July 28, 1930 – December 24, 2014
General Ramsey Withers served 35 years in the Regular Force and six years in the Militia; this included the Korean War, appointments in command at all levels and staff positions throughout Canada and overseas; subsequently, his reserve service was as Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Governor-General’s Foot Guards. Commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, on graduation from RMC in 1952, his first posting was to 1 R 22eR in Korea. 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 subsequently commanded Canadian Forces Europe, in the rank of major-general, and, in 1977 on promotion to lieutenant-general, returned to Canada as Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff. In 1980, on promotion to general, he was appointed Canada’s sixth Chief of the Defence Staff and Principal Commander of the Order of Military Merit.
Retiring from the Canadian Forces in 1983, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Transport Canada and served under Ministers Pépin, Axworthy, Mazankowski and Crosbie. He retired from the Public Service in 1988.
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.
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. Latterly he was chairman of the 1998 Royal Military College Board of Governors Study on Undergraduate Programs.
A Professional Engineer, he has degrees from The Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University. He is a graduate of the Canadian Army Staff College and Britain’s Joint Services Staff College. Ramsey Withers holds two doctorates (honoris causa), is 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.
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, currently, is 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.
He married Alison Saunders, in 1954. Sadly, Alison died on 19 October 2011. They are both survived by their son, twin daughters and eleven grandchildren.
Links for General Ramsey M. Withers:
Click Here to view the Official Announcement the General’s passing
Click Here to view Tributes to General Withers
Click Here to view the speech from General Withers to the Joint Task Force and RCMP
Click here to view a Gallery of Photos of General Ramsey M. Withers
Further Links for General Ramsey M. Withers: