We were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Dr. Charles L. Williams, Jr., who served as PAHO’s Deputy Director from 1967 to 1979. Dr. Williams had a long and distinguished career of public health service to the United States as well as other countries, especially in the Americas.
Dr. Williams spent 26 years in the U.S. Public Health Service, working as an epidemiologist, researcher and administrator for both domestic and international programs. His posts included Deputy Chief of the Public Health Division of ICA (now USAID); Chief of the Office of International Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and Associate Director, Deputy Director, and Director of the Office of International Health of the U.S. Surgeon General. He also served as Chief of the AID Mission to Peru and represented the United States at many international health conferences.
At PAHO, Dr. Williams served as Deputy Director alongside PAHO’s first two Latin American directors, Dr. Abraham Horwitz of Chile, and Dr. Héctor Acuña of Mexico, at a time when the organization’s budget, staff and work were expanding. Drawing on his experience, knowledge and contacts, Dr. Williams provided important leadership that helped position PAHO as a major contributor to health and development in the Americas.
During PAHO’s centennial celebration in 2002, Dr. Williams observed: “The centennial is a very important historical moment, a significant birthday of this organization, which has served the Americas well for 100 years. The people that work for PAHO are a perfectly tremendous and magnificent resource. We always had a terrific group of people working here. What is going to make PAHO move in the future has got to be the people, the staff that work here, the leadership that the organization has.”
Dr. Williams studied medicine at Tulane University and public health at the University of Michigan. He was a fellow of the American Public Health Association and a member of the American Society of Tropical Diseases and Hygiene.
He is survived by two daughters, Ellen C. Williams and Katherine W. Wineberg, as well as five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He is remembered with fondness and respect by all of us who knew him.
Dr. Mirta Roses Periago
Director, Pan American Health Organization