Love blooms at the Hall of Fame


Rosa Joyner Steele, left, dances with her fiance Tony Williams as Milton Bullock, back right, performs during the 'Singing Along with Milton for Christmas' event on Dec. 20 at the Helen P. Gay Rocky Mount Historic Train Station.


Staff Writer

Thursday, December 28, 2017

It is a 2017 Edgecombe County love story worthy of the Twin County Hall of Fame, where this love was born.

Last week, Tony Williams, a resident of the Edgecombe County side of Rocky Mount, and Rosa Joyner Steele, a Tarboro resident, could be seen dancing cheek-to-cheek at the Milton Bullock sing-a-long event at the Helen P. Gay Rocky Mount Train Station where the Twin County Hall of Fame Museum is housed. Their love story is a spark of hope among the darker deeds in the Twin Counties this year, but it is a story that almost ended before it took root.

Williams, 65, first met Steele, 68, at a Twin Counties Hall of Fame event on April 9. He and “his Rosa” began to keep company at times throughout that spring and summer. But the full measure of their love was tested when tragedy struck in September.

About 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 25, Williams was working out on a treadmill at the Harrison Family YMCA when his heart rate dropped dangerously low and Williams passed out. Williams remembers nothing of the next few hours, but said he was told that he flat-lined for 10 minutes. Nash County first responders administered CPR and fractured some of his ribs through the intensity of their efforts. But they managed to save him.

“I don’t know who these workers were. I only know one was a fireman and one was a military man, but they saved my life and I am grateful,” Williams said.

Williams said he was told that he was transported to the Nash UNC Health Care Emergency Department and then life-flighted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, where he spent the next eight days.

“When I woke up, Rosa was there. She stayed with me the whole eight days,” Williams said.

When he came home, Williams’s recovery from his near-death experience went more smoothly than he dared hope.

“Really, it was because of the blessing of God and because of my Rosa,” Williams said.

Williams decided that the evidence of such devotion merited a grand gesture on his part, so when the Twin County Hall of Fame inducted nine new members at an induction dinner on Nov. 9, Williams asked the organizers to allow him a few extra minutes at the end of the ceremony. His wish was granted.

There, at the Twin County Hall of Fame Induction Dinner, in front of about 400 area residents, Williams proposed to “his Rosa.”

“Of course I said yes,” Steele said.

Williams and Steele welcome this chance at romance at a time in their lives when most people are settling down to more mundane activities. The pair plans to marry in the spring at City Lake. 

But there is no question as to where the reception will be held: at the Rocky Mount Train Station, where the Twin County Hall of Fame Museum is housed. And where romance began for two area lovers in the autumn of their lives.