by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Dec. 27, 2011.
The date is somewhat innocuous to many, but to the Williams family, it represents the day their lives changed. It's the day their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt and friend, Zenobia Hamilton-Williams, was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
The 76-year-old Falls resident died two days later from her injuries.
Her family members and friends from Grace Cavalry church – about 30 total – paid tribute to her and remembered the life taken too soon at a somber vigil Thursday evening, exactly one year after the accident. They lit candles, signed poster board with messages and laid a memorial near the intersection of Niagara Falls Boulevard and 82nd Street, the location of the accident.
"It's been a whole year," Rene Williams, a daughter of Hamilton-Williams, said. "Nothing's been found yet. We're doing this to raise awareness of how dangerous Niagara Falls Boulevard is and to try to get information about who was driving and maybe get someone to come forward."
Despite the time, there's still no new information in her case. All that's known is Hamilton-Williams was struck while walking along the busy street, heading to the post office to mail a box of cookies to one of her sons. The driver reportedly sped off into the night after striking her so hard she flew into the air.
Her wallet wasn't recovered until a police officer at the scene noticed it hours later, finally identifying the woman they'd rushed to Erie County Medical Center.
The year's been a tearful one, Williams said, as she lit candles at the vigil.
"We spent the whole year wanting answers, wanting closure," she said. "We just want peace for the whole family. And there are friends of hers, too. All of us here love her."
She was loved by many in the community. Her friends often requested food items from her, especially baked goods. Those cookies she was delivering when she was hit were her creations. Her friends also enjoyed her peach cobbler.
Pastor Joseph Jones of Damascus Baptist Church on 24th Street said her baked goods were a staple in the city.
"She was well liked and loved in the community," he said. "She did a lot of baking. She baked for everybody."
Jones, who led the gathered group in prayer Thursday, said he met Hamilton-Williams when she started dating her husband, Rubin Williams, who was his friend.
He said losing her was tragic.
"They were a good family," he said. "They were ones to work hard, they enjoyed working to take care of themselves. And a year ago, she died. We just want someone to come forward."
In fact, the family also used the vigil to deliver a simple message to the driver who took their relative from them. They said they just want closure to rest themselves.
"There's no hatred," Rene Williams said. "We forgive you. We just ask you come forth and give us closure."
Anyone with information about the accident is asked to call the Niagara Falls Police Department traffic division at 286-456