Sheldon Williams

Sheldon Williams

URBANA – Sheldon Ward Williams passed away on Tuesday (Feb. 14, 2017) at Colonial Manor Nursing Home in Danville. He was 105 1/2 years old.

Private graveside services will be held at Woodlawn Cemetery, Urbana. A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at Community United Church of Christ, 805 S. 6th St., Champaign, with Pastor Leah Robberts-Mosser officiating. A reception will be held at the church following the service, beginning about 3:45 p.m.

Sheldon Williams was born Aug. 30, 1911 in New York City, N.Y., to parents Harrison Sheldon and Sarah Emma (Kissam) Williams. His early years were largely spent in West Springfield, Mass. He married Mildred Farrand Baldwin on Aug. 15, 1936, in Shelburne, Vt. Their dynamic and happy marriage lasted for 70 years until she passed away in 2006. They had five sons, Royce Williams of Wisconsin, John Williams (Linda) of California, David Williams (Jo) of Texas, Robert Williams (Audrey) of Colorado and Homer Williams (Laurel Kendall) of New York; and three daughters, Sarah Flack (Steve) of Tennessee, Eleanor Blackmon (William (Bear) - deceased) of Illinois and Mary Grace Williams, who passed away Feb. 29, 2000 (Kevin Nagele). Sheldon is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and all his siblings - brothers, George and Robert; and sister, Mary Emma Blades.

In 1932, Sheldon earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from Cornell University; in 1934, a Master of Science from the University of Vermont; and in 1941, a doctorate from Cornell University in agricultural economics. After 15 years at the University of Vermont and five years at Auburn University, he spent most of the rest of his career as a professor at the University of Illinois, where he retired in 1981. His first 17 years at Illinois, he held a joint appointment with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as coordinator of the North Central Regional Committee on dairy marketing, work for which he was awarded a Superior Service Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1962. From 1969 to 1972, he was a member of a University of Illinois team in Jabalpur, India, assisting in developing marketing techniques for soybeans, which were a new crop to the area. During 1982 and most of 1983, he served as dean of the faculty of agriculture at the University of Calabar in Nigeria. Upon his return, he conducted research for several years as professor emeritus for the National Soybean Research Lab (INTSOY).

Sheldon was a proficient gardener and an active member of his church, Community United Church of Christ. If you lived on Oregon Street in Urbana, there is a good chance you saw him biking to work, as this was his preferred way to commute. In recent years, many in the neighborhood also remember his daily walks until his 100th year, which he took year-round regardless of the weather.

Memorial contributions may be made to Community United Church of Christ. Condolences may be offered online at