Willie Mae Williams was born in Archer, Florida, on October 23, 1912, and raised in Tampa. There she graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1933. Three years later she enrolled in Edward Waters College, but left due to illness. Williams moved to Washington, D.C., where she performed domestic work until rumors of war motivated her to return to Tampa.
Williams enlisted in the WAAC in late 1942, and in April of 1943 was sent to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, for basic training. In September, they were sent to Fort Des Moines, Iowa, where she completed cooks’ and bakers’ school. Williams was then transferred to Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, in December 1943. There she worked as a hospital cook until December 1945, when the camp closed and she was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for discharge.
After her service, Williams used the GI Bill to attend photographers’ school in New York, X-ray technician training, and business school. Williams eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where she worked in the local post office as a distribution clerk for 23 years, retiring in 1972. She returned to Tampa and began work with the local Girls Clubs. She helped organize a branch of the American Legion in Tampa and has been the commander of two American Legion posts.