Dr. Gabi Williams, fondly called Gabi by everyone who knew him, was a warm, friendly personality, whose natural disposition to smile and enjoy life was not diminished by his recent challenge. I came to know Gabi about seventy years ago, when both of us as two boys found ourselves in the primary school class in the midst of about 20 other pupils who were all female. In this environment we came to sit together and became friends in the class and subsequently for the rest of our school career in primary and high school.
A great family man, Gabi was married to his devoted wife Bisola of over 50 years. They both rose to the highest positions in the federal civil service. Talk of a power couple! They were blessed with four children, namely Toun, Mope, Jide and Tunde, who are all high achievers and doing tremendously well in their professions. His family has always been a source of pride to Gabi and at intervals during conversations he would remark on how blessed and lucky he was in all his children.
After qualifying as a medical doctor in UK, his first job was a medical officer of the Lagos City Council, an area covering Lagos Island, Apapa, Yaba and Ikoyi, in which the Lagos city council had medical staff and clinics. He was there to report on the state of health in the council area. This resulted in a number of annual reports on the state of health in Lagos.
These reports were all widely regarded and used as source material for Lagos by all including international agencies. In addition he gave regular weekly talk in health issues on Nigerian Radio and wrote a health column in the then leading newspaper: the Daily Times.
It was during this period that he was appointed to the Lagos Executive Development Board (LEDB) on an agency responsible for the allocation of Lands in Lagos. He later transferred his service to the Federal Government of Nigeria, and was for many years a delegate to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. He authored a number of books on health matters.
Gabi was an outdoorsman and he participated in many sporting activities both at the school and in later adult life. I can recall his passion and excellence in table tennis, football and later on squash and golf.
We are all poorer for his demise and may his soul rest in eternal peace.
Wahab Kolawole Animasaun
It is with a heavy heart that I mourn the loss of Dr. Gabi Williams, the “twin brother” of my late husband, Dr. Jerry Grange. It was an open secret that during their lifetime, they were very close in spite of their contrasting temperaments. The hallmark of their friendship was that they gave each other total freedom to be themselves. Gabi’s mother alias “Mama Gabi” was my husband’s adopted mother. These were family ties that meant a lot to both Gabi and Jerry. During Jerry’s final days when he was hospitalized thousands of miles away from Gabi, his one articulated regret was his inability to exchange the usual pleasantries with Gabi at the time that he too was undergoing a rapid decline in his health, and with his dear wife, Bisola who was shouldering the burden of attending to him.
Gabi’s professional competence, his administrative prowess, his dedication to duty, his temperance and his gentle but firm character were attributes that were greatly admired by all of us. He was always ready to render assistance to anyone in need without being judgmental or ‘holier-than-thou’. He was a principled and humble family-man par excellence. This rendered him one of the most consistent and morally upright National Leader of our time.
He will be sadly missed by all of us but we take consolation in the fact that we were privileged to have had the opportunity to benefit from his wisdom, his generosity and his unalloyed friendship.
Rest in Perfect Peace with your brother and friend in the bosom of Our Lord, Jesus Christ! No more pain! No more suffering! No more sorrow!
Professor Nike Grange
The friendship between my late father and uncle Gabi was a special one and went back as far as my childhood days. I can say that my dad truly loved uncle Gabi like a brother and would talk so fondly about memories of them together. I warmly recall them having good times during summer vacations in London - I remember them visiting briefly one late evening and having big laughs over a very spicy Indian meal. Uncle Gabi stood firmly by my father when he had some challenges way back in the 70's. He was full' of advice and guidance. My father always referred to Uncle Gabi as a true friend who stood the test of time. I can only imagine the big friendship reunion in heaven on the passing of uncle Gabi. My prayer is that God will comfort the family and fill the loss in our hearts. May uncle Gabi, Rest In Perfect Peace.
Dokun Omidiora on behalf of Balogun Bisi Omidiora
“Of all the wonders that I yet have heard It seems to me most strange that men should fear Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come.” William Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar.
Bravely, and with graciousness, Dr. Gabi left us on July 27, 2018, after a dogged fight with that diasabling disease, which to date, has no cure, called Alzheimer’s. For me, as his friend, it was devastating. You could then wonder how his wife, Aunty Bisola, and his children, had coped. And coped, they did, supporting him with the best of care and attention until he passed.
I have known Dr Gabi, since I was in high school, and he was the Medical Officer of Health, Lagos City Council. But the story of our meeting would be for another occasion, except that we had both attended the same high school at different times. However, I was to become very close to him, after I accepted the invitation to join the prestigious Metropolitan Club. It was Dr. Gabi who gave me a soft landing in this club. We dined together every time I attended the club’s luncheon on Tuesdays. He had so much to teach, and I had so much to learn. It was through him that I met the Honourable Justice Atanda Fatayi-Williams, who had even more to teach. I always considered myself very lucky.
