Polly Williams - sad news

Posted on February 11, 2008 by Lauren Greenfield

Hi everyone,
It is with great sadness that I impart the news that Polly has passed away. She was an extraordinary woman with unforgettable gifts and she will live on in our memories and our hearts. In her short life, she touched more people than most people do in their lifetime and I know she was very proud of the contribution she made in the eating disorder community.

I will miss her terribly.

I send my best wishes and condoleances to her family and friends. I have reprinted below the obituary from her local newspaper in case anyone wants to send flowers or make a donation on her behalf.

Lauren Greenfield

From Johnson City Press Newspaper...

Pollack Williams - HIXSON
HIXSON ? Pollack ?Polly? Ann Williams, age 33, of 1421 Cloverdale Dr., Hixson, Tennessee, died Friday, February 8, 2008, at her residence.

Polly was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and had lived most of her life in Johnson City, Tennessee. She was the daughter of Susan Lancaster Rule and George Alex Williams II. Her stepfather was Jim Rule.

Polly was a graduate of University High School in Johnson City, where she was a member of the Academic Decathlon that was ranked third in the nation. She graduated with honors from Virginia Tech, where she majored in English with a concentration in Shakespearean studies and a minor in communications. While at Virginia Tech she was a member of Kappa Delta Sorority. She remained an avid Virginia Tech ?Hokie.?

Polly had been featured in Lauren Greenfield?s HBO documentary THIN. She was also a lobbyist for the National Eating Disorders Association.

Polly loved children and butterflies. She used her love for children in her work photographing children for LifeTouch studios with JC Penney Company. She received recognition for her photography by becoming the district event coordinator in Hixson LifeTouch Studios and by winning manager of the month, sales average achievement award and was featured in JC Penney?s master gallery photography book.

Her sisters remember that her life motto was simply ?Believe.?

She is survived by her mother and step-father, Susan and Jim Rule, of Johnson City; her father, Alex Williams, of Gray; her maternal grandparents, Barbara and Hanes Lancaster; her fraternal grandmother, Isabel Daniels Williams, all of Johnson City; three sisters, Bebe W. Reed and her husband, Bo, of Cartersville, Georgia, Susan Staley W. Smith and her husband, Wayne, of Winder, Georgia, Betsy Williams, of Knoxville, Tennessee; and a stepsister, Courtney Rule Williams and her husband, Richard, of Johnson City. She is also survived by adored nieces and nephews, Madison Reed, Trey Reed, Staley Reed, Brackin Smith, Reed Smith, Lilly Ann Smith and Emma Williams.

Funeral services for Ms Williams will be held Monday at 8:00 PM at Morris-Baker Funeral Home South Chapel. Rev. Larry Nees will officiate. The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 6 until 8 PM. Graveside services and burial will be at Monte Vista Memorial Park at 10 AM on Tuesday. Family and friends are asked to meet at the cemetery.

For those who wish to make contributions in memory of Polly, the family suggests National Eating Disorders at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

Condolences may be sent to the family via www.morrisbaker.com.

Arrangements are by Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 2001 Oakland Ave., Johnson City, TN 37601. Phone: (423) 282-1521.



February 11, 2008 by Kate
This is so sad. I can't imagine what her family and friends must be going through. She did touch SO many lives. It's a shame to see her leave us at such a young age.

February 11, 2008 by Katherine
Thank you, Lauren, for looking into this. I was stunned to read about it on another website.

My condolences to the Williams family, especially her nieces and nephews. Polly mentioned them often.

Suicide is a serious issue and it seems, extremely high in the eating disorder world. It's saddens me that Polly didn't feel deserving of life. May she rest in peace.

February 11, 2008 by mamaV
Hi Lauren: Polly added such an interesting element of style and personality to THIN; courageous, tough and all consuming.

The rebel, the rule breaker, the one we all secretly wish we were a bit more like. She was fun and enthusiastic, amidst all the torture she was suffering inside.

Polly rests now. Thank you for letting us all get to know her,

February 11, 2008 by Anonynmous
How did this happen? I am shocked.

February 11, 2008 by Kensington
Thank you, Lauren, for bringing Polly into our lives. Your film is amazing & I have often thought of the women featured in it long after I last viewed it.

