Owen Williams – Remembering CoDev

Since our beginning 25 years ago, CoDev has grown on the strength of people coming together in solidarity and commitment to work for social justice. From teachers nurturing student’s citizenship in Central America to public sector union workers in Colombia organizing to defend human rights, our successes and those of our partners are rooted in people’s dedication to come together across distances, in pursuit of sustainable social change. 

Sometimes that change comes in the form of action and sometimes it comes as a gift. To foster long-term sustainability for CoDev and our partners, in 2005 CoDev established a planned giving program for donors interested in leaving a legacy for global justice. In the fall of October 2009, CoDev learned that one of our supporters, Owen Williams, did just that. He made a substantial planned gift to CoDev’s Endowment Fund through his estate.

Remembered as a “gentle, kind man with a twinkle in his eyes,” Owen grew up in Melbourne, Australia with two younger siblings, Margaret and David. As a child, he enjoyed painting and drawing. His sister remembers great times exploring the bush around Melbourne with her big brother Owen.

As a young man, Owen became an instrument technician and served in the Australian Air Force during World War II. While he was stationed in Darwin, Owen became pen friends with Elsie, a young Canadian woman from Vancouver. Over time, their relationship grew and Elsie came to Australia to meet Owen and they decided to marry. They stayed in Melbourne and lived with Owen’s parents for several years.
When Elsie’s mother’s health began to deteriorate, Owen and Elsie made the decision to immigrate to Vancouver to take care of her. Once here, Owen became an orderly at Shaughnessy Veteran’s Hospital and was later by the Workers Compensation Board, where he worked until his retirement.

Owen and Elsie were inseparable. Their friends and family note that “Owen loved life and he and Elsie had a wonderful marriage together.” Owen’s niece Judy remembers a trip to Vancouver in 1988. Elsie and Owen were so enthusiastic about showing Judy their city and country that they paid for her to visit Banff, just so she could share in the beauty of the landscape.

In the years after Elsie passed away, Owen became friends with his neighbor and CoDev supporter Chris Shelton. Chris shared stories of CoDev’s work, especially CoDev’s health and education projects in Central America, and after careful consideration, Owen decided to name CoDev as a beneficiary in his Will.

Owen passed away on October 26th, 2009. The generous planned gift he made has substantially increased the capital of CoDev’s Endowment Fund, which will be held in perpetuity to support CoDev’s programs. Owen’s legacy enables CoDev to work with our partners to work strategically to create long-term, meaningful, and sustainable social change.

Owen William’s generous spirit, gentle warmth, and love for his wife and his community were evident to all who knew him. Through his generous and meaningful gift to CoDev his commitment and dedication to social justice lives on. Thank you Owen.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about making a Planned Gift to Codev, please contact: Cindy Pandini at cpandini@codev.org or 604.708.1495 ext. 112.

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