It is with deep regret that Durham University announced the death of Robert Williams. Emeritus Professor Bob Williams died at home in the company of his wife Jean and other family members on Saturday 9 May 2015.
Bob was not only an inspirational lecturer but also a great raconteur and always fun to be around. Above all he was a family man, devoted to his wife, children, grandchildren and his step-family.
Bob joined the Politics Department at Durham in 1971, and retired in 2005. He served as Deputy Dean and then Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, 1984–91, as Principal of St Aidan’s College, 1991–97, and as Professor of Politics and Head of the Politics Department from 1997 to 2001. His teaching and research focused on American politics and on political corruption, particularly in Africa. He was the author or editor of Political Scandals in the USA, Political Corruption in Africa, Politics and Corruption (4 vols), and Party Finance and Political Corruption, as well as over fifty academic papers and articles. He held several visiting appointments at universities in North America and Australia.
Bob had a substantial career beyond the University. He served as a Justice of the Peace for twenty years. He was a member of the board of governors of several local schools, member and sub-committee chair of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Durham, and from 2001 to 2007 Chair of the County Durham Probation Board, a Home Office ministerial appointment. His work on corruption led to numerous consultancy roles for DFID, USAID and the EU Commission, involving visits to developing countries which continued into his retirement from the University. In 2005 he was lead researcher and co-author of a major study for the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre in Norway, Measuring 'Success' in 5 African Anti-Corruption Commissions.
In retirement Bob also developed a career as a public speaker working on cruise ships for Cunard, P&O and Fred Olson Lines (as well as in numerous terrestrial locations), giving acclaimed talks on scandals and corruption with intriguing titles such as ‘The Life and Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe’. In the period since his diagnosis of metastatic prostate cancer in 2013, after a break for treatment, he not only resumed giving talks and served as an external examiner for the International Anti-Corruption Academy in Austria, but also fulfilled a long-held ambition to reinvent himself as a thriller writer, publishing two books, The Corcovado Conspiracy and The Potomac Plot, under the pen-name of Jack Carey.
He is much missed by his family and his friends.