Administrator, Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders
San Antonio, TX

February 11, 2008 by Jenna
We used to talk on myspace. This is such a terrible shock. How did it happen? :(

February 11, 2008 by Emily
im so upset 2 hear that polly has died-- she is such a fantastic woman-- im in complete shock that she is gone.

RIP Polly- u will be missed so much

Emily xx

February 11, 2008 by Katii
reading that just made me cry...

RIP Polly

February 11, 2008 by Tatiana
I am so incredibly sad to hear this... I can't believe Polly is gone. :(

May she rest in peace.

February 12, 2008 by Kara
You were taken too soon.
rest in peace....
You are loved!


February 12, 2008 by Tammy
I am hearing so many rumors. Does anyone know how she died? I don't know it's going to be a question that haunts me until it is answered.

February 12, 2008 by concerned
This is so sad. RIP.

Since most of the people who come here and read this either have struggled or are still struggling, I just wanted to say please do not let this get you thinking that suicide is the answer. What has happened might make it seem more okay or something to some people, but it really really isn't. It might seem weird that I am writing this, but sometimes this kind of situation can lead others to thinking about doing the same thing. Please do not do anything impulsive. Please keep fighting. If that seems too much right now, then just keep being. That is all you have to do. No matter how bad things seem, eventually they will improve. It might take a very long time, but it's worth it. God wants you to fight. It's all worth it.

February 12, 2008 by lisa
as lauren mentioned there is an online tribute to P.A. at Morris Baker. P.A.s service was on Monday 11th at 8pm because i live in Australia and i only recieved the news Monday (sadly i did not check my email over the weekend) i could not fly to TN to say goodbye. But, her sister Staley informed me that there is a slide show from the funeral home at www.MorrisBaker.com, the slideshow is currently only being kept open for 30days. i would love it if someone can pay the $79 for a peminant tribue to P.A. or if someone could pay the yearly ammount of $29
it is not clear that the overdose was intentional. just because someone has a drug overdose does not mean it was deliberate. i realise polly was struggling with a bit recently. but, things were improving she gained a new position at work, her hand was getting more movement and the brace came off. so, i wish to think it was accidentle (well i more like to not think about it).
please write a comment to her family at www.MorrisBaker.com they would truely appriciate it


hey polly
i miss you chicky
i should of phoned you more over the past couple of months
thankyou for the crazy socks you sent me from time to time
i hope you wore the crazy headscalves i sent you on a frequent basis
i wish i could tap on the images of you and that would breathe life into you
but i know you are gone in body but not in spirit
i have been thinking i may get a little butterfly or the neda symbol to go next to my little dragonfly on my hipbone - you would be stoaked about that
love you chicky!!! xoxo

February 12, 2008 by Sunflower
I'm sad and shocked.

Sad that another life is gone. Polly seemed to be such a special person. A person I'd would have liked to know "in real". An interesting person that was so much more than just another person with an ED.

I don't know if the roumours about suicide are true... I just took a look at Polly's CaringBridge-site... She really had to battle some obstacles...
IF it was suicide: I'm sad she has given up on herself. That's even sadder than "just" dying from an ED...

It took me more than 15 years to recover from my ED (atypical AN). I finally manged to do it in my early thirties. I'm also suffering some severe medical problems (not ED related) which make life frustrating sometimes. It's simply NOT the life I had hoped for during recovery.

What I want to say (while fully respecting a person's decision): Don't give up on yourself. Recovery is possible even after many failed therapy attempts. And problems can be dealt with without turning to the ED.

Rest in peace, Polly... :-(

February 12, 2008 by Tracey Z
In The Arms Of The Angels. . .


I know your suffering. I've been there too. May you find the peace now that you never found in life. If only you could have seen your beauty and intelligence and influence. You moved so many. Rest now, the fight's over.

For the rest of you:
Don't give up. There is a light on the other side. I made it there. It's worth the fight. I know you get so TIRED, but keep going. You will smile again. It's worth the wait.

