Dave Williams walked down the top floor of the Westin Hotel back to the Crown Suite with two ice buckets full to the brim. It was early evening Nov. 16, a Friday — two nights before the 1984 Grey Cup at Commonwealth Stadium.“You never knew how much ice we might need tonight,” said Dave, who was hosting the Edmonton Eskimo hospitality suite. “I hope lots of people come by to say hello.”That memory of Dave — and so many more — flew through my memory earlier this week when I learned of Dave’s passing Jan. 28 at the age of 79.I met Dave when he was running the marketing department for the Eskimos for 10 years. He started his career with Air Canada in 1958 and spent two decades with the airline before former Eskimos general manager Norm Kimball recruited him.“Dave was a great guy and did so much for the Eskimos, on and off the field,” remembered retired Eskimos coach, GM and president Hugh Campbell on his cellphone from San Diego. “He was a big part of the Grey Cups we won.“He helped move the team into Commonwealth Stadium and I was coaching back then. Dave always made sure players’ wives and families were taken care of so the coaches could always focus on the players.”Dave collected five Grey Cup rings during his 10-year stay with the Eskimos. Dave retired from NAIT in 2007 as the school’s executive director of planned giving. That same year he was diagnosed with ALS. Within time, he used a power wheelchair because his ALS advanced. Always one to want to help make a difference, Dave was a board member for the ALS Society of Alberta. He raised funds and created awareness for ALS, often known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a disease of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which control voluntary muscle movement.
The first ever fellowship in Alberta dedicated to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) research, known as the Betty Norman Fellowship, was awarded in 2008 to Dr. Kerri Schellenberg, left, shown here at the time with Dave Williams and Betty Norman’s daughter Kelly Eaton. Postmedia file
Bruce Edwards /
Dave always considered his ALS a new trait — one of his characteristics — just like his encouraging smile, his dancing eyes seconds before delivering a joke’s punchline spot-on cue, or embracing your hand with a warm genuine handshake, and the way he initiated every conversation with “Hello, my friend. How are you?”Dave and I had many conversations following his ALS. But he never introduced it into a visit.Dave talked about his family and the latest adventures of his grandchildren. Talked about sports, especially about the Eskimos. He talked about the Edmonton Oilers and how Rogers Place is wonderful and will help downtown Edmonton for years to come.Then, he gave updates on mutual friends we both had.Dave Williams was a friend’s friend.“After Dave left the Eskimos, we often went to Wendy’s for a high-priced lunch,” Campbell said with his unique sense of humour.“We talked and talked for hours and laughed.“I have always missed that. But I really miss that now.”