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story.lead_photo.caption Lisa Williams started her career with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 17 years ago as a retail advertising sales representative. After being promoted to ad manager for the Tri-Lakes Edition in 2009, she was an essential part of making the newspaper the product it is today. Williams, 59, died unexpectedly on May 7. - Photo by Kelvin Green

An old saying goes that when you take a job or embark on a new challenge, the goal should be to leave it better than you found it. Tri-Lakes Edition advertising manager Lisa Williams, who died unexpectedly May 7, did just that during her tenure with the newspaper.

Williams, 59, was responsible for maintaining the advertising base of the Tri-Lakes Edition, one of three zoned editions produced by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Williams began her career with the newspaper as a retail sales representative and was soon promoted to her position with the Tri-Lakes Edition, which she had held since 2009. Many who knew her said Williams maintained an admirable demeanor in a challenging and often stressful role.

Whether it was carefully walking a client through the advertising process or dropping off a box of truffles to the editorial staff at Christmas, Williams strove to be a kind person, which was evident in her daily interactions.

Michelle Cothern, director of zoned advertising sales, said Williams was someone whom her clients trusted and was essential to the success of the Tri-Lakes Edition. In that role, Cothern said, she never saw Williams lose her cool.

“I always admired Lisa’s calm demeanor,” Cothern said. “It seemed that no matter how stressful the situation, she always maintained her composure. In all the years that we worked together, I never saw her lose her temper. She had a calming way about her that was almost contagious.”

During her time at the helm of Tri-Lakes Edition advertising, Williams helped the newspaper grow from a small advertising supplement to the full-blown, community-focused editorial product it is today. She also spearheaded many special sections seen within the newspaper, including an annual medical directory, which has been recognized by the Arkansas Press Association in the Better Newspaper Advertising Contest each year since the directory’s creation. In addition, she coordinated and executed multiple events throughout the years that were presented by the Tri-Lakes Edition.

Vicki Morgan, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette prepress manager, was Williams’ friend for many years prior to Williams accepting a position at the newspaper. The two worked side by side on countless projects throughout the years.

“In everything she did, her goals were to be kind and to do the right thing,” Morgan said. “She put a lot of thought into each ad she created, every event she coordinated, and she carefully considered the needs of each advertiser she served.”

Penny Rea of Penny Rea Hypnosis Clinic worked with Williams for several years and experienced firsthand the care and thoughtful planning that Williams put into providing the proper strategies for her clients.

“[Lisa] was my sales rep for over 17 years and always had my best interest at heart,” Rea said in a comment written in response to Williams’ obituary, which is available at and was published in the May 9 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Williams was married for 37 years to Dan Williams. She had two children, Jason and Lauren, and two grandchildren, Brady and Halen.

Rea went on to say in her comment that she and Williams were also great friends and enjoyed attending concerts, laughing, eating pizza and talking for hours about their kids and “comparing notes about their grandchildren.”

“Lisa was a beacon of faith and strength to her entire family and a compassionate mentor to all who knew her,” her obituary states. “She was a very loving and supportive wife and mother, always putting her kids first and always believing in them. Lisa’s grandchildren were the center of her world.”

Williams worked closely with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Niche Publications Department, which is where the Tri-Lakes Edition’s editorial content is produced. Staci Miller, Niche Publications director, developed a friendship with Williams during Miller’s 12 years in the department.

“Lisa was one of the kindest and most genuine people I’ve had the privilege of knowing,” Miller said. “Not only was she a joy to work with at the Tri-Lakes Edition, but she was also a good friend to those in need. Her compassion is an inspiration to everyone who was blessed to know her.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in memory of Williams be made to the American Heart Association.

Staff writer Wendy Miller can be reached at (501) 399-3616 or

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