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John M. Williams

John M. Williams

John Michael Williams, of Menomonie, WI, passed on in his 85th year of life on July 27, 2020 at home lovingly cared for by his wife, Jane, a circle of dear friends, and hospice nurses.  He was born in Detroit, Michigan to Martha (Palms) and William B. Williams, the third of four boys.  John grew up in Bloomfield Hills lovingly raised by his mother and grandmother.  He attended St. Johns Seminary in Detroit and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1961.  He served as a parish priest, seminary teacher, and college chaplain before deciding to leave the active ministry.  Scholarly learning was in his DNA.  John attended Ohio State University and then in completed his Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State University.   He began his teaching career at UW-Stout in 1976 as a professor in Human Development and Family Studies and as a supervisor in the graduate Marriage and Family Therapy Program.

John loved teaching and was dedicated to his students, his colleagues, and the university community.  He was often heard singing to his students in class and many a Christmas Eve was spent writing long comments on students’ term papers.  He was an accomplished researcher who left no stone unturned.   John loved spending time in libraries and at the National Archives researching JFK papers as well as conducting interviews around the country for his research that he generously shared with others.   Anyone who knew John knew he loved everything about books---having them, reading them, and making notes in the margins.  He was an avid reader and enjoyed his weekly Friday book club lunches and discussions with three good friends.   

John was a deeply spiritual person of faith and is the embodiment of “be still and know that I am God”.  He attended yearly spiritual retreats for over 30 years.  He continued his ministry by teaching in the diocesan diaconate program, presenting programs on Vatican II, mentoring young people in confirmation, leading a Scripture Study group, and providing spiritual direction.  He hoped he would be alive to see a married priesthood and the ordination of women. 

He was passionate about social justice.  John was a wise, kind, generous, and compassionate person who always looked for the good in everyone and everything, but would also speak truth to power when addressing injustices in our midst.  He was an amazing listener, fully present for every conversation, person, and relationship. 

In 1993 he met the love of his life, Jane, thanks to the persistence of a dear mutual friend, Patricia.  They married in 1994 and spent the next 26 years making beautiful memories both at their home on the lake that he loved and in their many travels around the country and world.  

John is survived by his wife, Jane Redig Williams, brother William (Mary Anne) Williams, sisters in law Maria Williams, Marilee Williams, and many nieces and nephews.  He is further survived by his family in-laws by marriage:  Theresa and Don Yaeger, Sr. Ann Redig, Mari and Pat Gannon, Ardi and Bob Johnson, Robert and Kathy Redig, Joan Redig and Wayne Purtzer, and many nieces and nephews as well as many friends here and away.   He was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Peter Williams and James Williams

Many thanks to Mayo Clinic Health System Hospice, Dr. Thirumalai and Dr. Basu for their devoted care.  Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private service was held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Menomonie with Fr. Tom Krieg and Fr. John Mano officiating.  A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date when we can safely celebrate this amazing man’s fully lived life.   

Memorials can be directed to Stepping Stones, Oxfam International, Union of Concerned Scientists, or St. Joseph’s Parish. 


  1. Julia O'Reilly

    I am one of the many Marriage and Family students who loved him, learned from him, allowed him to change my life. Memories live on. So thankful he was in my life.

  2. Ann Parsons

    Jane, my heart goes out to you. Thinking of you as you grieve the loss of your husband. You are special.

  3. David Clanaugh

    What a loving, compassionate man with a profound ability to listen and be present! John touched my heart and my life. I am forever grateful to him. I hope Jane can find healing and peace in the days ahead. When John spoke of you, his gratitude and love was quite palpable.

  4. Bruce and Julie Kuehl

    Dear Jane,
    Julie and I send our deepest condolences. John made a big impact on our lives. He played a large role in our moving to Menomonie where we raised our family and I worked alongside John at UW-Stout. He has been a wonderful friend and mentor to me over the years. Always there with a kind heart, warm smile and words of wisdom. John also brought you into our lives. For all these things we are grateful. Julie and I send our love to you and John in Heaven and we look forward to getting together with you when circumstances allow. Love, Bruce and Julie

  5. Dennis Spader

    In my 43 years in Menomonie I have never heard anything negative about John. Simply put, a good man! A loss for all. My condolences to all. Jqpecmhu

  6. Alan Scott

    My deepest condolensces Jane. It was a pleasure knowing and talking with John at St. Joseph. Sincerely, Alan & Monica Scott

  7. Patricia A Chittendon

    John was a precious gift to our Comminity. We met years ago, in the 1980’s, through a mutual friend and The Lay Ministry Program. My spouse met him in the Diaconate Program and remembers him with great love. Upon reading about his transitioning to the next life, Bob said,” I was thinking of getting ahold of him. Darn, we lost a great man.” Both Bob and I send out prayers and love to John’s wife, his family and all of those who will miss him. Blessed Be!

  8. Sue Crisp

    My sympathy to you Jane and family. You always had nice things to say about John. May he rest in peace. The last time I saw you and John is when you came to visit Father Tom at St. James the Greater. God bless you.

  9. Joan L. Redig

    John Williams lived a full life, but yet gone too soon.
    As sister-in-law it was an honor to know him all of the years he was with my sister, Jane.
    Rest well,John.
    Joan Redig

  10. Leslie Norris

    Oh, Jane, I am so very sorry for your loss, but am so thrilled that you and John found each other all those years ago. Rejoicing that you had such rich, beautiful, loving years together, and how that love spilled out into the world in all that both of you did and do. You both lit up the world with your smiles and laughter. Wrapping you up in virtual hugs and love - Leslie

  11. Lisa Bien-Sinz

    Dear Jane and family,
    I has the privilege of meeting John in 1980 while at UW Stout. He was a dear person and his heart was so full upon meeting you, Jane. So truly sorry for your loss. John was a kind, compassionate, bright light in this world. A truly wonderful person. My deepest condolences and prayers . . .

  12. Kara and Nancy

    John was the most amazing man....I'm so glad he'll be watching over me!

  13. Dennis and Roxanne Lamb

    Sending our condolences to you ,Jane and the family.

  14. Kristie Bugs

    John was a kind man who will be missed. So sorry for your loss.

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