In Memoriam – John F.R. Williams, C.A. Remembered

With sadness and great love, the family announces the passing of John on February 8, 2014 at Princess Margaret Hospital after a valiant battle, bravely fought.

John was an accomplished professional, avid golfer, lover of history, music, art, fine wine, collector of memorabilia and community volunteer. Thanks to a wonderful circle of family and friends, he was often amazed at the love and support he was shown, especially during this last difficult year.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, February 12th at the McDougall and Brown Funeral Home, 2900 Kingston Road in Scarborough. Friends and family were received for visitation from 12 to 1:00 p.m. The Memorial service took place at 1:00 p.m. with a reception immediately following.

Mr. Williams is survived by his wife Shelley and his children Claire (Trevor) and John (Mihaela). He is lovingly remembered by his sisters Jane and Susan, brother Chris and many nieces and nephews. His family will remember him as a generous, selfless and kind man.

Memorial donations in memory of John may be made to the Toronto Humane Society or Princess Margaret Hospital. Condolences may be placed at

Tribute On The Passing Of John Williams – A Chamber Champion With A Large And Caring Heart…

Shelley, Claire, John, Jane, Susan, and Chris and your families, I know you will miss John dearly, and on behalf of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce and myself I extend our deepest sympathy to you and your families.

It was truly an honour and privilege to have known John and he was a true friend and mentor.

Upon hearing the news of John’s passing the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce received several emails from Past Presidents and members of the Chamber of Commerce who worked with John. Those individuals have made my task today that much easier.

My tribute includes their feelings and remembrances of John.

John once told me he began his career doing audits at the Leamington Heinz Tomato plant. In 1990, he came to Oshawa as a partner of Deloitte & Touche and then striking out on his own in 1999 with his own practice and joining forces with Sue Hillebrand. John was a tax specialist in domestic and international tax planning and as many of his clients will attest—and may I suggest much to the chagrin of several tax auditors—he was extremely good at it.

For over 22 years John maintained active participation at the Chamber and was the most dedicated member in the history of the Chamber next to his mentor Fred Ball…to the Williams family a sincere ‘thank you’ for sharing John with the Chamber over the past two decades.

Over the years, John chaired several Chamber committees, acted as its treasurer a couple of times, served as Chamber President in 2000, co-chaired the first Durham Economic Prosperity Conference in 2006 and was involved at every Conference, and had been an active member of the Board of Directors until January 2012. John’s community involvement over the years included the Rotary Club of Oshawa, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal and the United Way.

John had strong beliefs and convictions, enjoyed a good debate (and a little controversy), and he would give no quarter. Nor did he expect any in return. John was always there when the community or Chamber needed help and he was always there for me if I needed advice, encouragement or…a good glass of wine.

John was on the hiring committee in 1997 and welcomed me to the Chamber.

If John liked you, you knew that you had a true friend and he was always genuinely concerned for you. He always had a smile and a friendly greeting whenever I ran into him on the street and he was always concerned with how I was doing. John was an incredibly passionate Chamber Champion! I enjoyed his thirst for life and his commitment to the Chamber.

At Board meetings John would come prepared having researched the most recent policy positions being proposed by committee and respectfully challenged the Board. I was always amazed at his knowledge on the issues and wondered when he ever had time to work.

John was a firm believer that we must run the Chamber just as we would our businesses. He was of great assistance to me personally and was instrumental in crafting the Chamber’s budgets, strategic plans and policy positions over the past 15 years. Many a time, John and I would discuss and solve the world issues over a penne carbonara and a good bottle of wine at Fazio’s.

I will miss those debates.

John strongly believed that the local Chamber movement is of great benefit to all businesses and to local communities across Canada and when we took on projects such as Physician Recruitment, Global Experience at Work and the Durham Economic Prosperity Conference John was at the table giving freely of his time to ensure their success.

I would like to close with a personal comment which I feel sums up the feelings of the Chamber staff, Board of Directors and members;

John was a man of integrity with a large and caring heart and he will be missed very, very much. I hope John knows how much we appreciated his encouragement and concern.

