University of Saskatchewan
Room 2D27 - 51 Campus Drive
Saskatoon SK S7N 5A8

Red Williams

WILLIAMS, Charles Melville (Red) C.M., S.O.M., Ph.D., F.A.I.C 1925 - 2018

posted: May 26, 2018
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With heavy hearts we announce the passing of our father, grandfather and hero, Red Williams on March 26, 2018 at Veterans' Village, Sherbrooke Community Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Dad was born in Regina on March 18, 1925; he was the only child of Percy and Lottie, (née Macdonald), who were farming near Richardson, SK at that time. Percy had come from Ontario on one of the "grain trains" looking for work and Lottie, from Prince Edward Island to teach school. The family moved to Shamrock, SK. where Dad, then known as Chad, started school. Over the years they worked and farmed near Lethbridge and Calgary, AB. Dad often said how fortunate he was to have had such kind and gentle parents.

Dad enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy in February 1942 while living in Calgary. He took his basic training in Ottawa and was initially drafted to Dartmouth, NS before sailing overseas to join the HMCS Sioux, his home for the duration of the war. The Sioux sailed in the Atlantic and in Arctic convoys to Murmansk, a northern port in Russia. The Sioux was the first Canadian Navy Ship present on D-Day.

After returning to Canada in 1945, Dad, now nicknamed Red, resumed his education, studying at the University of British Columbia and Oregon State University. In 1954, with his Ph.D. in hand, Dad came to the University of Saskatchewan where he began a career that lasted 60 years. Dad seemed to have a limitless supply of energy, maintaining a workload throughout his life that would exhaust two ordinary mortals. He travelled the highways and back roads of Saskatchewan as well as around the world. Dad was incredibly generous of his time and expertise and was a key member of the Liberal Party of Canada, worked forthe United Nations, and sat on the Boards of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, and Sherbrooke Community Centre, among others -all this while teaching at the University, and recording a daily radio spot, "Food for Thought".Dad never really retired. He kept his pace up throughout his seventies and eighties, serving as Professor Emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan and keeping an office in the College of Agriculture until the age of 89. A passionate news hound, he maintained a keen interest in scienceand current events, devouring two daily newspapers and professional periodicals right to the end.

He received the Order of Canada in 1978 and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2002. In 2016, Dad was knighted for his service to France on D-Day and became a Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour. He will be lovingly remembered by his three children, Al Williams (JoAnn Organ) of Mount Pearl, NL, Catherine Williams/Greer of Saskatoon, SK, Elaine Wass (Alan) of Vancouver, BC and by his grandchildren, Olivia Cooper (d.1977), Rebecca Wass, Alison Wass, and John Greer.

The family would like to thank Dr. Paul Taillon for his extraordinary care, and the amazing team at Co-op Stonebridge Pharmacy as well as the nurses, CCA's and staff of Veterans' Village, Sherbrooke Community Centre for their care and compassion. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Sherbrooke Community Foundation, 401 Acadia Drive, Saskatoon, SK S7H 2E7, or The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Saskatchewan Branch, 2217 Hanselman Ct, Saskatoon, SK S7L 6A8 or a charity of your choice. A Celebration of Life will take place at a later date

Charles Melville “Red” Williams, Mar. 18, 1925 - Mar. 26, 2018
Written by : Dave Christensen ’58 C

Red retired from his faculty position at the U of S in 1991, but as professor emeritus retained his office, and remained active full time until a few years ago. He usually took Sunday afternoon off and rarely missed a Huskies football game. He was the An. Sc. Dept. head for 8 years, but declined several invitations to apply for Dean positions.. He taught for over of 60 years, receiving teaching awards from both Diploma and Degree students.

When Red was born, the Williams family was on a farm at Richardson SK, then moved to Shamrock SK, and onto Lethbridge and Calgary. Red joined the RCN in1942 at 17 as a volunteer reservist, then the regular service when he turned 18. He served on HMCS Sioux, a fleet class destroyer, guarding convoys in the North Atlantic. The Sioux was the first ship at Juno beach as documented by a German photo located in the Canadian War Museum.
After World War 2 he completed high school, then obtained BSA and MSc degrees at UBC, then his PhD at Oregon State. His letter of recommendation from the Dean at UBC for grad work at Oregon read in part, “Williams has great academic potential but would benefit from less time debating with fellow students and faculty, and more time in the library”
Red was hired as an assistant professor in Animal Husbandry at the U of S in 1955. One of his first high profile activities was to introduce the concept of cross breeding of beef cattle to western Canada, for this the beef industry and Provincial government wanted him fired; “Don’t mess with our perfect pure breeds”, though now the practice is universal. He was invited to a world conference in Rio de Janeiro to give a presentation on the subject. Red was instrumental in establishing the performance testing of beef bulls, attached to the new Department of Animal Science Feedlot in the mid-60s.

