John Williams was my friend. He was everyone’s friend.
Last week, he died unexpectedly, in the midst of a very active life, serving and improving the community he loved: Cannon Beach, Oregon. His latest job titles included Mayor and president of the local historical society.
His accomplishments, and work and service history in the community can easily fill three or four pages.
Yet, I will remember him for his ever-present decency, compassion, and genuine interest in solving problems, encouraging leadership and public service, and for his ever-present smile and contagious laugh.
John took an interest in everything and everybody. No one was unimportant to him, and he was not easily impressed with someone’s title, authority, or power. He was always striving for the best in a situation, and encouraged others to think outside of the box, and to find ways to make a difficult situation a “win-win” for all involved, and also for the community.
In the last few years, he has served as the interim city manager for the cities of Wheeler and Rockaway Beach, Oregon. In doing so, he inherited divided and argumentative public forums and thorny issues, and quietly, gently turned the discussions and heated arguments into a search for answers and conciliation, and mutual respect.
John Williams is a synonym on the Oregon Coast for public service, decency, and respect. His untimely death leaves an enormous void in our communities, and his gentle effectiveness will be missed. Yet, his memory and his good works will be his real legacy.