Ramsey Muir Withers

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Ramsey Muir Withers
Born (1930-07-28)July 28, 1930
Scarborough, Ontario
Died December 24, 2014(2014-12-24) (aged 84)
Ottawa, Ontario
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch  Canadian Army / Canadian Forces
Years of service 1948-1983
Rank General
Awards CMM, CStJ, CD, LL.D
Other work Deputy Minister of Transport

General Ramsey Muir Withers, CMM, CD (July 28, 1930 – December 24, 2014) was a Canadian Army Officer and Chief of the Defence Staff, the highest ranking position in the Canadian Forces, from 1980-1983. He died of a heart attack in 2014.[1]

Military career[edit]

Born in Scarborough, Ontario to Scottish immigrant parents, Withers spent 35 years in uniform, serving in the Korean War and in command and staff positions throughout Canada and overseas. General Ramsey Withers served 35 years in the Regular Force and six years in the Militia. He served during the Korean War. His reserve service was as Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Governor-General’s Foot Guards. Withers was a professional engineer and a Fellow of Georgian College, holding earned degrees from the Royal Military College of Canada (student # 2951) and Queen's University. He was a graduate of the Canadian Army Staff College and Britain's Joint Services Staff College. He is a graduate of the Canadian Army Staff College and Britain’s Joint Services Staff College.

On graduation from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1952, his first posting was to 1 R 22eR in Korea. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals. His first appointment as a general officer was in 1970 as the founding Commander of Canadian Forces Northern Region, with headquarters in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. He commanded Canadian Forces Europe, in the rank of major-general. In 1977 on promotion to lieutenant-general, he returned to Canada as Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. In 1980, on promotion to general, he was appointed Canada’s sixth Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Principal Commander of the Order of Military Merit. He retired in 1983.[2] He was appointed Deputy Minister of Transport Canada 1983 until 1988, and served under Ministers Pépin, Axworthy, Mazankowski and Crosbie. During which time he was awarded the Commissioner's Award of the Northwest Territories and the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada.[3] He retired from the Public Service in 1988.

Personal life[edit]

He married Alison Saunders, in 1954. She died on 19 October 2011. They are both survived by their son, twin daughters and eleven grandchildren.

Civilian career[edit]

After retirement, Withers became president of a government relations firm, director of an aerospace technology company, a consultant to the Office of the Auditor General and Chairman of the Industry Government Relations Group.[4] From 1988 to 1998, he worked in the private sector as president of one government relations firm and founding chairman of another, as a director of an aerospace technology company and as a consultant to the Office of the Auditor General.

Voluntary Work[edit]

He also continued to be active in volunteer work. In addition to chairing the 1998 Royal Military College Board of Governors Study on Undergraduate Programs (culminating in the Withers Report), Ramsey was the honorary director of the Canadian War Museum. He was a former Trustee of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Chairman of the Canadian War Museum Committee, former Director of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, and an Honorary Vice-President of the Boy Scouts of Canada.[3] Latterly he was chairman

Ramsey Withers is a former Trustee of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation and was, from 1988 to 1995, Chairman of the Canadian War Museum Committee. He is also a former Director of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, and is an Honorary Life Director of the Friends of the Canadian War Museum. From 1997 to 2003 he was an elected member of Queen’s University Council and, was Honorary President of the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada as well as an Honorary Life Member. He also served as a Director of the CDA Institute.

Honours[edit]

Decorations include Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Commander of the Venerable Order of St. John and the Canadian Forces decoration with two bars. He served from 1977 to 1990 on the National Council of Scouts Canada and was awarded the Silver Wolf. Other awards include the Canada Medal (1967), the Canada 125 Medal, The Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilee Medals, The Commissioner’s Award of the Northwest Territories, the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada and the National Transportation Award of Excellence.

Ramsey Withers held two doctorates (honoris causa), was a Fellow of Georgian College and an honorary graduate of the National Defence College and the NATO Defense College. He was the recipient of the 1995 Queen’s University Alumni Achievement Award and the 1996 Bi-Centennial Award of Merit from the City of Scarborough. In 2002, on being nominated by The Royal Canadian Legion, he was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

He was awarded the Commissioner's Award of the Northwest Territories and the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada.[3] He is the winner of the Queen’s University Alumni Achievement Award. He was an honorary graduate of the National Defence College and the NATO Defense College. Archie Cairns composed the General Ramsey M. Withers (3/4 Retreat March 2003) for bagpipes in his honour.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.c-and-e-museum.org/Docs/Ramsey%20Withers%20Obituary.pdf
  2. ^ Biography - General Ramsey M. Withers Archived February 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b c Ramsey Muir Withers
  4. ^ General (retd.) Ramsey Withers - FCWM Director
  5. ^ Major Archie Cairns, M.M.M., C.D. 'Pipe Music Book 2' General Ramsey M. Withers (3/4 Retreat March 2003)
Military offices
Preceded by
R.H. Falls
Vice Chief of the Defence Staff
1977-1980
Succeeded by
G.C.É. Thériault
Preceded by
R.H. Falls
Chief of the Defence Staff
1980-1983
Succeeded by
G.C.É. Thériault