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Born: Nov 24, 1927

Date of Passing: Jan 16, 2021

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November 24, 1927 - January 16, 2021

Born to uneducated parents (Harvey Loren and Grace Pearl Williams) on the cusp of the Great Depression, Harvey obtained a BS at the University of Washington and his MS and PhD at Oregon State University and became a professor of science education at the University of Manitoba. Having grown up in forested Grays Harbor Co., Washington State, and aware that his own rise was made possible by public education and other public programs, he was a lifelong advocate for education and the environment.
In 1950, Harvey married Imogene Bryant Williams. He is survived by four children, Ruth, Rachel, Loren and Rebecca and five grandchildren, Nicolo Maurice, Sandor Maurice, Rose Saporito, Justin Williams and Leif Woodford; and four great-grandchildren.
Harvey is also survived by his second wife, Maida Bird Neilson. Forty years of work, advocacy, travel and mutual support created a deeply loyal bond between them. He is survived by three stepchildren, Patrick, Gordon and Laura; and three grandchildren, Alexandra Neilson, Michael Neilson and Brianne Rogers. He is also survived by Allen Spigelman, his bonus child
Harvey served in the US Marine Corps in Korea. When he was discharged in 1951, he obtained a teaching certificate while working at Boeing in Seattle. He taught science in Sultan, WA and in Seattle. He was a founding member of the Seattle Teachers Association. He was also a leader in the Democratic Party, and ran for state legislature in 1958.
In 1969, he taught at Bemidji State University, before moving to the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, in 1971, where he spent the rest of his career as a professor of science education. In the 1980s he landed a large IBM grant which financed Project Prometheus, the purpose of which was to integrate computer technology into the classroom. Harvey became a Canadian citizen in 1978.
A dedicated environmentalist and political activist, he was president of Nature Manitoba, on the board of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the National Parks Board. He was instrumental in the development of Wapusk National Park in northern Manitoba.
In 1997, Harvey and Maida moved into their condo in Victoria, BC. They found the building in disrepair and the finances in disarray. Not content just to make these things right, Harvey helped revitalize the Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association and answered the helpline for many years.
In honour of Harvey's memory, donations may be sent to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 23, 2021

Condolences & Memories (6 entries)

  • Remembered as being a warm hearted exemplar of caring education and encouragement to the individual. A soft smile that told you he cared. - Posted by: Barry Esselmont (Student) on: Oct 21, 2022

  • I was saddened to hear of Harvey's passing. My father Kenneth Slentz was so very fond and proud of his good friend Harvey since 1971. They shared many meals, experiences and multiple friends. My condolences to his family! - Posted by: Patti Slentz (Daughter of a close friend of his and fellow Science Professor) on: Feb 17, 2021

  • Met and worked with Harvey on the Parks Committee of Manitoba Nature and benefited from his depth of knowledge in all the sciences, physical and social, and ability to work with people in a constructive way. He was instrumental in efforts that stopped the development of a 200 unit condo project on Big Whiteshell Lake in 1978/79 and in establishing the master planning process in provincial parks which I had the privilege of helping draft and seconding the legislation implementing it around 1983. All Manitoban's continue to benefit from Harvey's solid efforts. When he and Maida moved to Victoria we re-connected and with friends have benefited from Harvey's incredible depth of knowledge in our weekly Friday lunches for over 20 years and that continued via Zoom right up till early December. We'll all miss our rare polymath and great friend we had in Harvey. And of course we'll miss his succinct letters to the editor debunking myths and explaining the science behind many issues to the public. - Posted by: Don Scott (Friend since 1975, fellow naturalist) on: Jan 24, 2021

  • Maida, News of Harvey's passing cast a cloud of sadness over our house this morning until we began reminiscing about Harvey and you which DEFINITELY raised our mood. Harvey had no peers in Education while he was here: a good scholar, and an outstanding Educator, mentor, community leader, and human being. He surely left the planet a better for his being here. And you, Maida, helped him to realize his goals. Thank you for that, and for the effect you had on our family members. For Mike, you were a memorable positive influence as his teacher FRC. For me, you were the star in a class that I found personally rewarding because I was learning lots from class members. As an update for you, Bev and I retired from U of M shortly after you left Winnipeg. Beginning in 2002 we spent 4-5 months per year in southern Cal, playing golf and developing many new relationships. I stayed on as a senior scholar for 6 years to see grad students finish. We left S Cal last March not sure what we would do in future (definitely was not going to include USA if Trump got re-elected). Now we will see. Mike was married in 89, divorced in 2013, has 2 kids, Alex (at UM in sport medicine) and Leah (web designer), and sold his dental practice to a larger dental office for whom he works w/o having all the administrative work. Daughter Stacey is a nurse in Kenora, two kids: Megan is a social worker with Manitoba Metis Federation, and Joshua who is a lawyer in Kenora, great husband Michael who is manager of So, all is good with. If you return to Winnipeg for any reason, please save some time for a lunch or long chat. Sorry we all lost a really decent human being. Love, John and Bev McIntyre - Posted by: John and b (Former colleaguea) on: Jan 23, 2021

  • I knew Harvey when he was very active with Nature Manitoba (then called Manitoba Naturalists Society). He was the Chair of the Parks Committee when I was a committee member. We soldiered through the fight against condo development in the Whiteshell, as part of a coalition of groups called CLEAR. Happily, the opposition we and our fellow advocates provided did keep the development from happening. I remember Harvey’s good sense of humour, his smile and the twinkle in his eye as he expertly steered our support for parks as natural places and helped us keep inappropriate development of parks at bay. My deepest sympathies to Maida, Harvey’s family and his many friends. - Posted by: Diane Kunec (Fellow Naturalist) on: Jan 23, 2021

  • To the Williams Family. My sincere condolences at this time on the passing of Harvey. Upon retirement from the Manitoba Provincial Parks Branch, I was pleased to have joined Harvey on the Board of the Manitoba Chapter of CPAWS. Under his guidance firm principles were established that live on today. It was a delight when relocating to Qualicum Beach BC and having purchased a Condo to find the VISOA with Harvey on the Board. Our Condo Board, on becoming full members of VISOA participated with full confidence in Workshops and Seminars that Harvey's leadership skills provided. His capabilities lives on in the VISOA and the many strengthened local Condo Boards across the Island. Gord Davidson Qualicum Beach BC - Posted by: Gordon Davidson (Former Colleague Canadian Parks and Wilderness Ass & VISOA ) on: Jan 23, 2021

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