Red Williams lived a full life and his influence was felt in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and around the world.
Charles M. (Red) Williams was born near Regina in 1925 and enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II. He was on a destroyer that provided covering fire for the troops during D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history.
After the war, Williams earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science at the Univerisity of British Columbia. He completed his PhD at Oregon State University before coming to the University of Saskatchewan in 1954.
Williams taught at the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Animal and Poultry Science for more than 50 years.
Dr. Mary Buhr, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, says it’s an end of an era with his passing.
“He retired in 1991, but he only stopped coming into the College every day about three years ago.”
Buhr says Williams was an active teacher and researcher, who was known nationally and globally for his work in animal reproduction, particularly cattle.
“He was one of the initiators of artificial insemination in cattle.”
David Christenson knew Williams as both a student and teaching colleague.
“My first recollection of Red was when I was an undergrad student and he used to make tea for us at lunch time. The animal science students would sit around and chat with him.”
Red used to say that during his lifetime, we went from steam engines to combines and GPS.
Williams was well-known for his extension work, speaking at many meetings in rural Saskatchewan.
“He was a licensed pilot for many years,” says Christensen. “He would fly into a town, do his talk and be back in the air and off to the next town.”
CJWW Saskatoon aired his radio commentary program on a regular basis in the 1990’s and 2000’s.
Williams was a tireless promoter and supported many agriculture, environment and water related projects.
He was also involved in overseas development, participating in 30 projects through the Canadian International Development Agency.
Red was a life-long Liberal and was very influential, often being asked for advice by various premiers and agriculture ministers. Christensen provides this anecdote about a phone call Williams received while on a development project in rural China.
“The hotel received a phone call for Dr. Red Williams. The hotel clerk told the caller that maybe we shouldn’t bother him because it was two o’clock in the morning. The caller suggested that the clerk wake him up because it was Prime Minister Chretien who wanted to speak to him.”
Williams received many awards and honors over his lifetime, including the Order of Canada, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and a fellow in the Agricultural Institute of Canada.
There will be a celebration of Red William’s life this summer and an obituary will be posted in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on Thursday.