Eleanor Joyce Toliver-Williams

Eleanor Joyce Toliver-Williams was born Dec. 21, 1936, to Jack and Viola Ford-Toliver, in Texas. In 1955 she married Tollie Williams Jr., and had seven children. When her father passed, she then moved to Alaska in 1963 to be close to her older sister, Vanee Robinson. Thus the journey begins.

In 1968, Eleanor began her career at Federal Aviation Administration, cleaning the building -- no job too small. She then moved to the steno pool and on to become the first African-American woman to certify as an air traffic controller at the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center, in 1971. In 1976 it was verified and found to be true that she was the first African-American to certify, at which time she was entered into the U.S. history books. Her legacy did not stop there; this was merely a stepping-stone.

She went on to become the first African-American woman to head up a major en-route facility in 1994, at the Cleveland ARTCC in Oberlin, Ohio, the nation's second-busiest en-route air traffic control facility. She was inducted into the Black Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001, along with such greats as C. Alfred Anderson and several other Tuskegee Airmen.

She was one of the first presidents of the Alaska Chapter of the Business and Professional Women. She is listed in the 104th Congressional Record, "Who's Who in the World," "Who's Who in America" and "Who's Who of American Women."

Eleanor received many awards: Department of Transportation Secretary's Award for Excellence in EEO, 1985; National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees C. Alfred Anderson Award, 1991; Texas Youth Advocate of the Year by Commission of Alcohol & Drug Abuse, 2001; North to the Future BPW Club's Woman of the Year, 2006; Proclamation of the Bronze Eagle, renamed the Eleanor J. Williams Bronze Eagle Award, 2011.

"You cannot be stopped, if you are willing to keep trying," she would say. Her quote of late was "I am too old to die young; I have lived a long full life. Let us all learn to get along and work together."

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