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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WILLIAMS, KATHERINE WITHROW

WILLIAMS, KATHERINE WITHROW

WILLIAMS, KATHERINE WITHROW (12 Aug. 1904-23 Feb. 1994) a leading patron of Cleveland's arts community, was born in Shepardstown, West Virginia, the daughter of Tully and Lalla Reynolds Biays. She and her husband Alfred, who helped found the BRUSH DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, came to Cleveland in 1928. Her abiliy to recognize talent and secure the cooperation of administrators, benefactors, and artists made her invaluable in the promotion of the city's cultural organizations. Williams saw to it that Ray Shepardson was introduced to the people who could assist him in reviving the theatre complex at PLAYHOUSE SQUARE. Recognizing the talent of novelist Les Roberts, she invited him to the salon she maintained in her home on a regular basis where authors, artists, and visiting musicians could meet with one another. Williams helped dancers Dennis Nahat and IAN HORVATH organize the Cleveland Ballet School in 1972, and in 1988 she funded an endowment which annually awarded a student scholarship in her name for study there. She also was a founding board member of the CLEVELAND BALLET and was a trustee of the CLEVELAND MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT, the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, and DANCECLEVELAND.

Katherine Biays married Alfred L. Williams in 1926, and they had two children, Clurie Williams Bennis and Leslie Williams Mills. A resident of Cleveland, she died at her home and was cremated.