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It is with heartfelt sorrow our family announces the tremendous loss of Wayne LeRoy Williams, a beloved husband, father, and grandfather. After an incredible life filled with the most unique experiences, Wayne passed away peacefully at his home on November 9th, 2023 after a brief battle, just one week shy of his 86th birthday on November 16th.
Always sentimental at heart, he was a devoted husband to wife Grace Myrtle (Jackson) whom he married in St. Catharines in 1963. On May 4th of this year, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and were presented by their family, a letter of Congratulations from the Governor General to help commemorate this wonderful milestone.
Loving father to Kelly of Los Fresnos Texas, Tracey (Jeffrey MacDonald) of Corbeil ON, and his son Darryn of North Bay, ON. Fondly admired by his three grandchildren, Adam, Lexie and Alec Cervantes. Wayne’s love of the outdoors, his desire to do a job well done, his unwavering guidance, and his enduring ‘joie de vivre’ were and will always continue to be a strong, steadfast influence in all of their lives.
Wayne was born in Stamford County, Niagara Falls ON, the eldest son of proud parents, Darrel Ellery ‘Curly' and Mary Grace (Dunn) Williams, and cherished brother to siblings Darilyn (Dennis Eisener), Gail (Bob Overholt), Elrene (Allan Riley), Terry (Dave Maraldo) and Kevin (Debbie Williams). Beloved son-in-law to Sarah Louise Jackson and dear brother-in-law to Shirley Jackson, Verna (Scott Bridges), Ruth (Gary Haines), and a proud Uncle and Great Uncle to many Nieces and Nephews who he loved dearly.
Wayne knew the value of hard work at an early age helping his Dad either baling hay or tending to the horses on the family farm, delivering bottles of milk by horse and wagon with his Grandpa Williams, unloading boxcars full of wheat at the Nabisco plant in Niagara Falls, and becoming an exercise rider for thoroughbred race horses at Stamford Park Race Track west of Montrose Road in the early 50’s, from which he helped to buy his Dad a brand new ’52 Chevrolet.
Although having dreams of becoming an architect like his Grandpa Dunn, he joined the R.C.A.F. in 1959 at the age of 21 years, heading off to St. Jean, Quebec for basic training, and apart from his posting to Yorkton Saskatchewan, Wayne was primarily stationed along the Northern Pine Tree Line in Mont Apica, Armstrong, Ramore and Sioux Lookout working as a ground communications technician. It was in this time that he developed a love and respect for the beauty that was northern Ontario and is where he chose to raise his family. He continued his career at C.F.B. Borden and later transferred to NORAD Underground Complex in North Bay, ON where he logged 9,603 hours defending Canada’s skies. It was here that Master Corporal Wayne Williams retired after 30 years of service in the Royal Canadian Air Force at the young age of 50. On a wall in his workshop, his second home, sits a board mounted with 30 poppies, each poppy worn and kept for each year of military service. He went on to be a kindergarten bus driver for Deluxe Bus Lines for 5 years and later as a Transit Bus Driver for the Corporation of the City of North Bay until his ‘second’ retirement at 65 years of age. Over the years, he was extremely touched by former school kids and passengers that recognized him as their favourite bus driver.
Throughout his life, Wayne excelled in all that he did. He could bowl a perfect game, effectively “sweep” in curling, and consistently score under 90 in golf. He was an avid outdoorsman and never came up short fishing for bass or pickerel, or hunting for moose or grouse. He could be found with Norm Macdonald, his best, lifelong friend of 50+ years, fishing for pickerel along the shores of Lake Sesekinika and Lake Kenogami or hunting moose along Boston Creek Road with Norm and his boys Dean and Rob every October. He was a skilled, self-taught builder, a true McGyver in his own right who could build, fix or solve anything taking the premise that “there are no problems, only solutions” and that “you have to think outside the box”. His workshop was in itself, a builder’s dream with every saw, wrench, level and screwdriver impeccably hung on the wall, every carpenter’s pencil sharpened to a point and a Milwaukee tape measure sitting at every work bench. He helped many friends and neighbours over the years to build porches, decks and fences beyond his own, and was always willing to lend a hand wherever he could. He knew every staff member at Carry-All Builders by name and for Christmas every December, for the past 30 years, would bring his building family Tim Horton’s coffee, hot chocolate, a generous supply of doughnuts, and an interesting story to tell.
Wayne, although he wouldn’t admit it, was artistic in nature. Sketching and painting since he was young, he had a keen eye for colours and shadows which is reflected in his Lawn Rake Heron that sits beside the walkway, the various creatively crafted bird houses he made for the yard, the orange and yellow flower planter he made from Granny Jackson’s old Beatty wringer washing machine, and in the colourful ice-fishing tip-ups he for years, so meticulously hand-crafted from either birch or oak. His creative spirit was also reflected in the beautiful flower gardens he grew every year. Red geraniums lined the window boxes of his fence, the flower beds were always full with white and pink hydrangeas, beautiful yellow, pink and purple peonies, orange and lime green coneflowers, and his favourite flower the iris, that he ordered yearly from Holland, always made the back yard an exceptionally beautiful showcase.
He enjoyed a good game of Hearts, Euchre or Crib, looked forward to crosswords in the paper with his early morning coffee, could fill a cooler full of wild blueberries or strawberries in less than an hour, and made the best butter tarts like nobody’s business.
Most of all, Wayne was a master story teller, a man of humour and action, and a gentleman. He possessed a quiet strength, lived his life with grace and integrity and was a man of wisdom and principle. And when he smiled, boy that smile...his eyes twinkled and smiled with him. Rest in peace beloved Wayne, know your family will always have you and Johnny Mathis’ ‘The Twelfth of Never’ in their hearts.
The family wishes to express their heartfelt gratitude to the nurses from Community Care Partners, to Pam Millar, Care Coordinator, HCCSS Northeast and to Dr. Hailey Moore for providing Wayne with such exceptional and respectful care and conversation in his home.
In keeping with Wayne’s wishes, there will be no visitation or funeral. A Celebration of Life will be planned for Wayne in the summer of 2024. Donations in Wayne’s honour to the North Bay Regional Health Centre, the Northeast Cancer Centre, or the North Bay Humane Society would be greatly appreciated. Online tributes and condolences may be conveyed through Hillside Funeral Services, https://www.hillsidefuneral.ca.