Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Sheldon Williams

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Sheldon Williams

Sheldon Ward Williams
August 15, 1936 – February 14, 2017

sheldon_williams.jpgSheldon Ward Williams passed away on February 14, 2017 at Colonial Manor Nursing Home in Danville, IL. He was 105 1/2 years old. 

Sheldon Williams was born August 30, 1911 in New York City, NY, to parents Harrison Sheldon and Sarah Emma (Kissam) Williams. His early years were largely spent in West Springfield, MA. He married Mildred Farrand Baldwin on Aug. 15, 1936, in Shelburne, VT. Their dynamic and happy marriage lasted for 70 years until she passed away in 2006. They had five sons, Royce Williams of Wisconsin, John Williams (Linda) of California, David Williams (Jo) of Texas, Robert Williams (Audrey) of Colorado, and Homer Williams (Laurel Kendall) of New York; and three daughters, Sarah Flack (Steve) of Tennessee, Eleanor Blackmon (William [Bear] – deceased) of Illinois, and Mary Grace Williams, who passed away Feb. 29, 2000 (Kevin Nagele). Sheldon is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and all his siblings – brothers, George and Robert; and sister, Mary Emma Blades. 

In 1932, Sheldon earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from Cornell University; in 1934, a Master of Science from the University of Vermont; and in 1941, a doctorate from Cornell University in agricultural economics. 

After 15 years at the University of Vermont and five years at Auburn University, he spent most of the rest of his career as a professor at the University of Illinois, where he retired in 1981. During his first 17 years at the University of Illinois, he also held a joint appointment with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as coordinator of the North Central Regional Committee on dairy marketing. From 1969 to 1972, he was a member of a University of Illinois team in Jabalpur, India, assisting in developing marketing techniques for soybeans. In 1981 he served as dean of the faculty of agriculture at the University of Calabar in Nigeria as an affiliate of the United Church Board for World Ministries (today Global Ministries).  His work in Nigeria was extended through most of 1983.  Upon his return, he conducted research for several years as professor emeritus for the National Soybean Research Lab (INTSOY). 

Sheldon was a proficient gardener and an active member of his church, Community United Church of Christ. If you lived on Oregon Street in Urbana, there is a good chance you saw him biking to work, as this was his preferred way to commute. In recent years, many in the neighborhood also remember his daily walks until his 100th year, which he took year-round regardless of the weather. 

Memorial contributions may be made to Community United Church of Christ, 805 South 6th Street, Champaign, IL 61820-6277. Condolences may be offered online at