KOCHI: Former Mayor of Kochi and also the first woman to lead the city, Mercy Williams, passed away here on Wednesday. She was 65. She had been undergoing homeopathic treatment for cancer. She breathed her last at 3.30 pm at Thekkumpurathu house, her residence, at Santhipuram road at Thammanam. She is survived by husband T J Williams and son Anoop Joachim. Her body will be placed at her home for the public to pay homage and the funeral will be held at St John the Baptist Church cemetery on Thursday at 3 pm. Her eyes will be donated as per wish, family members said.
Before she took charge as the first woman Mayor and 16th Mayor of the Council of Kochi Corporation, Mercy Williams worked as a lecturer at St Teresa’s College, Ernakulam. She retired from the college as the head of the department of sociology.
After her retirement, Mercy Williams contested the local body elections in 2005 and won from Kunnumpuram division. Later, she was nominated as the Mayor by the CPM district committee, recording her name in the annuls of history as the first woman Mayor of Kochi.
She held the reins of the Council till 2010. Mercy Williams did not contest in the local body elections which was held in 2010, which saw UDF regain control of the Council.
“Mercy Williams, sincerely made great efforts to get the Central Government’s funds that were allocated for Kochi, after it was included in the list of cities selected under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
It was during her tenure as Mayor that the first solid waste treatment plant for Kochi was inaugurated at Brahmapuram. Later, when the plant developed technical snags, she took necessary steps to launch the rectification works and made sure to that the plant became functional again,” recollected councillor M Anilkumar, who was the Working Standing Committee chairman in the Mercy Williams-led Council.
He said that as a person, Mercy Williams was a open-hearted woman who did not pretend and used to be very frank. “Another of her major quality was that she was not a corrupt person,” he added.
Remembering Mercy Williams, the then opposition leader of Kochi Corporation, A B Sabu said that the former Mayor had taken the initiative to launch various development projects for the city. “She launched various projects including the one to tackle waste management in the city. She always tried to garner the opposition bench’s support before making any major decision and also had given due consideration and respect to the opinions put forth by the opposition,” Sabu added. “Nobody will believe that she came from a teaching background and not a political one. Such was her way of working. She took the council forward without attracting complaints. Just as a teacher manages her students and holds them together as a unit, she worked with the council,” said T K Ashraf, councillor.
“As the Mayor of Kochi Corporation she worked sincerely. It is commendable that though she had no political background she became a Mayor. her being sworn in as the Mayor was a great moment for women of the city,” said M C Josephine, former GCDA chairperson.