Cora Best Taylor Williams was ahead of her time.

When her husband Jesse Parker Williams, a lumber and railroad magnate, died in 1913, Mrs. Williams took over management of their business affairs. She assumed the role of president of one of their holdings — the Georgia, Florida and Alabama Railroad — thus becoming the world’s only woman president of a railroad.

Mrs. Williams also was foresighted in recognizing the dilemma of women and children whose financial resources had become exhausted due to lengthy illnesses. Medicare and Medicaid were nonexistent, and there was little hospital insurance. Serious illness posed particular problems for those of moderate means who were ineligible for charitable care, yet not able to meet medical expenses for a lengthy period. When Mrs. Williams died in 1924, it was this middle group she sought to help in her will.

JP Williams HospitalThrough her bequest, the Jesse Parker Williams Hospital opened its doors in 1941. Adjacent to Crawford Long Hospital, the small hospital was dedicated to the care of women and children under 12 years of age. In a unique arrangement, the hospital employed only an administrator and contracted with Crawford Long for all staff and services. The hospital gave up its independent charter in 1992 with the establishment of the Jesse Parker Williams Foundation to more effectively serve a broader population.