Dr. Gabi was a story teller, an author and someone who just took an interest in the progress of others, regardless of age. ‘Fola, se WAMCO ti da e lohun; emi ti gba temi o.’ (Have you heard from WAMCO, I’ve received my own dividend’. We would laugh. He had told me the story of how he had contrived his retirement, believing that had he not done so, Aunty Bisola would have protested. He showed so much love and care for her. Unsurprisingly, she remained by his side, until the very end.
While Dr. Gabi may have made his exit easy on us, it really has not been easy to bear, and we will miss him dearly. We pray for the peaceful repose of his soul. Farewell, my dear friend & mentor.
Adieu, to Gabi, a beloved friend and dedicated doctor who contributed so much to the welfare of so many and continued this after his retirement by being the inspiration for the Gabi Williams Alzheimer’s Foundation. May his precious soul rest in peace.
Dr Williams was a very special person. A true professional. Everything I saw him do over the last 50 years was always top class. He was well known in his early days as a true professional, he was highly competent and always did what was right. He was a curious person willing to learn new things, and was open minded, willing to enter into discussions with anybody regardless of education or social class.
Following an admission notice I received in Lagos, I arrived in London one Friday in October 1958, one week late, to join St Mary’s Hospital Medical School of the University of London. The Dean formally admitted me and his secretary remarked that as they had already admitted a couple of Nigerians, she would send for one of them to meet and show me round. Gabi soon appeared and happily took me in hand. There began our 60 year old friendship.
Three attributes of Gabi soon struck me. First is his genuine friendliness. Gabi’s predominant reaction was to laugh or smile. Second was his exceptional memory in medical school. He could recall virtually every word spoken by every lecturer and had little need to take notes, unlike the rest of us! Third was his remarkable loyalty and integrity. He showed unshakeable devotion to one special woman called Bisola, who was in Nigeria and was then unknown to us, his friends in London. He was very certain she would become his wife and was unwilling, despite numerous opportunities over the years in London to date any woman, including those who were clearly interested or who we his friends had recommended. Time eventually revealed how right he was about Bisola, whose wonderful love, care and support have been remarkable!.
Gabi chose to specialise in Public Health and gave excellent services to Lagos State and eventually to the Federal Ministry of Health in that capacity.
Gabi remains a genuine friend and despite the ravages of Alzheimer on his memory, his humility, kindness, integrity and loyalty make him a rare, but true gentleman worthy of emulation by the younger generation.
He will always remain in our hearts even as his soul rests In peace!
Professor Olu Akinyanju, OON
I came into contact with Gabi, as he was fondly called, through his late mother, Alhaja Wusamotu Williams-Dosunmu, popularly known as Wus-Ala, a highly intelligent and shrewd business woman who traded in modern textiles during her time.
Gabi used to teach me mathematics, and I can recall as far back as 1955/56 when I used to seek his assistance in solving certain mathematical problems!
On returning from London after graduating as a doctor, he worked at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital Outpatient Clinic at Yaba, where I also had the opportunity of working under him as a clinical student. This was in 1964.
When Gabi took over the headship of the health department of the Lagos City Council, he performed creditably, beyond the expectation of many despite his very short career by that stage. His leadership style was unique. He initiated continuous postgraduate training programmes for his medical team abroad in places like Johns Hopkins University, America, and the universities of Glasgow, Liverpool and London in the UK. He also established further training for the nursing staff, the public health inspectors and the health services administrators. He conducted regular departmental staff meetings of the senior management team, too. Dr Williams was the ONLY head of department, at that time, that published annual reports, a tradition that soon extended to other local governments in Lagos. Those annual reports gained international recognition through the World Health Organization and universities in the UK and the US.
Dr Gabi Williams was not only my boss. He was my mentor. He encouraged me to publish articles in local and international journals, for example. He was a gift of a role model. He was very humble, peace-loving and harmless. He never as a boss put down ANY of his subordinates – on the contrary, he was an encourager, a ‘pull him up’ person.
May God in HIS infinite mercies grant him eternal rest in Paradise.
Dr. M. Y. I. Salami
I am humbled and privileged to write this tribute to the late Dr Gabi Williams, of blessed memory.
I first knew Gabi in London whilst I was studying there and he was at the Medical School at St Mary's, Paddington.
When I returned to Nigeria in the mid-sixties, I got to know his amiable, loving and caring wife, Mrs (Dr) Abisola Williams and a friendship developed between us. I remember spending some happy moments with them when they were living at Lugard Avenue, Ikoyi.
Over the years, when he was the Director of Public Health Services, at the Fedeal Ministry of Health, I was working for the World Health Organization in Lagos, at that time. Our Office was situated on the same floor of the Federal Ministry of Health. He was such an asset to the Organization.
I can draw a long list of his many achievements as a noble professional, a good sportsman, an eloquent speaker, etcetera, etcetera........
