Army Research Laboratory employee's legacy of giving honored by fellow colleagues

February 04, 2015

By Jenna Brady, ARL Public Affairs

If there is one word that could be used to describe Monica Byrd-Williams, it would be compassionate.

It was not unusual to find the long-time U.S. Army Research Laboratory employee and proud veteran of the U.S. Army at the aid of others, or organizing various charitable events in support of schools, organizations and families local to her duty station at the Army Research Office located in Durham, North Carolina.

This was especially true of Byrd-Williams during the holiday season.

Each year around November, she would contact friends, family members and coworkers to let them know of her plans for various events that she had in the works.

Most years, Byrd-Williams would collect gift cards to hand out to less fortunate families so they could buy food and presents for their children.

Last year, for her 60th birthday party, Byrd-Williams held a fundraiser for a local inner-city high school, where each of the invitees was asked to bring items to donate in support of the school.

The group was able to collect materials such as paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, calculators and gift cards for the teachers who typically spend their own money for supplies.

Most recently, during this past holiday season, Byrd-Williams expressed interest in holding a coat drive.

Sadly, on November 24, 2014, Byrd-Williams passed away, before planning for the coat drive was able to get off the ground.

After the passing of Byrd-Williams, her close friend and fellow ARL employee Carla Davis decided that the coat drive still needed to take place in celebration of Monica's life and her never-ending willingness to help those in need.

With the support of ARO Director Dr. David Skatrud, ARO employees came through, donating about 100 new and gently used coats in honor of Monica's memory and spirit of giving.

Davis then donated the coats to the Durham Rescue Mission, the city's oldest and largest long-term homeless shelter.

"Monica was a very giving person. She had done so much already, but wanted to do so much more," said Davis.

"One of the last weekends in November that we spent shopping, we talked about collecting clothes, purses and toiletries for women who needed these items for job interviews. We also talked on the phone the Saturday before her death. She wanted to know where to buy a cooked turkey for one of her mother's neighbors. Monica wanted this family to have a turkey on Thanksgiving and their oven had stopped working," Davis added.

"One of the last things she said to me was "Here I go again, trying to help somebody."

No matter what it took to get it done, Byrd-Williams always made it a point to give back to those who needed it most, and it is that selfless approach to life that her family, friends and colleagues will honor and remember her by for years to come.


The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is the nation's premier laboratory for land forces and is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it. For more information, visit, follow @ArmyResearchLab on Twitter and follow the lab on Facebook at


Last Update / Reviewed: February 4, 2015