His science contributions included research on the dwarf gene in Herefords, and on bull fertility, he co-authored three classic papers on low temperature effects on dairy cattle, and was involved in the development of the 20% porosity fence for feedlots. He wrote columns for weekly newspaper for 35 years, did a daily radio show until several years ago, and emailed a Monday Morning Memo on current issues to over 300 recipients until January 2018. He probably spoke in every town in Saskatchewan and many in other provinces, piloting his own plane from town to town; only once did he admit he flew to the wrong town. He took part in over 30 international development projects, mainly in Africa and Asia. When he was on a CIDA project in a remote village hotel in China a phone call came in for him at 2 am. The clerk was reluctant to connect the call until it was made clear that it was from the Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien.

He had an outstanding ability to connect with a wide range of people from undergrads to Prime Ministers. He would eat lunch with the undergrads, sharing a pot of tea, stories and philosophy. Students remained important to him. When he retired he set up a substantial endowment fund to go to the Department to support students in any way when he died. He supported First Nation livestock development projects on several reserves. To facilitate this he spent two terms attempting to learn Cree.
Red could quote a great deal of poetry from memory, had a decent singing voice and a memorable collection of songs. He was advisor to provincial premiers, and provincial and federal Ministers of Agriculture and three Prime Minister, including the current one. Before he was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would stop in Saskatoon to see Red and they would go to the Cave for dinner. Red and wife Pat had three children, a son, Allan, now in eastern Canada and two daughters, Cathy in Saskatoon, and Elaine in BC.

Red William’s legacy is his positive influence on people, and the development of organizations, concepts and policies beyond agriculture. He once said his life spanned “steam engines to GPS”. A close friend once said Red’s life was described in a verse by Louis Untermeyer.

Ever insurgent let me be
Make me more daring than devout
From sleek contentment keep me free
And fill me with a buoyant doubt

Other activities.
Development of CARC, Canadian Agricultural Research Council; A Founder of the Canadian Council on Animal Care; Founding member and Chair of CUSO; Chaired the Saskatoon Symphony Board; Chaired the Sherbrooke Community Centre Board; President of Saskatchewan and National Liberal Parties; Co-Founded Saskatchewan Agrivision Corporation.

Awards include:
Member, Order of Canada
Saskatchewan Order of Merit
Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame
Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor

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There was the day in class, the spring of '86. I think, that I asked a simple question off a comment by Red concerning goats. "Are ruminants the only animals that can..." Red interrupted and went on to explain all the fascinating abilities ruminants have of processing food.

By chewing cud, thereby ingesting more saliva into the gut, thereby enabling the digestive system to make a much better use of anything the animal devours. The proper explanation of this subject took several minutes of class time, at the end of which Red demanded to know who asked "This stupid question?" I raised my hand. Red proceeded to tell the class I had just wasted their time, but I had to interject. All I wanted to ask was whether ruminants were the only animals that are able to chew cud. A curt "Yes" was all he said to my actual question. A few years later, my father came to visit from Ontario.

Dad was one of the first dairy farmers in Canada to build a barn around the freestall/milking parlour system, and was prominently involved when the dairy Marketing Boards were first established in the '60's. We accidentally bumped into Red when I was giving Dad a tour of the campus dairy facilities and the beautiful Stone Barn.

My sort of misfortune was introducing them, for then I had to hang around for over near two hours while Dad and Red had a long discussion over the merits of supply management (which Red was not a proponent of}. Over the years, when I went to visit, Dad would always ask after Red, and remind me that was the best discussion he'd ever had.

Ewald Lammerding   |   Saskatoon, SK   |   Teacher/ Student    |   Oct 31, 2022

I am grandchild of dorthy Greenman Williams... I remember chad when I was a child I always got excited to see him when he would come visit my grandmother and her sister when my great aunt would come to visit us from Calgary... I always loved chads stories when I was a kid even the stories of him picking up hitch hikers

Chris Greenman   |   Saskatoon    |   Family    |   Feb 28, 2021