John Williams passed away on September 27th, with his family around him, in the light of the harvest moon and the glory of the fall colours. John is survived by his wife Edith, brother Keith Williams (Isabelle), sister-in-law Margaret Williams, and step father Clifford Olson. He has 5 children, 11 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren: Toby Williams (Tony Stolz – daughter Silene), Dorothy Williams Reich (Harold Reich – sons Damian (Jennifer – Madyson and Savannah), Kolton (Bailey), and Brent), Elaine Williams Allin (David Allin – daughters Taylor and Erin), Nathan Gurel (Lucie Laprise – children Yannick, Shane, Karl (Elisa), Sarah-Jane, and Andrew), and Martin Williams (Doreen Williams – Eddie (Jeremiah and Ravyn)). John was predeceased by his parents John and Layne Williams and Ruby Olson, and his brothers Bruce and Lawrence.
John was born August 4, 1936 in Lacombe, Alberta. He grew up on the family farm northwest of Clive with 3 wild brothers: hunting, playing hockey, and farming. He attended school at Birch Lake, riding a pony for several miles to the school house. He lived for a short while in Edmonton when his parents divorced but quickly returned to the farm. He married Edith in 1961 and they started farming and raising kids together. The two of them had a mixed farm – at various times pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, geese, hay and grain - for more than 50 years. In the early days, he worked off the farm in the oil patch. John liked animals, hunting, fishing, being outside, and working. He could fix anything.
John was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in his late twenties, when he had 3 little kids and a growing farm. At a time when everyone died of this disease, he survived. He refused to die because he had to take care of his family. That was the spirit that defined his life.
John and Edith were life partners in every sense.
Family was always the priority. The Williams kids knew they were loved, and grew up with the security of a large extended family surrounding them. But in the Williams home, family was more than just blood. Together, John and Edith welcomed many young people into their home, and John took a lot of pleasure and pride in the way he mentored those young people. Too numerous to name here, they each held a special place in John’s heart. As the kids grew up, the next generation arrived. John was proud of all the grandkids and loved them to spend time on the farm. Teaching the boys the business of farming and passing on his love of farming was his passion, and this never wavered.
John and Edith were stalwarts in the sheep industry in Alberta. John had purebred Dorset sheep and Edith raised purebred Suffolks. At various times they both sat on industry associations and committees. In 1995, they were recognized by the Canadian Sheep Breeders Association and in 2009, they were recognized by the Alberta Sheep Breeders Association with the Good Shepherd Award. 2005 brought them the Alberta Centennial Award honouring Outstanding Albertans. John and Edith made life-long friendships within the sheep community.
If you talk about John, you have to talk about community. From horseshoe tournaments to family dances and bingo nights, Scott School was the centre of the community that John loved. Rare was there a pancake supper without John wielding a flipper, and his breakfasts at the Poker Rally were legendary. His devotion was returned, and he counted many, many dear friends from the Scott community and surrounding area.
In 2006, John was diagnosed with another lymphoma. Once again, his sheer stubborn will to live surfaced. While his health had ups and downs through the next years, he continued to enjoy life to his fullest. He died on September 27, 2015 at 79 years of age – still on the farm and still checking the crops with his O2 machine in tow. We will miss him, we will always love him, and his legacy will live on.
If you would like to, please make a donation in John’s memory to The Lending Cupboard in Red Deer or a charity of your choice.
A Memorial Service will be held Monday, October 12 at 1:30 pm at the Ponoka Drop In Centre, 5015-46 Avenue, Ponoka.