The amazing Dr Bill Williams, former President of MAPW and for many years a driving force in our organisation, died in his sleep overnight on Monday.
He inspired so many of us with his passionate, clear and often humorous speeches on war and all aspects on the nuclear fuel chain. He has been extremely active as chair of ICAN, which was launched by MAPW in 2006. Below is the tribute that has been written by the ICAN board, which I think encapsulates so much about him.
He will be terribly missed. His contribution has been enormous in many areas for MAPW, and the current progress towards a nuclear weapons ban in no small part due to his efforts.
National President - MAPW
It is with immense regret and profound sorrow that we share the news that our dear friend and colleague Dr Bill Williams died in his sleep on Monday, most likely of a heart attack. Bill was a co-founder of ICAN and had served as the chair of the campaign in Australia over the past few years.
For decades, he spoke out passionately against nuclear weapons, nuclear power and uranium mining. He cared deeply for those in Australia, the Pacific and elsewhere in the world who have suffered from these horrific weapons and toxic industries.
We will all miss Bill enormously. He was a man of great vision, passion and compassion. His belief in a world free of nuclear weapons and untethered from the nuclear fuel chain fired our work. His energy, intelligence, humanity and humour inspired all his friends, colleagues and fellow travellers.
In addition to co-founding ICAN, he was a leading figure in the Medical Association for Prevention of War and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for helping bridge the Cold War divide, and educating decision-makers and the public about the medical consequences of nuclear war and the imperative to eradicate these weapons.
Amongst all this he was also a general practitioner in his beloved Torquay, on the Victorian surf coast, with ongoing regular work in the remote Aboriginal communities in the Western desert region of the Northern Territory. He loved life, he loved a good wave, he loved his family and friends and the work.
His conviction and clarity on things from land rights to gender equity to solidarity activism have lit up the world. It will be a darker place for the loss of his voice, his laughter, his vision, care and love, but our lives will forever be the richer for having known him.
We encourage you to read about Bill’s personal story and work on his website, launched last year with his book Bleed – a work of great love about his partner, Gisela. And we share with you this quote from one of his many articles on the unparalleled danger of nuclear weapons:
“We need a determined worldwide movement to outlaw and abolish nukes. To get there in this generation, we need to build the wave of public opinion into a mighty crescendo: a massive, surging, irresistible force which carries us all the way to absolutely zero nukes. Without it, even the most inspirational of leaders will falter on the way.”
His leadership has been vital to the success and vision of our work. His friendship, guidance and kindness have been vital in the lives of many who are engaged in the peace and anti-nuclear movement. In Australia and around the world, Bill touched many as a visionary and inspiring leader.
Earlier this year, he joined a historic UN working group meeting on nuclear disarmament in Geneva, and was thrilled by the progress made towards a nuclear-weapon-ban treaty, which he helped propel. He was as passionate and committed and energetic as ever to seize the tremendous opportunity that lies before us.
Our love and thoughts are with Bill’s family and friends at this difficult time. We will gladly pass on any messages of condolence. Please email them to this address (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post them to PO Box 1379, Carlton VIC 3053.
The most fitting tribute to Bill will be to redouble our efforts to ban and eradicate nuclear weapons.
With great sorrow,
The Board and Staff of ICAN Australia