Weekends at the lake: Mom passes down her love for lake
When driving to the Alexandria lakes area from the hubbub of the metro, something seemed to happen when Bill and Joyce Williams would reach the halfway point.
"We didn't talk about work anymore," said Joyce of her conversations with her husband. "Going up to the lake was our refuge, our escape, our joy. It was our freedom."
Joyce and her husband, Bill, who died in September 2016, owned their own financial planning business. As they would make their way to the family cabin on Lake Darling nearly every weekend, Joyce said their conversations would take an almost magical turn from work to lake life.
"It was just glorious," said Joyce,"I enjoyed being on it, being in it and just looking at it. It's never boring, never dull. The lake fed our souls."
It still does. But now, it's Joyce and her daughter, Katie Williams, who can't get enough of lake life in Alexandria.
Joyce, who is "mostly retired," enjoys every weekend she gets at the lake — boating, being with family, entertaining and waterskiing. And, she has passed on that love of the lake to Katie.
The mother-daughter duo said lake living is and will always be their life in the summertime.
"It's relaxation time," said Katie. "I love being on the lake, in the boat, going slow close to shore, looking at all the houses, noticing everything. You get to have great conversations and it's fun, so relaxing. It's an escape. And that smell, the smell of the wood boat. The mahogany and cedar, it's special."
Joyce, who lives in Plymouth, and Katie, who lives in Maple Grove, drive to the family cabin as many weekends as they can during the summer. Joyce usually makes a four-day weekend of it, staying Thursday night through Monday. Katie, who took over the family business and is a certified financial planner, is typically at the lake Friday through Sunday.
Lake life has been a part of the Williams family for more than half a century.
Joyce was a sophomore at Hamline University when she started dating Bill Williams, whose family had a cabin on Lake Darling. In 1965, she made her first trip to the Alexandria lakes area. During their courtship, Bill told her he hoped she liked lake living because his family spent their summers at the lake. Joyce was raised by parents who loved the water, too, and she was already an avid water skier before meeting Bill.
As for Katie, 45, she said with a laugh, "I've been coming to the lake since I was a thought in my dad's brain!"
Katie and her mom own three boats — Bill's 1947 Chris-Craft 22-foot sportsman touring boat, which they are selling; Katie's 1947 16-foot Garwood Ensign; and a new Sea Ray water skiing boat the family purchased last summer.
Katie called the Chris-Craft her dad's third child, joking that it was the most loved child in the family. Katie does have a brother, Mike, who lives in Florida now but who also grew up enjoying summers on Lake Darling.
"The boat was almost like a fine piece of furniture, so loved," she said, with Joyce chiming in saying how her husband loved the sound of the engine. "It just electrified him."
Joyce remembers one of the first times they took the boat out around the chain of lakes and saw several people waving at them. They were with a couple of lake neighbors and so Joyce thought the people must have been waving at their guests.
"I found out they were actually waving at the boat," she said with a giggle.
The family loved that boat and were only its third owners, Joyce said. But the boat has served its purpose, and now the family is ready to sell it.
Last summer, when the new Sea Ray boat was purchased, Katie said she wanted her mom to be the first one to see how it worked for water skiing. At 73, Joyce can still slalom on the open water, and although she said she may not go as far as she once did, Joyce still enjoys every minute of it.
"If the neighbors are out when she is skiing," Katie added, "they enjoy cheering her on from their dock!"
With summer fast approaching, the Williams' mother-daughter team can't wait to start their weekend treks to the lake.
"Once the nice weather sustains, we feel it — it is in our hearts," said Joyce. "We start to yearn for the lake and can't wait to get back to it."
Whether they are in the Sea Ray with Joyce towing a line behind on one ski or in Katie's Garwood, slowly meandering around shore, they hope you'll give a wave or two — and they probably won't even mind if the wave is meant for the boat.
A version of this story first appeared in Chicz magazine, a bi-monthly product of the Echo Press. The May/June issue is currently on newsstands.