends. Ms. Williams stopped her and asked for evidence that she had finished her homework. Upon inspection, Ms. Williams noticed that her younger sister’s worksheet had a December date. It was April.
Ms. Williams often told her sister to focus on her education and her future, but the advice went unheeded; when Ms. Lucius gave birth at 17, she struggled to finish high school.
“The morals and the guidelines Sharon tried to apply to me, it may not have worked for me,” Ms. Lucius, now 39, recalled. “But it allowed me to pass them on to my daughter.”
Her 21-year-old daughter is advancing in a career with the Navy, and, Ms. Lucius said, she hasn’t become a mother before she’s ready.
“She broke that generational curse,” Ms. Lucius said. “I can attribute that to the teachings Sharon gave me.”