Remembering Norman Williams (1924-2018)

Norm was born in 1924 at Fernie, B.C. to a Ukrainian-Canadian family.  His baptismal name was Vladimir Waslykow, which he later changed to “Norman Williams” before practising law.  His father ran a restaurant in Kamloops, B.C. – a fact that he would mention to servers whenever we were at a restaurant.  Norm attended the University of British Columbia’s law school and set up his law practice in New Westminster.  In the 1980s when I telephoned him at his office, he was often at the Elks Club for lunch which extended into afternoon card games.  His first wife was a Hungarian called Magda, by whom he had a daughter and a son (who predeceased him).   He and Magda divorced and his second marriage was to a widow, Silja, who is Danish.  They had one child: a son called Dana who is now married with children of his own.  Norm died in hospital on 23 July 2018 after cancer had spread from his stomach to his liver.  Despite his failing health, he and Silja attended VNS meetings up to the beginning of this year.

On the numismatic front, Norm was a part-time dealer and participant in shows as well as having a booth in a weekly flea market in Vancouver.  He had a particular interest in B.C. trade tokens, but collected a wide variety of currency, including odd and curious mediums of exchange and political “banknotes”.  At coin shows he would wear a shirt that depicted coins and, sometimes, wore a necklace of bear claws and beads.  Norm was an enthusiastic promoter of our hobby.  He was president of the Canadian Numismatic Association [1971-73], twice president of the Vancouver Numismatic Society [1962-64 and 1990-94], bourse chairman for many years and my mentor when I took over management of the annual coin show in 1994 and, then, the VNS presidency in 1995 (which lasted 14 years).  Norm was also on an advisory committee to appraise Royal Canadian Mint coin designs.  He had been a member of the VNS since 1960 and was always willing to step in to keep the VNS going, as he did in 1990 when most of the executive disappeared and the club was in danger of collapsing.  His concern for the club’s future dominated our last conversations.  No newspaper obituary was published after his death and readers will, I hope, forgive me for relying on my memory to reconstruct his life.  He deserved better.  ~Peter Moogk

Norman Williams

This is a picture of Norm reading the name of the prize draw winner on the stage of the Oakridge Auditorium at our annual coin show in 1993.  He is wearing his trademark necklace of bear claws and beads, but not his coin-themed shirt.


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