Red Williams dies at 93

The Saskatchewan professor spearheaded advances in livestock care

Memorial services will be held “at a later date” for renowned Prairie animal science professor, Charles “Red” Williams, who died March 26 at age 93 leaving a legacy of work in livestock care and ag extension.

Williams, born in Regina and raised on farms in Saskatchewan and Alberta, served in the Second World War on the HMCS Sioux, credited as the first Allied ship to approach Juno Beach on D-Day.

Williams returned to his studies after the war and by 1954 had joined the University of Saskatchewan as an assistant professor of animal science.

By 1965 Williams was a full professor and senior extension specialist, and headed the university’s animal and poultry science department from 1975 to 1983.

Williams’ leadership on animal care “resulted in continual upgrading of federal legislation on the handling and transporting of livestock,” according to the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in 1996.

Williams “supervised students in studies of windbreaks, overhead shelters and straw bedding in support of the growing feedlot industry,” the hall of fame said, also noting his studies on the effects of loose housing on dairy cattle, differences of hair coats of beef breeds, and nutrition for bison.

The hall noted Williams risked unpopularity when publicizing dwarfism in beef cattle and that he took criticism “initially” for statements he made on crossbreeding and the Crow rate for grain transportation.

According to his family in his obituary, Williams “travelled the highways and back roads of Saskatchewan as well as around the world,” and “was incredibly generous of his time and expertise,” visiting almost two dozen countries on technical aid missions.

At home, Williams also promoted commercial agriculture on Saskatchewan’s reserves and in 1970 became a special adviser to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians (now the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations), later helping develop the Saskatchewan Indian Agricultural Program.

He was also known for his “colourful speaking style” at hundreds of farmer conferences, the hall said; he also produced newspaper columns and daily radio segments under the name “Food for Thought.” After retirement he remained a professor emeritus and kept an office at the U of S up until age 89.

Williams was named to the Order of Canada in 1988, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2002 and, for his wartime service, France’s Legion of Honour in 2016.

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