It is said that the strength of a man is in his character; Dr Williams was a strong and great man of wisdom who understood that his top priority was his family. He was a pillar and a rock in the Williams' family; a steady influence, a firm but fair arbiter in a large family characterised by strong, dominant personalities. He borned this reponsibility with grace and humility, with patience and good humour.
Dr Williams was warm hearted, kind, gentle, calm, hardworking, trustworthy, dependable . I have fond memories of how he used to shower so much love and care to his family, his siblings, in-laws and friends.His wife and children were blessed to have an amiable, loving, caring husband, father and grandfather whose steps they will always find inspiration.
May his enduring legacy live on through his wonderful wife, children and grandchildren.
He will be greatly missed and I pray that his soul will continue to rest in perfect peace, Amen
Mrs Yinka Faleye (nee Curtis)
We met at the golf court, doctor Gabi Williams love to play golf. He is always interested in sport. The professional team that he supported was Manchester United. I take him as a gentle man, whom I was privileged to meet and whom I loved very much. We used to interact, and I used to be with him in his bed room, eating with him and enjoying ourselves. He was a perfect gentleman.
Engr. Yomi Adeyemi Wilson
My father has gone home for good. I am short of words. I hand you over to Allah the most gracious.
Alhaji Moshood Owolabi
Great Gabi!! As I always called him. He was a unique gentleman to the core. I became very close to him during his medical student days in London with my late husband Prof. Sola Okuwobi (his very good friend). He became our best man when we got married and that relationship blossomed into a happy big family up to date.
Gabi was a dependable and reliable person. He was always there for me as someone I could talk to on anything. He would listen, express his own opinion and give constructive advice. He bore no grudge with anybody and money cannot buy his infectious smile. His dear wife Abisola Williams is my sister and a good friend, his children are my children and his late mother was my mother. My children and I will surely miss him.
May he soul rest in the bossom of the Almighty God. Amen.
From Dupe Okuwobi Children
Uncle Gabby, it is such as shame to lose you at this time. Unfortunately, no death is timely. Firstly, Doctor Gabby Williams, as he was known by people so close to him, was a very intelligent person. One specific thing I admire a lot about him was the amount of respect he commanded; kind hearted and caring. A man of repute and with a dignifying aura about him. He was highly influential with regards to the medical field in Lagos and Nigeria at large.
God broke our hearts to prove to us that he only takes the best. Rest in peace, Uncle.
Dr (Mrs) Folashade Akintomide
I served under Dr Gabi Williams as a Chief Occupational Health Nursing Officer for 17 years. He was then the Director, Environmental and Occupational Health Division, Federal Ministry of Health, Yaba.
As a boss he was kind, sympathetic and gave credit when it was necessary. He inspired me to always do my best and even sometimes when I felt frustrated and would have ‘thrown in the towel’, he encouraged me to go the ‘extra mile’.
Dr Williams gave everyone his or her due respect and always listened to both sides of a story. He has a great sense of humor and was never groveled. He operated an ‘open door’ policy which drew him near to all members of staff.
He hardly lost his temper. It was not his style to vent anger or frustration on any of the staff. He was also never one afraid to admit his mistakes. Employees were like a family. He made it known that everyone had an important role to play.
The best I can do for my ex-boss at this time is the say “ Sir, you are gone but will never be forgotten, as your contribution to the development of your special field of Public Health has been well documented , and you will always be remembered by those whose lives you touched”. Goodbye, Rest well in the bosom of the Lord.
To the family, I will say that you were truly blessed to have this fine gentleman in your lives. May the good Lord help you bear his loss with both spiritual and emotional fortitude.
Mrs Megan-Rose Olusanya.
We were served notice of Dr. Gabi Willams’ farewell which climaxed with his 80th birthday celebration in an environment and circumstances thrown into tumult and bewilderment as our instinctive disposition to thank the Almighty that he had lived a long life of superlative achievements – as a great family man; an outstanding doctor; an illustrious public servant versus our subdued grief and shock on sighting the celebrant in a wheel chair – a mere shadowy reflection of our beloved brother and friend, when he was presented with his birthday cake at the Metropolitan Club, Victoria Island, Lagos.
What had become of his vibrancy, infectious good humour, and sportsmanship (on the squash court, the golf course and as umpire in the boxing ring)? That is now history.
Now, we have to deal with the final curtain as he takes his bow. It has been a long good-bye but through it all he remained calm, steadfast and dignified.
He neither wallowed in self-pity nor moaned about his affliction. Till his last breath he fought bravely.
His greatness was firmly anchored on his humility and mostly self-deprecating good humour. To all, he extended friendship, generosity of spirit and goodwill without any regard for creed, colour or gender. In all the years since I got to know him, not once did I ever hear him say an unkind word in jest or anger against any man or woman.
To call him a gentleman is an understatement. He truly earned the prefix and adjective “perfect” to deserve the double honour of being undisputedly a perfect gentleman.
Beyond that, he was everybody’s brother and I can testify to his integrity, uprightness and patriotism. He served both Lagos State and Nigeria with uncommon zeal and passion.
