Obituary - Lt Commander John S Williams
With the death of John Williams on Monday May 12th the world of dogs lost one of its greatest supporters and one with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things ‘Kennel Club’. He was 82.
It was as assistant editor of OUR DOGS that I first encountered his clear, precise gentlemanly style which many of his successors failed to emulate. In the mid 70s in an unprecedented move the Kennel Club agreed to send out press releases immediately after General Committee meetings on Tuesdays at we went to press. In those pre-fax, pre-email days the only way for this to be delivered was by phone so we had regular monthly chat on the latest thoughts coming out of Clarges Street Boardroom.
He was fiercely loyal to the club at all times and remained so even after his early retirement from the secretary’s job in 1979. Within a year he became field trial secretary of the Kennel Club and the then editor of OUR DOGS Richard Marples brought him onboard to produce his monthly ‘Profile’ column on prominent people in the world of dogs. In 1983 he joined the council of the National Canine Defence League, now Dogs Trust and a year later he started to contribute his weekly ‘Commentary’ column to OUR DOGS which he did until 1995, signing off in true style with best wishes for the future to his ‘reader’. Unable to leave the world of dogs behind completely he contributed the annual review to the OUR DOGS Annuals from 1996 to 1999. In the mid 80s, after what he considered to be a reasonable time of severance as a Kennel Club employee, he also reported on disciplinary cases in which his knowledge of the ‘red book’ was often greater than those who sat in judgement.
He always wrote from the ‘crow’s nest’ - a third floor office in his lovely Georgian house in Amersham with his pet Dandie Dinmont at his feet. Always adept at pushing deadlines in the nicest way he had no fear of technology and when desktop publishing took over was among the first to equip himself with an Applemac computer and e-mail.
One of the great stories he told was when in the clubroom at the Kennel Club on a private visit for lunch in town he was approached by The Princess Royal who saw him as she entered the room on an official visit. She offered him a royal hand which he shook with great pleasure, she called him by name and they then continued to have a deep conversation about dogs, the paintings in the room and Crufts. John had been retired as secretary for some time but carried on graciously as the entourage stood by! The fact that he had made such an impression was testimony enough.
Outside the world of dogs his great passion was gardening which he enjoyed with his wife Jilly and both were deeply involved with the local horticultural society often raising funds for charities by organising plant sales and open days.
In true John Williams style the funeral was a private affair but a memorial service will be held on Friday May 29th at 12 noon at St Mary’s Church, Old Amersham. The directors and staff of OUR DOGS send their condolences to his wife Jilly and daughter Jane.
An appreciation from the Kennel Club
Lt Commander John S Williams first joined the Kennel Club to take up the role of Secretary in 1971, having previously worked at London Zoo. He adapted to the change from exotic animals to domestic ones with ease, and became very involved in Field Trials in particular - he continued to run KC Field Trials even after his retirement in 1979. Following his retirement he was made an Honorary Life Member of the Kennel Club.
Commander Williams was extremely popular with KC staff, and several of the people whom he employed during his time with the company are now themselves in senior positions at the club, including Chief Executive, Rosemary Smart. He will be missed by many Kennel Club members and staff alike.