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Obituary: Reginald John (Rex) Williams

Reginald John (Rex) Williams died peacefully on Saturday, 17th February. He was in his 97th year. For the past few years, Rex resided at the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, where he was considered a gentleman by residents and staff alike, and where he received excellent care. Rex’s military service was with the British Army from 1944–1947 in Burma, India, and Germany.

Rex’s long career in book publishing began in England in 1951 when he joined Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons as a trainee. He learned a great deal about the UK book trade from his cousin, Sir Allen Lane, the co-founder of Penguin Books; Rex was fond of saying that he didn’t join Allen Lane at Penguin because others might have looked askance on the family connection.

In 1954 Rex moved to Toronto to manage the office of Pitman Canada and subsequently held positions at Copp Clark and Burns and MacEachern before striking out on his own as a publishers’ representative with his company, Cariad, which he ran until his retirement. With Cariad, Rex represented many Canadian trade and scholarly publishers to bookstores and on campuses across the country. He was a well-known figure in the trade, reliable in his regular visits and generous with his knowledge and with his time. In addition to loving books, Rex loved horses, and his company was named for one of his favourites.

In 2014 Rex received an honorary lifetime membership in the Association of Canadian Publishers, and in 2015 he was invited to become an Honorary Member of the British Association for Canadian Studies; Rex had so many friends amongst the memberships of each of those associations.

For many decades, Rex surrounded himself with books. And from his time at Copp Clark forward through his years at Cariad, Rex introduced many people to the Canadian book trade. He was good at staying in touch, supportive, and friendly, as these colleagues progressed into all different parts of the industry. That is a fine legacy.

There will be a memorial service for Rex at 11:30 am on Saturday, 16th March, in the Chapel of the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook Hospital, 2075 Bayview Avenue.

By: Q&Q Staff

March 12th, 2024

10:07 am

Category: Industry News, People