Virgilia "Jill" Williams was born 16 October 1914, in Grandview, Iowa, the third child of Harold and Leila (Lieberknecht) Williams. She graduated with honors from Mount Vernon High School, and in 1936 received a bachelor of arts in history and education from Cornell College in Mount Vernon. She later earned certifications from Augustana College and Northwestern University and became a teacher of the deaf and hearing impaired.
Williams joined the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in May 1944 and was sent to the U.S. Naval Training School at Hunter College in the Bronx, New York. She attended hospital corps school at the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and was then assigned to the hospital at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, where she served as a pharmacist's mate. In August 1945 she was transferred back to the Bronx, where she worked as an instructor of pharmacist's mates.
When Williams was honorably discharged from the navy in December 1945, she returned to the Midwest where she taught elementary school for over forty years. Upon her death in 2003, she donated her body to the University of Iowa Medical School for scientific research.