Saying goodbye to Maurice Williamson



The forestry sector lost a beloved steward, friend and trusted voice last week. Former small forest landowners champion and forestry elder statesman, Maurice Williamson, passed away on Sunday, March 3rd. He was 77 years old.

Though born and raised in northeast Missouri, Maurice spent more than a half century (53 years) in Washington state as a professional forester and advocate for small forest landowners. Maurice initially attended the University of Missouri thinking he would be an attorney or pathologist. But after a meeting with his father and former high school counselor, Maurice said in a 2019 interview with the Spokesman-Reviewhe decided to pursue a career in forestry.

A job with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources brought Maurice to the Pacific Northwest where he worked as a forester in Omak, the Olympic Peninsula and Republic. Maurice prided himself on being among the first certified professional foresters recognized by the Society of Professional Foresters, noting his certification was number 27 out of the entire United States.

In 1981, Maurice opened his own consulting business in Colville, serving as a valued advisor on timber management, contract negotiations and working with stakeholders and policymakers on timber policy for 42 years.

In the early 1980’s, Maurice joined the Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA). During his time at WFFA, he served as the Northeast Chapter President in 1982 and then WFFA State President from 1993-1997. Maurice continued to serve in many volunteer capacities after his tenure as WFFA president, including representing the heart of WFFA in eastern Washington for many years.

As a steadfast WFFA supporter, Maurice recognized that cultivating an ongoing succession of leaders and was essential to ensure WFFA remained a robust organization that continues to support and represent the interests of its members. To that end, Maurice was known to invite landowners to attend a northeast WFFA meeting. And with the offer of a “free lunch,” Maurice would then nominate them from the floor during elections. That is how Alan Walker remained in the WFFA vice president position for years, said WFFA executive director Elaine Oneil.

“Maurice had a keen intellect, quick wit, and a wee bit of devilish mischief in his soul,” Oneil said.

Oneil noted Maurice helped many landowners achieve their goals and was always interested in talking about forest policy. He was known to many as a good friend, and to colleagues as the one who did not shy from pointing out the obvious – especially when it was a difficult topic that others danced around.