COLUMBIA, S.C., Feb. 4 (UPI) — Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the biracial daughter of the late one-time segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., died Monday at 87, a funeral home said.
The notice from Leevy’s Funeral Home said Washington-Williams, a retired school teacher, was residing in Irmo when she died, The (Columbia) State reported. The cause of death was not provided.
Washington-Williams, who Thurmond conceived with Carrie Butler, an African-American maid in his parents’ home, didn’t reveal Thurmond was her father until after his death in June 2003, and the following year her name was added to the Thurmond monument on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds listing her as one of his children.
The year after she was born, Washington-Williams was sent to live with an aunt in Pennsylvania and wasn’t introduced to Thurmond, who served 48 years in the Senate, until 1941. She also met with him in 1946 in the president’s office at South Carolina State where she was enrolled as a student.
Washington-Williams married Julius Williams and they had two sons and two daughters. Williams died in 1964.
She said she waited for her father’s death to reveal the family secret because “we respected each other” and she “never wanted to do anything to harm him or cause detriment to his life or the lives of those around him.”
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