His soul mate, his darling wife Mrs. Abisola Williams, his children and siblings are truly blessed to have been bequeathed an inestimable legacy of enduring hope and excellence.
It is now time to summon the auditors to take stock and tell us how many like Dr. Gabi Williams are left.
May his great soul rest in perfect peace.
Bashorun J.K. Randle, FCA; OFR
My Personal Tribute to a very dear person: “Papa Toun”
I have known "Papa Toun" popularly known, called and addressed, as "Gabi" all my adult life. He is Papa Toun to me not just because he married my sister, Sis. Bisola or because Toun his oldest child and daughter is a viable replica of her father in many ways, but because calling him Papa Toun affirms his essence to me as a Friend, my informal Counsellor, above all my ‘Resource person’ for evaluating my potential candidates when I was considering a future mate (smile). Papa Toun has great insights about people and relationships. Papa Toun was my Friend. I spent some part of my young adult days on holidays in his house. Papa Toun was very easy to talk to. He was conversational and attentive. He has a purity of heart not common in most people. He was never judgmental about anything and anyone. He was at most times quite objective in his evaluation of people and situations. Papa Toun has a genuine and friendly nature. He is a remarkably authentic person. There was no slyness about him. What you see is what you get. He was an open hearted and an open minded person. Papa Toun has this innocent simplicity that endears him to all. There is not an iota of arrogance or superiority complex in his bones. He was also very helpful to many who come to him for help. These are some of the attributes that attracted me to him when growing up.
Papa Toun has a great sense of humour. With his large throaty laugh that conveys remarkable comfort and ease with people he would tease everyone including my sister and make remarkably funny comments about things. At the same time, he was a very compassionate person and highly sympathetic. In any quandary I would talk to him, he would listen. I am always assured of some words of wisdom. Papa Toun has this sensitivity about people's welfare. As soon as I show up in his house, He would always ask me "Nike se Alafia ni" not in an intrusive way but as a genuine interest in my well-being.
Papa Toun was a viable head of his household, a provider, a model husband, the husband of one wife (smile) which however does not preclude him from admiring beauty wherever he sees one. He observes niceness and subtleties in people. Papa Toun was not a pretentious or a fawning husband who is trying to compensate for some hidden errant behaviour. He is a husband, well-grounded and well aware of his role, expressing dependence when he needs it, like asking my sister what to wear for an outing. I was watching. Papa Toun takes personal responsibilities for things that are in his sphere of expertise. The others he delegates to his wife by saying "teacher ni egbon e". Papa Toun was also a connoisseur of food. He knows about food. He was very hospitable and generous with food in his house although I never saw him in the kitchen (smile). He offers food that he did not cook (smile) to every guest that comes to his house with his perennial invitation “se o ti jeun” or “come and eat with us”.
Papa Toun’s work as a civil servant did not limit his exposure to the international concepts of his job. He was a professional to the core, always updating himself about the issues of his job on Public Health. He was always sharing thoughts about the latest developments and I was always listening. Papa Toun remained knowledgeable and skilled in what he does. He was very perceptive, quite analytical with deep insights to issues and concepts. In these days of corrupt civil servants in Nigeria, Papa Toun remained above board and incorruptible. He was a very contented person. His name remained untarnished till the end.
Papa Toun was a great parent who took pride in his children's achievements. He would share updates about their progress not in a conceited way. At the same time he would ask about mine and how they are doing. Papa Toun was an ultimate family person starting with his remarkable relationship with his unit family, his wife and children, to his relationship with his siblings even the ones he could not understand, and to his extended family. I observed over the years his interactions, commitment and respect for his uncles and cousins etc etc. Above all it was special and precious watching his warm devotion and the nearly elegant way he related to his beloved mother "Iya Gabi" and how she related to him too. He was an ultimate quintessential family person.
Papa Toun's favorite discussions centered on religion. Coming from a Muslim background and marrying into a strong Christian family was a dynamics I watched closely simply because I ended up doing exactly the same thing, marry into a strong Muslim family. He would attend religious and church events with the family. He was always very welcoming and warm to members of the various Christian fellowship hosted by his wife in his house. He might tease us about certain aspects of religious behavior but he was never ever bigoted. I thank God for Papa Toun. I thank God for a life well spent. I thank God for his many achievements in life. Above all I thank God that I am a significant though very small part of Papa Toun's esteemed life. Papa Toun was not perfect, no one is except God, but he was a very good role model. I take solace in his unique life and the privilege of having had him in my life and knowing him so intimately.
Papa Toun, go in Peace to meet your Maker. You have run a Good Race. May the Road rise to meet you. May the Angels carry you on their wings. May your entire family be comforted. May all of us who were close to you continue to remember you for the special gracious person that you were. Adieu my dear friend, Papa Toun. You are loved. Eternal sweet repose in the Lord to a very dear person who was more a Friend to me than an in-law.
Rev. Dr. Adenike Banjo Yesufu.
