Meet Tammy Williams

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA)- Tammy Williams has been nominated as one of WCIA 3’s Remarkable Women by her daughter, for her service to Danville and the National Cemetery. She Organizes and fundraises for Wreaths Across America. An organization that places wreaths at gravesites for our fallen heroes. 

“I don’t know, I don’t know what he’d say, but he’d know that I missed him,” said Williams. 

Williams unexpectedly lost her best friend in October of 2012. 

“The day before we had texted chili pictures, he made dear chili, I made regular chili,” said Williams “And then the next day my husband sent me a text and said Hey I think Melki passed, and I was like I can’t imagine, I talked to him yesterday.” 

And after going to Facebook, she found out Kirk Melton who she called Melki died in a car accident. “And I… Phew it was rough, he got me through a really difficult part of my life,” said Williams. 

And just like that, Tammy took on what she calls her new full-time job, organizing and placing wreaths at the graves of our nation’s heroes with Wreaths Across America. “Our best year was about halfway full of 5,000 wreaths,” said Williams. 

Not only was Melki a veteran, but Tammy’s husband Keith Williams served in the army. “Nobody works harder,” said Williams. 

The William’s say Melki’s mission was to help veterans any way he could, and now she gets to honor his legacy. “It’s her way of serving, honoring, because, without the sacrifices that these men and women made, we wouldn’t have the freedoms, and letting the families know we still think of them, especially at the Christmas time,” said Williams. 

Meet Dr. Mary Crosson Welle Strang

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)- Doctor Mary Crosson Welle Strang has been nominated as one of WCIA 3’s Remarkable Women. Aside from saving animals, she is doing her part to support the fine arts, mental health, and medical equity. 

She runs All Creature’s Animal Hospital in Urbana and attended U of I for her undergraduate and vet school. 

But she is more than a veterinarian. She is a mother and wife to Phil Strange. “I tell people her job is to take care of all the dogs and cats in the world, my job is to take care of her,” said Strang.  

She is also a mental health advocate for her employees. “Unfortunately, our industry is plagued with having a high or relatively high suicide rate compared to other professions right now,” said Welle Strang. “It’s important to make sure we’re open to making sure their mental health is taken care of.”  

Mary also supports the arts. “I’m involved in local theater, community theater, I’m on the board for station theater,” said Welle Strang.  

At the start of the pandemic, she was not sure if they would still be open but wanted to keep her workers employed. So, she had them repaint the hospital. “All the art that we have is from local artists,” said Welle Strang.  

On top of all that, Mary pushes for more equity in STEM. “I graduated from vet school here in 1990, mine was the first veterinary class where there were more women than men,” said Welle Strang. 

She says it is demanding work but being able to help man’s best friend every day is worth the blood sweat, and tears to become a doctor. 

Meet Ronnie Turner-Winston

CHAMPAIGN/URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)- She served her country in the Air Force. Now her goal is to serve her community.  

Ronnie Turner Winston has been nominated as one of WCIA 3’s Remarkable Women.  

 Ronnie is involved in over 5 organizations across Champaign/Urbana and believes that by doing so, she can set the tone for younger generations.  

“I did a short 6-month deployment in desert storm,” said Turner-Winston. 

Service is something more than just a word to Ronnie. “That was probably the hard part, is the adjustment of this is happening and we are going to war,” said Tuner-Winston. 

After She retired from the Air Force, she felt like a piece of her was missing. “I get this postcard in the mail, and it says, do you miss the comradery of your military service, and I do, hahah,” said Turner-Winston. 

So, she did what she knew best, Serve. This time with the American Legion in Champaign. “Thats part of the reason I continue to work so hard is that I am doing my part,” said Turner-Winston. 

Then, Ronnie got more involved. First by joining the VFW. And then the Champaign County NAACP. The National Council for Negro Women, then Champaign County Black Chamber of Commerce. And if that was not enough…The Urbana school district PTA, and the choir vice president for her church. 

“As a community, if we all don’t take part in its growth and development then there won’t be anything to pass onto our children,” said Turner-Winston. 

Ronnie recognizes that there has been an uptick in violence across Central Illinois. “It’s going to take years to overturn where we’ve gotten,” said Turner-Winston. But she believes healing the damage done, all goes back to service. “It does go back to volunteerism and service,” said Turner-Winston.