ST. PETERSBURG — She was the one to organize street games in her neighborhood.
She was the one all the other girls followed around. She was the one who baked little cakes and cookies in her pink Easy Bake Oven. And she was the one to delegate official taste-testing duties to her older brother.
She was always the leader.
"She had this take-charge thing, this leadership ability," said her brother, George Solomon. "Some people are born with it."
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Lorian Williams, a businesswoman and former vice chairwoman of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, died Wednesday after a battle with inflammatory breast cancer. She was 46.
She grew up in Jacksonville with six siblings. In high school, she was a popular cheerleader and a member of an exclusive social club for girls. At Florida State University, she was president of the minority business student group and honored on the homecoming court, her family said.
"She was fun," said her brother, Robert Solomon. "She was always a delight. You knew when she was around. She commanded attention. She was someone that believed in setting plans and following through on her plans."
She wanted to be her own boss. As she would put it, she didn't want to be a bricklayer — she wanted to own the brick company.
After college, she moved to St. Petersburg to work for Florida Power Corp., where she stayed 10 years before earning a master's degree. In 1994, she founded Chaslo Merchandise & Promotions, a merchandising and printing firm that also hosted events like the annual Millionaire "Herstory" Brunch aimed to celebrate black female business owners.
Ms. Williams chaired the Black Business Consortium of Tampa Bay and was executive director of the St. Petersburg Area Black Chamber of Commerce. With the chamber, she helped plan events like mixers and parties geared at getting African-Americans interested in joining the hospitality industry.
She served on the St. Petersburg Housing Authority for years, partially amid a contentious period where the board's management was audited. But authority chief executive Darrell Irions said Ms. Williams had high standards and a generous personality.
"Her friendship was true friendship," he said. "Her support for me was honest. When I came here from Chicago and didn't know anybody and couldn't grasp things that were occurring around me and I felt like I was out there on a limb by myself, I'd always turn and she was right beside me. I think St. Petersburg's shining light is going to dim a lot with her passing."
Her family figures that she could have excelled at politics. But she poured herself into her business and raising her 17-year-old son, Chas. He accompanied her to events she hosted, spinning music under the name DJ Shure Fire.
"She adored him," said Robert Solomon. "He also saw his mom as a community leader and as an organizer and prided himself on that. In fact, a lot of her characteristics and traits, I see in him."
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She had a mammogram in March. It came back negative, so she kept up her busy schedule. Then one day, she collapsed. Doctors discovered the breast cancer, an aggressive, fast-spreading type.
She moved back to Jacksonville to be with her family. She put up a strong fight and kept her personality intact, they said, telling her brothers to talk to the hand when they teased her.
Ms. Williams went peacefully in her sleep, the family said. They're happy her pain is over, and she's somewhere better, said her brother, George Solomon.
"She might be up there trying to take charge," he said.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8857.