William H John (Bill)
It was with great regret and sadness that the University learned last week of the death of Bill (William H) John who had served on the Court and the Council of the University for a period of 50 years.
His commitment to higher education, together with his involvement with the Church in Wales, is legendary.
Having initially been a teacher of history he was appointed Head of History and Education at South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education. Throughout his career he was closely involved with the Church in Wales and served on the Governing Body for 32 years. That commitment to public service was applied to every organisation with which he became involved.He served on the Council of the University of Wales College of Medicine for 19 years as well as on the Council of the University of Wales.Bill was a former President of the Students' Union of University College Cardiff and had a commitment to the Association of Past Students (APS) which he served both as secretary, chairman and president.
The list of organisations with which he became involved is endless but his greatest commitment was always to the University.
He took great pride in his role as Vice President and the Fellowship which was conferred upon him in 1988.
Those of us who knew Bill well sometimes found it difficult to reconcile this list of achievements with his army career in the late 40s when he served in both India and Burma as Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, but he was rightly proud of both.
I first met Bill through the APS and worked with him as a member of Council for many years. Although I have served in many organisations never had I come across anyone with such meticulous attention to detail and never have I witnessed so many tabs protruding from agenda papers to say nothing of the marginal notes.
Frequent phone calls on a Sunday evening were the order of the day as his scrutiny of the papers for the forthcoming meeting had caused him some concern! Many a Vice-Chancellor or Chair of Council dared not risk being caught off guard. He was the supreme example of the responsibilities placed upon a lay member, able to influence decision making in his own quiet way and, at the same time, being courteous, trustworthy, honest and loyal to the organisation he served.
He was respected throughout the University by academic staff, senior administrators and especially the student union whom he served for many years in many different ways.
Over recent weeks and months I have been aware of Bill's deteriorating health. Never once did he complain always being very appreciative of the expertise of the hospital staff and medical care he received .Even during the past weeks he talked of the future. He had a very strong Christian faith and, through this faith, he set high standards of morality. He will not have been afraid of death though he might have been a little annoyed that he had not lived until the 15th of this month when he would have reached the age of 90 and very disappointed that he did not attend the University Remembrance Service on 11 November where he was by far the most obvious absentee. Oh, and there was just one other matter he might have wished the Council to consider.....
- Mr Dick Roberts CBE Pro Chancellor, Cardiff University