I was adopted by Dr Gabisiu & Dr Mrs Bisoia Williams after my father's death, By the Grace of God through their help I was able to complete my Secondary School and get the best education at Northwestern University Evanston Illinois USA.
From 1968 He had been a true & devoted father who genuinely wanted the BEST for anyone he came in contact with.
May God grant him sweet repose in the most Precious name of Jesus, Amen.
It is with mixed emotions that we write this tribute in memory of our dear Uncle Gabby. Ever charming, ever smiling, ever joking but giving very stern advise about life when needed, doing all that could be done to make us feel welcome and at home. He was ever so loving and caring, taking an interest in everything about us, our careers, our lives and our wellbeing. He was an amiable man, very diligent, faithful and ever willing to give of himself. With his great sense of humour, there was never a dull moment. His love for and commitment to the service of humanity was admirable and we consider it a privilege that he played a fatherly role in our lives.
Uncle Gabby, we will miss you dearly. We however take solace in the fact that there is a resurrection morning when the saints who died in the Lord will be re-united, never to part again.
We pray that God will uphold Aunty, Toun, Mope, Jide and Tunde, and all who loved you so dearly, who with us became members of your family. God will wipe away our tears and cause us instead to celebrate the life you lived, one that was fulfilled and full of great achievements.
Rest in Peace in the bosom of the Lord.
Aunty Bisola Williams’s Angels
The great Uncle Gabby.
How do I start to talk about a man who was my mentor, my friend and father to me.
Words cannot say not express sufficiently the many things I would love to say about uncle Gabby. He was one of the most civilized, cultured and genuine person I have ever known. He was full of integrity and never compromised, Uncle Gabby was humble and gentle and accommodating.
He was an epitome of what I believe a perfect husband and a perfect father would be. The perfect gentleman, I learnt a great deal from spending time with him.
His life style depicted and reflected a real God fearing man. His acts and deeds, the way he conducted his life, the way he portrayed himself, everything he did was a true reflection that he indeed loved God and feared Him.
He was an extremely intelligent, successful, ethical and incorruptible man.
I really miss his sense of humor and those comments he always makes when we were watching Manchester United play.
I wish and I pray Nigeria have more people of uncle Gabby’s character and values to lead this nation out of where it is now and in the future.
I know heaven has gained another angel.
Fare Ye well uncle Gabby. Sun re o.
Your friend & son
Anthony Kojo Williams
Dr Williams was quite funny and witty. My husband and I spent a fair bit of time with him gisting in front of the telly. He had plenty of stories about his mother. He gave us good advice on making investments early on in life and dissuaded us from wasting money! He converted many of his mother’s old “laces” into buba and şokoto for himself – an example of how not to waste money. He shared the books he wrote with us. I enjoyed his company. He always gave us bottles of groundnuts and cashew nuts during our visits to his bedroom.
Temitayo Okunoren-Makindipe & Very Rev. Olusola Makindipe
Deepest condolences. My Dad worked with Dr Williams in the late 70s and 80s and has the fondest memories with him and Aunty Bisola. Our family joins you in your prayers. Sending lots of love to you all.
This gentle man, kind to the core, has left us! May his soul rest in perfect peace.
Aunty, Toun, Mope, Jide and Tunde, I am so sorry. May God give you and the rest of the family the strength to bear this loss. He will be fondly remembered.
Kudirat Bello and the Fasholas
Uncle was a caring man who helped out when one was in need. I remembered how he got involved when I went to him informing him about an idea I had for a fashion for AIDS awareness. He called a Dr. Tilley-Giado, to assist because I wanted the Federal Ministry of Health to be involved in sponsoring the show. However, the federal government decided it wouldn’t assist. That was in 1991.
Uncle was a true gentleman who was witty and had an infectious smile. He certainly, was strong during his illness because he overcame. His last few weeks in hospital when Aunty would talk to him he would smile. That was endearing.
Aunty you’re a virtuous lady and a true inspiration to us all. That no matter the circumstance you’d always be there for your family and your adopted children.
Thank you, for the person you are.
Those friends who came by to check on Uncle shows that there are still people who know the true meaning of “friendship.”
May God be with and comfort the Williams’ and may the good LORD be with Aunty, Olatoun, Mope, Jide and Tunde.
Thank you, LORD for being with the family and for providing for them.
Rest with the LORD, Uncle.
Psalm 116 verse 15 says: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Daddy Gabi was a saint, in his act of giving to the less privileged ones, and a great philanthropist. I remember vividly the fatherly advice he often blessed me with: “Don’t buy too many clothes; save your money; buy stock.”
Daddy you have gone to have eternal rest in the bosom of the Lord. Your dynamic legacies will always remain in the hearts of so many. I join the family and all who knew you to say “ I love you but the Lord loves you more.”
Daddy was a great father. A loving, caring, sympathetic father. He taught me how to be a man. Continue to rest in the bosom of the Lord.