Love to all of you who struggle,

February 12, 2008 by katy
yes, there is a beautiful photo tribute at www.morrisbaker.com . her funeral was last night, and she was laid to rest this morning. many, many people came to say goodbye... the chapel was overflowing. polly had such an impact on so many people - much more than her family ever knew until this weekend. you can read others' condolences and tributes on her caringbridge site - http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/daileegirl - and at the morris-baker website.

please, do not do the same. reach out. ask for help. FIGHT. don't leave this world before your time. it's hard, it's tiring, it's frustrating. but it's also incredibly WORTH IT in the end. things will get better.

February 13, 2008 by Michele M
I am so sad to hear about Polly's passing. I am huge fan of the show and I wished the girl the best. I use the show Thin in a report I did last semester about yuong girls and eating disorders.
My prayers go out to Polly's family and friends.

February 13, 2008 by Rachel
I heard about this and I wanted to say how sad this is. RIP Polly. Prayers to her friends and family.

I guess this was a shock for me, but it's a definate reminder that eating disorders do kill. Something I need to be reminded of. Let's hope that we can gain something good out of this as sad as it is. Motivation to recover, motivation to fight, to raise awarness. I know this has motivated me to take a look at where my ED is taking me.

RIP polly

February 13, 2008 by Amy
im so sad and stunned. RIP Polly, you were loved more than you know.


February 13, 2008 by katy
p.s. lisa, her slideshow will be up for the next year now.

February 13, 2008 by kate
it really touched me,
yesterday i watched again 'thin' and today i read this.
i can't believe it happened.

i hope Polly now you're in better place

February 14, 2008 by Alex
I just wanted to say that learning about Polly's untimely death is like being struck by a lightning bolt. Nevertheless, her image continues to haunt me to remind me that there is always hope. Even if the rumors that talk about a possible suicide, I am sure she subconciously wants her friends and supporters to fight on. Let her messages all over the internet and on the Thin documentary be a guide for not just all sufferers of eating disorders, but for everyone. Polly, I thank you for all the tools you have given me to cope with my anorexia and anxiety. Your words have, and will continue to serve me well. If there is any regret that I feel or have felt, its that I never had a chance to contact you or meet you in person. I consider you the big sister I never had. To her family: I have and feel only the deepest respect for what your daughter has done for all of society around the globe. I feel she has inspired so many and so much. May she rest in peace in the palm of the heavens...

February 14, 2008 by Palmtreechick

Polly spoke so highly of you. I was just reading some of her old blog posts of when she was going down to TX to meet up with. I was on the phone with her as she sat in the airport, as her flight was delayed.

I know she respected you as a person and as a photographer. I'm just thinking about the crazy stories she told me about that trip and it's making me smile.

I miss that girl! She was definitely one of a kind.

February 15, 2008 by Jesika Beth
This is truly a tragedy. I never met Polly, nor had I ever spoken with her, but I did see THIN. I am a Renfrew Alumni, as well as a suicide attempt survivor. It saddens me to know that Polly had no energy left for believe that life would be fufilling, or even worth living. I can only hope that Polly is in peace now. To echo what others have said, suicide is not the answer. There is hope, and recovery does happen. I struggled with an eating disorder for over a decade, self injury for sixteen years, and drug abuse for about five years. Today, I am competely recovered, and work at letting others know there is complete recovery. I think back to when I was sick, before - during - after treatment, even my suicide attempt, and it is truly disheartening because I never imagined life could be even a fraction of what it is, today. There is a fine line between those of us who make it, and those who don't. Polly's untimely passing is a reminder of that. My thoughts and sympathies are with Polly, Polly's family, and those out there who are suffering. Life truly is there for the embracing. Take care of you !

February 15, 2008 by Triksie
My condolences to all who knew her. I hope that she has finally found peace. She will remain an inspiration to me.


February 16, 2008 by J Abbott
I think it is very important to mention that Polly posted to her CaringBridge web page on the night of her death and it gave absolutely no indication of her suffering any dispair or desire to hasten her demise. I think it is important for the media to be more careful about naming drastic causes of a person's death - especially when obvious information to the contrary is so readily available to anyone seeking it out.

February 18, 2008 by S
I am sorry to hear of her death. She had such a nice personality. I had her added sa a friend on myspace. I tried to get in touch with the other main girls from the THIN documentary too. She and Britanny were the only ones who I could add.
She had such a nice smile and brought suh an aura to everyone around her. She was fun to be arround for the girls in the documentary. I hopw the best for her and her family and her friends.
-- S

February 26, 2008 by Barbara
I am truely shocked and saddened by Polly's passing. I offer all my prayers and condolences to her family and friends.

