Marie Williams, D.P.M.
Marie Liguori Williams, D.P.M., ’77 almost didn’t attend Immaculata. Having been offered a scholarship to another university, Williams didn’t consider it until another basketball player, Maria Alonso, suggested she look at IC. “She asked me why I wasn’t going to Immaculata,” said Williams. “She told me they had just won another national championship and they had a great pre-med program, so I applied, got accepted, and made the team.”
The team was the championship-winning Mighty Macs, under the direction of famed Head Coach Cathy Rush. According to Williams, “I knew I’d have to go in as a walk-on—I’d have to try out—so I did, and everything just fell into place for me.
“I realized it was going to be an incredible experience,” said Williams. “Cathy Rush was definitely interested in the girls, and it was such a family-oriented team. I was really happy.”
Academically, Williams recalls Sister Marian Bernard, IHM, a biology teacher, as one of her most influential instructors. “Out of all the people I remember,” said Williams, “she was one of my favorite, most encouraging professors.”
As if being a basketball champion and a pre-med student weren’t enough, Williams also played field hockey on the second team in the eastern region for Immaculata. “My brother played football, my sister was a cheerleader, but field hockey was a very good sport for me,” said Williams.
One of the many things that fell into place for Williams at Immaculata was her choice of professional path. “I didn’t know what kind of doctor I wanted to be—osteopathic, allopathic—I was looking at everything, but IC made my decision,” she said.
During a Career Day, a podiatrist came to speak to the students, and part of that presentation was about women in sports. “It sounded great to me,” said Williams. Rush helped Williams get a job as a graduate assistant for athletics in men’s field hockey at Edinboro State College, where Williams earned a master’s in biology and genetic development.
From there Williams went on to the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, then to Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical School for her residency in foot and ankle surgery. She is an adjunct professor as well as the first clinical dean at Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine, Miami Shores, FL, and she is currently residency director at Jackson North Medical College.
Williams noted that, “Because of my skills, I found that surgery came easily to me and I love it. Surgery is a team sport.”
Williams is a limb salvage and trauma surgeon in private practice in Miami, FL, but her work includes wound and diabetic foot care, as well as the full range of podiatric services. “The most rewarding part of my work is changing people’s lives for the better, making them pain-free, even if it’s something minor,” said Williams. “And the most difficult part is when you have to tell someone that you can’t save their leg. We really get to know people in all aspects, we get to know the whole person and very much integrate into their lives.”
The “we” is Williams and her husband, Jim, who has been running the practice since 1984. “We brought our kids up in the office while I worked,” said Williams. “We did that for years.”
The “kids” are now 27—a daughter soon to be a chiropractor; a son, 26, who is a fine artist; and a 19-year-old son attending Florida Atlantic University with plans to go into medicine. And despite the demands of her practice, Williams always found time to be involved in her children’s activities. “I coached all three of them in their sports growing up,” said Williams. “Basketball, of course, and my daughter also played softball.”
Today, when Williams isn’t seeing patients, performing surgery, or traveling across the United States lecturing, she is helping to make the world a better place with The Way to Happiness Foundation, which promotes a non-religious moral code designed to improve the lives of people around the globe. Williams has traveled to Colombia to distribute the foundation’s literature, and she also has been involved in Barry University’s Yucatan Crippled Children’s Project, a humanitarian effort that has helped thousands of Mexico’s crippled, indigent children.
So what does this busy doctor do when she wants to unwind? “I play basketball to relax,” Williams said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. “I still play every Sunday with my boys.”