Dr Gabi was a very good, cheerful and kind-hearted man. He was the epitome of sincere love – he did not pretend. He was a disciplined and jovial man. In all of the years I knew him, prior to his ill health, there was never a dull or sad moment. He was always full of life, jokes and was welcoming.
He lived a very, very simple and godly life worth emulating. What a humble man! He will be sadly missed by all. Words cannot be enough to describe this humble man.
Adieu, rest in peace, till we meet to part no more.
Tribute from Kunle and Tope Ajayi
It is indeed with sense of appreciation and love that we write this tribute to Dr. Gabby Williams, the beloved husband of our childhood friend and classmate Dr. Abisola Williams.
We met Gabby during his “toasting period” of Bisola, and soon we knew that it would end in a marriage made in heaven.
To know Gabby is to love him, and as we grew up, Gabby “ikan ninu awon oko wa” became our genuine, frank adviser, helper and supporter. Any problem taken to Gabby was solved with reassurance.
Gabby’s love, support and devotion to Bisola was unparalled hence we named them “Itu ati Fali”. He was a fine gentleman, gifted and blessed but simple. He was committed to his children and ensured he gave them a good legacy of sound education, humility and prudency.
Gabby’s warm disposition towards others earned him many friends, school daughters and sons who have now become his extended family members. Any child touched by Gabby was turned to Gold!
As an excellent family physician and Public Health Consultant, Gabby was Medical Officer of Health in Lagos. During his time, he developed and raised the Lagos Ministry of Health to an enviable level. He was a formidable leader, respected by all his members of staff, and his name became a household word in Lagos.
Death, where is thy Sting? Despite his ill health in later years, Gabby by HIS Grace, lived to a ripe age of 80 years +. His love and help to others made many people to stand by his family till the END. This man of God and Peace, who touched the lives of others positively, passed away with a Smile on his face! Alleluia.
We shall miss Gabby’s jokes, his generosity and reassuring words, but our consolation is that he has gone to his Maker. He fought a good fight, finished the course, kept the faith and won the CROWN, 2 TIM 4: 7-8. May his kind and gentle soul Rest in Perfect Peace. Amen
Our thoughts go out to Bisola, Olatoun, Mopelola , Jide and Latunde and the entire family at this trying period. IT IS WELL!
Dame Prof Ajesola Majekodunmi
President on behalf of MGHS Club 57
I write to commiserate with you and your entire family on the passing into Eternal Glory of your husband, our brother and friend, Dr. Gabisiu Ayodele Williams. Our heartfelt condolences to you and your children.
I will particularly miss Uncle’s humour. On one of our golfing outings, as we approached the caddie's stand, his regular caddy came jubilantly to announce to Uncle that his wife gave birth the previous day. Uncle characteristically answered him, "what a coincidence; mine too gave birth just last night – it might be wise on your part to keep what you are thinking of giving me, and I'll keep what you may be expecting from me, so that way, we are even!". I'll miss Uncle greatly. The banter between Uncle and Aunty especially following him home after a game, typically involved joke–telling and some serious political discourse. He was one in a million, and he will be sorely missed.
It is our prayer that the ALMIGHTY GOD will grant him the comfort that he missed the last days of his life and accept his gentle soul at His bosom.
We pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will console you and grant you companionship. You shall never be alone, and your memory of him will keep you going.
Please accept the assurance of our fellowship at this your moment of sorrow.
SEYI & TUNDE J. AFOLABI, MFR
I met Dr Gabi Williams in 1981 at the Federal Ministry of Health. He was Chief Consultant, Environmental and Occupational Health Unit, and I was Medical Officer of Health. My first impression of him was that he was a confident, very well dressed and extremely intelligent gentleman. I was very fortunate that he took to me and he guided me about my career, business and life. He made sure that I excelled both technically and administratively, encouraging me to take on new challenging areas and guiding me through them. The type of exposure that I got from him was second- to- none. It was, indeed, these experiences that have guided me in my professional life till date. He said, “You have to be a good public health doctor. You have to be able to deal with and overcome epidemics and other health-related situations anywhere in Nigeria”. We certainly dealt with issues relating to yellow fever, Lassa fever etc amongst other endemic diseases effectively.
Your motto was ‘everything in moderation’. You always held the view that all was vanity. Contentment was your watchword. You enjoyed yourself thoroughly with Aunty Bisola and your children. You always said time spent with family was all that mattered. You made me play golf. I remember the day you took me to the golf course. I was in a suit. That didn’t deter you from insisting that I walked eighteen holes with you. I thank you for that. Today golf is my main sport. You insisted I joined the Metropolitan Club the year I turned 40. We were on the same table, Table 7. I thank you, Sir, for this.
At a very young age you taught me that it was important to plan for the rainy day. You introduced me to stocks and shares and at every opportunity you encouraged me to buy them no matter how small. Thank you, Sir.
Oga you are and will always be missed.
