Jewel Helen Ogonji


Services for Jewel Helen Ogonji, 76, will be held Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, at Sweet Union Baptist Church, 302 N. Main St. in Jacksonville, Texas. An 11 a.m. viewing will be followed by a memorial service officiated by Rev. Ceola Curley Jr.
She died Aug. 11, 2019.
Jewel Helen Williams was born Dec. 10, 1942, to Odie Williams and Arzella Hill Williams in Gallatin, Texas. Jewel accepted Christ in her life at an early age at Elm Grove Baptist Church in Rusk, and attended the local Elm Grove School System. She attended Fred Douglass High School in Jacksonville, before moving to Dallas to assist with the care of a family member. She graduated in 1960 as valedictorian of Hamilton Park High School in Dallas.
Jewel attended Prairie View A&M College, graduating summa cum laude on May, 17, 1964, with a Bachelor of Science in biology and education. She was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship and continued her education at Atlanta University in Georgia, where she met the late Dr. Gilbert Benjamin Odhiambo Ogonji.
After earning a master's in library sciences from Atlanta University in 1965, Jewel became a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York. On Aug. 6, 1966, she and Gilbert exchanged wedding vows at Elm Grove Baptist Church in Rusk.
The couple then moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked at The Library of Congress in their Archives Division. She became an active member of the American Library Association, attending annual conferences that stressed the importance of free access of information and intellectual freedom through public library systems.
She later became a branch librarian, overseeing the Young Adult Division at Takoma Park Library, a part of the D.C. Public Library System in Washington, D.C. After a few years, she became Head Librarian for the Children's Division at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, the main library for the D.C. Public Library System. Jewel climbed the ranks and became the Head Librarian for the MLK Library, then subsequently was named Head Librarian overseeing the Library Services and Programs Department for the entire D.C. Public Library System.
In that position, Jewel oversaw, implemented, programmed and executed many community-based programs, ranging from the International Training in Communications Annual Speech Contest, the Lunchtime Author Series, library anniversaries, learning and educational growth programs and the Annual Martin Luther King Memorial Library Gala. After more than 30 years of service in the advancement of education through the library system resources, she retired from the D.C. Public Library System.
She was an active member of People's Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, until her until illness kept her from attending regularly. A devoted wife, Jewel and Gilbert had a loving marriage grounded in a solid friendship, valuing each other's opinions, supportive of each other in all aspects of their lives, in true harmony with each other.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Gilbert Benjamin Odhiambo Ogonji; her parents; her stepmother, Gladys Myrtle Price Williams; brothers, Shelby Williams and Curly Williams; and sister-in-law, Linnet Niver Otieno.
Jewel is survived by her daughters, Alisa Adhiambo Ogonji Wallace and Azella Akinyi Ogonji Dunams; sons-in-law, Reverend Stephen Linwood Wallace and Dr. Bruce Danoyla Dunams; grandchildren, Delaney Marquise Wallace, Sierra Atieno Wallace, Evan Anias Dunams and Nathaniel Okelo Dunams; brothers and sisters, Iris Deloris Borsay, Gloria Verdall Jones, Era Gail Robertson, John Oliver Williams and Billy Jack Williams Sr.; two stepbrothers, M.L. Nays and Charlie Bob Nays.
Interment will be at Plainview Cemetery in Ponta, Texas, followed by repast in the fellowship hall at Sweet Union Baptist Church in Jacksonville.
Services are under the direction of Snowden Funeral Home of Rockville, Maryland, and Community Funeral Home of Jacksonville.
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Published on August 22, 2019
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2 posts

Willie Swanson
Aug 24, 2019
So sorry for your loss.RIP.May the comfort of God help you during this difficult time.
Azella Dunams
Aug 22, 2019
I love you so very much Mommy!!
You have showed me how to be a strong, successful, and caring woman. We felt your love and grace in life and it blankets us still.
Though I will truly miss you and my heart aches with sorrow, I must let it be well with my soul for I know you are at peace and feel God's love in the Heavenly Home.