Mary Williams-Neal was appointed to the Board of Parks & Recreation Commission in 2019.
Kansas City is celebrating the life of Commissioner Mary Williams-Neal. She was not only known for her great leadership within the City but her deep dedication to its residents.
Commissioner Williams-Neal was born in Pace, Mississippi and traveled to Kansas City, Missouri in April of 1969 to attend the University of Missouri Kansas City. The daughter of a sharecropper, Williams-Neal dreamed from a young age of how she could impact the world for the better. Soon after Williams-Neal arrived people took notice of her thoughtful nature, positive attitude, and willingness to listen. UMKC was so impressed by her intelligence and spirit they sent her to Harvard University where she spent many years representing Kansas City.
Prior to her civic legacy, Williams-Neal excelled at work. She proudly managed a local McDonalds franchise, worked for Hallmark, and Gates Bar-B-Q where she attended their Rib Tech University. During this time, she became involved with community efforts by attending neighborhood meetings. She once said while she questioned her ability, others saw a fire in her soul and dedication to make Kansas City a better place. She built relationships with the Hall and Dunn families and was encouraged to run for City Council.
Williams-Neal was elected as a Third District City Councilwoman in 1995 and served in the that position until 2003. She was a City Council during former Mayor and current Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver II and former Mayor Kay Barnes tenures, both of whom she greatly respected. Williams-Neal made great contributions to the city and her district. During her time as a council member, many of her colleagues loved her “teamwork” attitude. She was a strong and caring advocate for her constituents. Mary Williams-Neal was appointed as a Parks Board Commissioner by Mayor Quinton Lucas in 2019 and served until her passing.
“I’m saddened to learn of the passing of former Councilwoman Mary Williams-Neal, who led an amazing life as a public servant, a businesswoman, a mother, a spouse, a parishioner, and friend. She had a heart for the young and optimism for our future. I’ll miss her and my condolences go out to her family and the many she helped over the years,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “I first met her while she volunteered at Central High School. Post-politics for her was not about money or influence, it was about doing her all to make life better for the people. We were blessed to have her love and works here in Kansas City for generations.”
“The Parks Board and Staff will always remember Commissioner Williams-Neal’s commitment to serving neighborhoods throughout the City and her dedication to enhancing the quality of life for all Kansas Citians through a Parks System she had been involved with for decades,” Parks & Recreation Board President Jack Holland said.
The City appointed her to several boards of directors, including Mid-America Regional Council, Kansas and Missouri Metropolitan Culture District Commission, and the 18th and Vine Authority. Mary Williams-Neal was Founder/CEO of the Get Ahead Club since 1998. She was a member of Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas.
Many will remember her through her wise words, “Aggressiveness is a weapon for battle; assertiveness is a skill that uses openness, honesty and peaceful negotiation to help everyone win.”
She sadly passed away on April 2, 2023. City flags will be lowered to half-staff in her memory.