Dr. Gabisiu Ayodele Williams, a quintessential gentleman, a man of honor, a highly respected public health physician. Adieu
Dr. Segun Oshin
Pa Gabi Williams was introduced to me by my bosses. First, at Dunlop Nigeria plc by the MD- Mr. Dayo Lawuyi, and, later, at Guaranty Trust Bank plc, also by the MD- Mr. Fola Adeola. On each of the two occasions he was making enquiries regarding his shareholding in the company and I had the privilege of addressing the problems as Company Secretary. Not long after the GTBank meeting, Pa Gaby and Ma’ Williams became parishioners at Church of the Resurrection, 1004 Estate, where I am also a parishioner. I reintroduced myself, and that marked the beginning of a wonderful and beneficial relationship for me. He became a mentor, who I look unto in many ways as a role model and friend.
I refer to Pa Gabi as a friend with every sense of humility, but that was the nature of the relationship, and a reflection of his personality, notwithstanding the age gap between him and myself. Though I was content to visit him and chat, he would often return my visits. He was the first person to visit my office in far-away Ikota, after I took an early retirement from banking. Whenever we met, we talked about anything, and from each of our discussion, there were lessons for me to learn. Our discussions spanned his youthful days at Methodist Boys High School, medical school and his illustrious career in the health sector, both in Lagos state, and at federal level.
Pa Gabi influenced my personal development in many positive ways. In the early days of our relationship, our discussion usually commenced invariably with him asking- ‘Kolapo, se o’ n save?’ I would tell him how I was doing, and we would spend time to discuss equities doing well and those challenged. He shared personal experiences regarding his investments. I can confirm that some important beneficial investment decisions I took were inspired by him, for which I remain very grateful. Pa Gabi had a wonderful sense of humour. Always a joy to be with. You could never be bored being with him. He would punctuate discussions with anecdotes, some of which would make you laugh and make your eyes water.
Pa Gabi was an avid golfer. He introduced me to golf, showing through himself and his friends that it is a sport you could enjoy till old age. His concern about the health and well-being of professionals was the typical subject of conversation between us. He not only talked about it, he published books, including ‘House Doctor – Health and Medical Problems Explained’ (1997); and ‘The Health of the Executive’ (1999). He gave me copies of the books which he personally autographed.
Pa Gabi lived a good life. God blessed him and allowed him to see his children record successes greater than his own. He was also happy to see the successes of many others, in whom he took personal interest. His is a life that must be celebrated. Farewell, Pa Gabi. You were a wonderful and impactful role model, an embodiment of love and care. Rest in perfect peace
I was very sad when I heard about the demise of Dr Gabi Williams.
I have never met anybody so considerate of others as Gabi Williams. ‘The child is the father of the man’ is a cliché that is well known. Coming from a privileged background gave him a sense of noblesse oblige throughout his life.
Gabi was born to an affluent Lagos family 81 years ago. Both his mother and father were Muslims. Young Gabi went to Ansarudeen Primary School, Alakuro, on the island of Lagos, and then to Methodist Boys’ High School, also on the Island of Lagos. His parents, though Muslims, were liberal enough to permit the young Gabi to acquire a western education wherever it was available. So, as soon as Gabi finished his school certificate examination, and, having performed very well in the sciences, his parents sent him to Great Britain for his Advanced Level in the sciences which he completed within a year with the idea of studying medicine. Medicine was his choice because in those days law was the preferred career choice of his contemporaries in Lagos and among his uncles and cousins – his cousin the late justice Fatai Williams became the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Armed with an impressive set of A-Level results, Gabi was admitted into Saint Mary’s medical school and graduated with MB, BS in 1963. After his internship in the same hospital, he proceeded to the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Hygiene and Public Heath in Baltimore, Maryland, for his postgraduate studies. Having acquired an excellent medical education, Gabi could have remained in either Britain or America to build for himself a prosperous private medical practice. However, Gabi came home because he knew his Lagos environment needed his service.
Gabi became a medical officer of health in Lagos and was later elevated to Chief Health Officer of Lagos. The federal government, appreciating his sterling quality and service, brought him into the federal service where he rose to the post of Director of Disease Control and International Health. It was in this capacity that he represented Nigeria for a considerable number of years in the executive boards of the WHO, UNDP, and the WHO Special Programme of Research and Training on Tropical Diseases.
Gabi’s achievements were made easy by the contribution to his life of his equally talented wife. Bisola, his wife, graduated from the University of Ibadan. She joined the federal civil service and rose to the esteemed post of Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, during the tumultuous years of the Ibrahim Babangida regime – her Christian belief shielded her from the pressure and pull on her by very powerful people to bend the rules in their favour. The strong guiding hand of Gabi’s wife was many times decisive on the choices Gabi Williams made in life. Certainly, marrying a virtuous woman was an added advantage to Gabi Williams.
At home in Nigeria, Gabi once served as chairman of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. As a result of Gabi’s deep knowledge and practical experience in the spheres of public and preventive medicine, he on several occasions gave lectures in his areas of specialty at the universities of Ibadan and Lagos.