February 28, 2008 by Chelbee
I just heard about Polly's death today. I didn't know her personally but saw the film and related so much to her ... When I read that she took her own life, it hit me hard as if I was losing someone I knew. Maybe it's because I could understand her pain. I am lighting a candle for her tonight and hoping that she has finally found peace. My love goes out to her friends and family.

February 28, 2008 by shana
Thin is truly a representation of the world of eating disorders. Sadly, more people who suffer from eating disorders (anorexia in particular) will die as a result of their ailment than any other psychiatric disorder. I believe it is one in five anorexics who die from their disease.

People can die from heart attacks or other physical ailments due to prolonged starvation or electrolyte imbalance...accidents due to preoccupation or low blood sugar...or suicide, or death by substance abuse (such as unintentional overdosing). Overeaters can develop long-term complications of the heart or diabetes and die from those ailments.

But let's make one thing clear- in memory of Polly- in honor of her life and her message- let's all learn from this- this disease KILLS PEOPLE. Polly, unfortunately, was a victim of this tragedy. In her short life she seemed to be a fighter, a spitfire, a live wire. The kind of person who I would enjoy befriending, the kind of person who is (was) a fighter. And this disease was strong, perhaps even stronger than she was.

The loss of such a person is something that will impact many lives, not only for the people who knew her in real life and knew her from THIN, but for all the people whose lives she is now unable to touch. She might have had 50 more years here to do all sorts of wonderful things, but not anymore.

Death solves nothing for those left behind. It's an ache that will never go away. There is something good in everyone's life, something worth living for (besides fitting into those small jeans again). Each one of us is here for a specific purpose, created by a force/power greater than ourselves who can and will show mercy and hope and compassion if called upon.

This evil disease will take everything it can take from a person- even a strong person- even your own life. Please take away from this the knowledge that it could (and possibly will) be any of us lying in the grave over this disease. It won't go away on its own.

No matter how hard it gets, keep fighting, and seek out support. God bless all and I am so sorry to the family and friends of Polly. In her short life she reached many, many people and her message will continue to live on.

March 29, 2008 by Sophie
I am so sorry to all trapped in the world of eating disorders, for Polly was a bright candle of light for us all. Polly, your light didn't deserve to be blown out by this terrible illness. Ever since I saw you in Lauren's documentary, I knew I had found someone who shared such a similar struggle not only with anorexia but with the longing for acceptance and the frustration to be understood. You were caring, loving, understanding and strong for so many people. I'm just so sorry you couldn't hold enough strength for yourself. Though I never met you, I love you very much and will miss you. Rest in peace...the shiniest stars belong in the sky.
All my love
"And if you were with me tonight, I'd sing to you just one more time. A song for a heart so big, God couldn't let it live. May angels lead you in, hear you me my friend. On sleepless roads the sleepless go. May angels lead you in..." - Hear You Me, Jimmy Eat World

February 26, 2009 by Holly
I lived with Polly for a while. It's too sad and i cannot type a lot, but babe you will be missed. You changed me in a way that only you could understand. I am still fighting the battle but i will not forget to "believe". I only wish i had the chance to say goodbye. I will always cherish and remember our crazy times and our honey pretzel sticks. I love you :)

October 29, 2011 by Kerri Higgins
I am a grandmother who has fought an eating disorder since the 1970's. For a long time I rode a feeling of comfort that no one suspects ME, this is a disease of young girls. I knew the truth tho, and I have watched it all unfold from something that had no name, to the death of Karen Carpenter and the pulling of the diseases of Anorexia Nervosa, then Bulimia, then ED's, kicking and screaming into the light of common knowledge. This madness highjacks every thought in our disordered heads, the image of the thinness we must maintain and the eternal count of calories consumed enblazoned behind our eyeballs like the after image of a lightening strike. This disease is taking the brightest and the best of us. And you, Polly Williams with your brilliance, honesty, strength, beauty, and compassion were like a beacon in the night. With the blur of tears I say goodnight sweet princess.