“Ciao my Friend”
Bob Malcolmson, CEO & General Manager
Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce – February 12, 2014

TRIBUTES from Past Presidents and Members of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce

I am very saddened by the news about John. I know that he was very brave in his struggle with his illness and we trust that he is now at peace.

As we just arrived in Florida for 2 months, I am very disappointed that I will not be able to be at the service. Please pass on my condolences to John’s family and tell them that in working with John at the Chamber, professionally with mutual clients and for the last 10 years as co-trustees for a complex estate, John was always very professional and his advice was well thought out and sound. My partner Charlie Morison and I will miss him and his good judgment in the days to come.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

– Bob Alexander, President, 1993

I’m very sorry to hear about John’s passing. John was a staunch supporter of the Chamber. He willingly gave of his time to help serve the Chamber. I served with him for many years as a fellow Board and Executive member. It was a pleasure to work with him as he freely gave of his time and spoke his mind. His insights and directions were invaluable.

He will be missed,

– Don Conaby, President 1998-99

John and I were on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce together for several years. John was thoughtful, intelligent and kind. He considered the issues thoroughly before expressing his opinion and always respected that others may not share his opinion. He was called upon often to give his well-reasoned guidance. I considered him a mentor and friend.

– Ian A. Johncox, President, 2001-02

It has been over 10 years ago that I was on the Board along with John for approximately 2 years. My clearest memories of John were his professional charismatic ways of dealing with all issues and people on the Board. A true gentleman and a big supporter of the Oshawa Chamber…he will be sadly missed by his friends and colleagues!

– Norm Mackie, Board of Directors 2003-08

I had the pleasure of working with John on the Board of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce. His experience in the financial and business world was a valuable resource to the Chamber. Always a pleasant individual to work with, he truly had the best interest of the Chamber in mind.

He will be sadly missed, fondly remembered.

– Keith Miller, President, 2005

I served on several boards and the Greater Oshawa Chamber Executive with John. I was always happy that he was on our side when negotiating. His uncanny ability to recall details and express views and opinions in an eloquent manner made him an invaluable ally. I recall a meeting at Queen’s Park with Minister Brad Duguid. John was successful in winning a positive response to our position where others who had tried previously, were not. John will be sorely missed by those of us who had the pleasure of working with him over the years.

– Dave Hare, President, 2009

John was a very dedicated Greater Oshawa Chamber member, and director. The concerns of the business community were always first and foremost of importance to John, and he never hesitated to speak his mind when he thought that a wrong decision was being made. He studied, researched and analyzed issues more than any other board member that I ever worked with, allowing himself to make fully informed and well thought out decisions. Any time a politician tried to make a decision or comment that John viewed as contrary to good business practices, they were clearly going to arouse John’s ire and have him express a strong opinion. Thanks John for your years of dedication.

– Geoff Michie, President 2012

John Williams was a true gentleman. In all of his dealings, he was respectful, patient, and understanding, though he had character and could firmly hold his ground if he needed to. He had lengthy experience in dealing with people, and knew that not everyone was “nice”, yet always came from a position of respect and compassion, whether he agreed with you or not. He was a doer and a shaker, but he did it in his own way, by working at convincing people, and motivating them, not by forcing them to do things that they didn’t want to do! Most of all, he was a powerful force for good in Durham Region, by working on things that he believed in, by holding himself to a high moral standard, by being tenacious in all of his dealings, and by focusing on the good in people and “things”, and ignoring the not so good… We will miss him greatly.

– Richard Marceau, V.P. Research Memorial University, NFLD
Co-Chair 2006 DEPC

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a few words to honour John Williams.

I would like to convey my deepest sympathies, on behalf of Members of Council for the passing of John. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

For those who do not know, John and I had a relationship outside of office and politics. John represented me in my professional business. I valued him as someone I could trust to offer his opinion on what needed to be done. Throughout my political career, I considered his advice and respected his views. I have the deepest respect for John and offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

– John Henry, Mayor, City of Oshawa

Picture of Isabelle Foley

Isabelle Foley

As Director of Member Success I strive to help members connect and get the most out of their chamber membership. I am an advocate for local businesses and passionate about spotlighting our community's success. Join the growth!


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