He retired voluntarily from the federal service in 1993. Although retired, he was not tired: Gabi wrote bestselling books on health matters. He continued to play sport – Gabi was a sportsman right from primary school where he developed a love for ping-pong – particularly squash as a young man and, in his later years, golf, which was almost an obsession for him. He was a member of several social/sports clubs in Lagos.
Gabi was a happy-go-lucky kind of a man, and he never wanted anyone to be sad around him. He laughed infectiously, and as a doctor his attitude was that life is short and should be lived well. He definitely lived well without being hedonistic. There was never a whiff of scandal around him. He was a gentleman to the core. There were two things that he had encyclopaedic knowledge about, namely, medicine and lawn tennis. If he was available, he ensured that he was in England during the finals of the Wimbledon tennis championship. When global beaming of this championship became available, he always sat by the television not wanting to be disturbed or distracted from watching his beloved passion of tennis. One interesting thing about his love for tennis was his preference for grass-court tennis, which is the defining feature of Wimbledon. He did not show the same kind of passion for the Australian, French or American Open championships. This makes one feel that Gabi was an Anglophile at heart, and he did love almost everything British. Of course, he was ‘au courant’ with advances in medicine worldwide and was very concerned about how the quality of education was declining in Nigeria.
He was also concerned about the quality of life in Nigeria, notably, the consequences of the collapse of the electricity sector and the lack of supply of potable water in most parts of Nigeria. This was a real headache for somebody with such a deep knowledge of public health. He had to be self-sufficient in these two areas in his own home through the use of a borehole and giant generators and this made him concerned that if this was happening to him in Victoria Island, where the elite and well-heeled people live, what would be happening in the poor areas where the vast majority of Nigerian humanity live? He used to ask for my views about the direction of our politics, somehow feeling I might have an understanding of what is a complex problem of an enigma wrapped in a puzzle.
Dr Williams cannot be easily forgotten. His laughter, his joie de vivre, his sharing whatever he had, his love for fellow human beings, his generosity, his friendship across generations, his patriotic love for his native Lagos and his love for Nigeria as a whole and his wish that Nigeria would realise it’s destiny… It is a pity he didn’t live to see Nigeria’s potentiality become a reality.
My late wife, Abiodun, and I and our children enjoyed the love and joy of being welcomed into the Williams’ house and being cared for after I lost my wife. I pray to Almighty God to repay him with eternal bliss.
A distinguished man who truly and passionately loved this country and worked for better health of all Nigerians has departed. He will always be appreciated. Family and friends can and must be proud of his contributions. He was bold and ready to support the young who themselves are also now attaining old age. Condolences to all as we bask in his unusual humanity.
Dr Gabi pushed me into public health and working for the council. I remain eternally grateful.
Abiola Tilley-Gyado (colleague at the Federal Ministry of Health)
I knew this season was upon us but in my selfishness, I held out hope that amidst all the odds there would be more time. Alas, I woke up to the sad news on JuIy 28, you had journeyed on the previous day, July 27. In all things I give God the praise for your long and fulfilled life and for the privilege and blessing of having known you as a father while living with you in Lagos.
In writing this tribute, I wanted to find the perfect words and eloquent manner to convey my thoughts but too many disjointed memories kept flowing through my mind. I remembered the doctor who always lectured me on how I must eat the right things because what I put into my body determines my future. Then I remembered the financial wiz Uncle Gabi, who on many evenings would ask me to sit in his bedroom as he read excerpts from his financial book and advised that the best thing a man could do was to ensure adequate investments.
I remembered the stories you told about your radio shows from back in the day. Then I would remember how you introduced me to my first Frejon meal and how you explained its significance to Lagosians. I recalled the Easters, Christmases, and many birthday celebrations I had the privilege of sharing with you and the family. And the support and encouragement you gave me with my various initiatives by physically gracing my programs even when you had many other events competing for your time. But most importantly, Uncle, I treasure the lessons I learned from watching your daily interactions as a devoted husband to Aunty Bisola, a loving father to Toun, Mope, Jide and Tunde, a doting grandfather to Damilare and his cousins and an absolutely phenomenal and loyal friend to your peers and many who were associated with you, which was easily discernible from the quality and strength of your friendships and relationships. In your humble and patient trademark manner, you treated everybody the same and never set a hierarchy with people who were fortunate to come your way.
On a personal level, Oby and I will never and can never forget the impact you have had on our lives and the love you were so gracious to share as a father making us feel very welcome on our return to Lagos from the US. Sun re Our Darling Uncle, it is our hope that you are finally resting peacefully in the bosom of the Lord. We pray that the Good Lord give Aunty and the rest of the family the strength and fortitude to withstand such a unique loss. You have fought the good fight and left an indelible mark on the rest of us who remain on this earth. Farewell Omo Olu Abi like you would jokingly call me on many occasions. Farewell my sweet father