John M. Williams Jr., 85, died Sunday, Oct. 28, after a short illness. The Phoenix native attended Emerson Grammar and North Phoenix High schools. After serving two years in the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, he attended Phoenix Junior College and Arizona State College at Tempe (now Arizona State University). He received a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture in 1951. John then began a career in the agriculture business and farmed over 6,500 acres of cotton, alfalfa, wheat, corn silage and watermelon. Eventually his labors yielded the John M. Williams Farms, a major agricultural operation based in Laveen, AZ. John was Salt River Project's 16th president, from 2006 until 2010, capping a 44-year career on SRP's governing boards and councils. John was proud of his service to SRP, and the state of Arizona has been the beneficiary of his service and leadership. He served on theSRP Councils from 1964 to 1972, then served on the SRP Bosrds from 1974 to 1994. In 1994, he was elected SRP's vice president; he served in that capacity until 2006. When John began his service in 1964, SRP had just over 125,000 electric customers and 1,376 employees. When he retired as president in 2010, SRP had almost 940,000 electric customers and about 5,000 employees. Because of his long and storied SRP career, John was a member of many industry groups. He was president of New West Energy Corp., vice president of SRP Captive Risk Solutions, Ltd., and a member of the Groundwater Users' Advisory Council, American Public Power Association, National Water Resources Association and Colorado River Water Users' Association. President George W. Bush appointed him to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council in 2008. John also was a member of numerous civic organizations, including the Farmer's Gin, the Maricopa County Farm Services Administration, the Laveen Village Planning Committee, and the Cowman's Club, as well as the Scottsdale Boys and Girls Club, Verde Vaquero and EI Zaribah Shrine. John is predeceased by: his parents John M. and Barbara Hodgkins Williams; his brother, Leslie, a decorated war hero; and June Williams, his first wife and mother of his children. He is survived by: wife, Dawnetta; his four adult children, Byron, Leslie, Stephen and Charmian; eight grandchildren; five greatgrandchildren; and Dawnetta's five children, Travis, Tanner, Tristian, Tim and Tenille Dodge. A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, Nov. 18, from noon to 3 p.m. at the SRP PERA Club, 1 East Continental Drive, Tempe, AZ.
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Published in The Arizona Republic from Nov. 11 to Nov. 14, 2012