Lem and Mary Williams
Lemuel Anthony Williams was born on March 18, 1901, in Buffalo, N.Y., but grew up in St. Paul, MN., with his parents and brothers; John, Bud, and Fran, and sisters; Jean and Klara.
He married Stella Robertson in the mid twenties, and they had two daughters. The first daughter, Laura Jane (Bunny) was born in 1927 and passed away in 1987. She married Dick Doody in 1949 and they had six children-two of which were twins. She divorced in 1969, and married Lowell Alfson in 1977, and they had no children.

The second daughter, Stella Elizabeth (Betty) was born in 1930. She married Robert Strathy in 1952 and they have three children-two of whom are twin boys who are now doctors.

Lem's interest in puppetry started when he built a small stage and a few hand puppets for Bunny and Betty in 1934. A widower, he became so interested in building the show, that he started carving wooden marionettes. Many friends came to the house, including John Shirley, Roger Stephens, Russian puppeteer Basil Milovsoroff, and Bob Longfield. Bunny and Betty had crushes on Bob who had great marionettes and was handsome and friendly to the girls.
Lem worked in the office of the Nickelplate Railroad Company, and eventually became a traffic representative. A young woman, Mary, worked in the same office. Lem saw Mary for the first time, when she and a friend were peeking through a door, watching a man in the next office.
Lem and Mary Jane Miller (born: Oct. 10, 1910), became good friends, and were married in May 1935. Mary was a devoted stepmother to Bunny and Betty.
By 1936, Lem had built several marionettes and performed in the backyard for neighborhood children. He soon performed for organizations, and met other puppeteers, who came to his house and made puppets and stages in his workshop.
In 1939, Lem and friend, Bob Longfield, started the TCP by inviting puppeteer friends to all meet at Oscar and Dorothy Adamson's house. Bob brought Irene Odegaard, who he knew from the WPA Puppet Drama Department. Virginia Upson Houghtaling, who had known Cedric Lindholm since 1926 when she practiced puppetry at the Pillsbury community Center, was there with her sister Naomi. Ann and Cedric Lindholm knew Irene from the puppetmaking classes she held at West High School. Irene had met Mildred Mitton a few years earlier and they had performed shows together.

Lem became the first President that evening of the TCP. The meetings were held monthly in the members homes, and the dues were 50 cents a year.
Lem worked with Nellie Fry, Irene Odegaard, Jan Woll, and Mary on the "Tinderbox" puppet show, that was built in his workshop, and performed a few times.
In 1942, Lem and Mary's son, Anthony (Tony) was born. After working with puppets as a child and teenager, he attended college, married Diane Johnson, and still has the Punch and Judy set of puppets that he and Mary performed with.
Lem was President of the P.of A. from 1942 to 1943, and again from 1943 to 1944. He served another term from 1945 to 1946, and was President of the TCP the same year.

Lem operated marionettes at the Vet's Hospital, through the Red cross. Mary also made marionettes and did the sewing, under the name Marlem Marionettes (Mary-Lem). They performed in schools and hospitals, and Mary performed her Punch and Judy shows for the St. Paul Junior League's Children's Theater. With over 100 marionettes, Lem performed for adults and Mary performed for children.
In 1950, the Puppeteers of America’s National Festival was held at Western College in Oxford, Ohio. Lem was the technical adviser and Mary did her Punch and Judy Show for one of the evening performances.
In 1951, Lem and Mary built a special set of Punch and Judy puppets that were featured at the Minnesota Historical Society exhibit, "A Century of Toys".
Their workshop in the basement, had grown larger and son Tony had his own section. He worked on an Uncle Remus show with small wooden marionettes. Lem would spend a hundred hours on a three foot marionette, and about 200 hours if the puppet had rolling eyes and a moving mouth.
Lem made many marionettes for himself and professional puppeteers in the United States, was a consultant for the P.of A., and was on the faculty of the "Institute of Puppetry" at the University of Minnesota, where his puppet-making son, Tony, appeared in his demonstrations.
Lem took a marionette (one was a popular Rhumba Dancer) along when making calls to other traffic managers.
In 1953, the P.of A. held their National Festival at the U.of M., and Lem co-chaired with John Shirley. Although Lem became ill, he still helped make the festival a success.
In 1954, he spent most of the year in the hospital, and then passed away.
Mary and Tony performed several Punch and Judy Shows in 1955. Tony made puppets over the next few years, and by 1958, he performed with Chris and MasSeal, his seal puppets, for the campaign against TB and for fund drives in schools. Tony was a Junior member of the P.of A., and performed "Pinocchio", at least one hundred times.
Mary was occasionally pictured in the newspaper with her puppets, and also worked at the Addressograph Department of the Minnesota TB and Health Association. Mary was one of the TCP members who signed, when our guild became a Chartered Guild of the P.of A. in 1962. She passed away in 1971.
Lem and Mary were friendly and talented members who were always willing to help anyone build puppets or props in their basement workshop.

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