The American floral endowment (AFE) announced a new commemorative tribute to the memory of Robert “Bob” Williams II. Smithers-Oasis CEO Robin Kilbride, along with Red and Katie Kennicott of Kennicott Brothers Company, created the fund.
Robert “Bob” Williams II, AAF, PFCI, former vice president of North American operations for Smithers-Oasis, passed away with his family by his side on September 27, 2021, at the age of 75. Bob was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in March 2020.
Bob was an industry champion, an active volunteer leader and a business expert. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Vermont in 1969. He completed graduate studies at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. There he focused on strategic marketing, channel conflict management, and critical resource management. He obtained a certificate in management in 1998.
Bob started his career at Sherwin Williams, where he became Director of Sales and Marketing, Consumer Brands Division, which he held for 10 years. In 1997 Bob left Sherwin Williams to work for Smithers-Oasis, a global manufacturer and distributor of floral foam, post-harvest products, growing media, temperature-controlled packaging and floral accessory products – entering in the floral industry where he would devote the rest of his career.
Harrison “Red” Kennicott, president of Kennicott Brothers Company, notes, “Unlike many of us, Bob joined the flower industry mid-career. Bob hit the ground running and never stopped. Bob has made a difference for his business, for the floral industry and for everyone he has touched.
In 19 years, Bob rose through the ranks of director of sales and marketing to general manager of North American operations, then vice president of North American operations and co-owner. “Whether I was Bob’s subordinate, peer or boss, his character was constant,” says Robin Kilbride, President and CEO of Smithers-Oasis. “Bob loved God, his country and his neighbor. Whatever the challenge, Bob always found a way to look at the glass as half full. And he was passionate about making the world a better place by helping others succeed. “
Throughout his career at Smithers-Oasis, Bob has become more involved in the floral industry by devoting time to AFE, the Society of American Florists (SAF) and the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association (WF & FSA) . He has taken on many volunteer leadership roles and has become a tremendous advocate for our industry.
Bob and the entire Smithers-Oasis team have continuously supported the industry through their commitment to AFE, proudly attending their annual dinners and funding their programs. As long-time supporters, they have frequently sponsored the initiatives and mission of AFE.
At SAF, Bob has served on committees, boards and the board, including as president and chairman. He was also an enthusiastic participant and supporter of the Congress Days of Action.
In addition, Bob has served as Treasurer and Executive Board Member of the WF & FSA Board of Directors and has also volunteered as a mentor and speaker in their management institutes.
Most recently, Bob received the 2021 Paul Ecke Jr. Award from the SAF, recognizing his service to the flower industry and the community. He was honored at the SAF 2021 convention in Orlando on Thursday, September 23; but because Bob was unable to attend the convention in person, the SAF team and other industry leaders surprised him with the award on August 26 in Ohio.
After his retirement from Smithers-Oasis, Bob continued to support the industry with consultancy work. He worked with Kennicott Brothers Company from 2016 to 2020. Bob’s advice was greatly appreciated and he shared his deep insight into the dynamics of the floral industry.
Within his own community, Bob exemplified what it means to be a volunteer leader. He was a deacon in his church and a Sunday school teacher for several years. He has also taught at Kent State University and volunteered with support groups for people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. In his spare time, when not volunteering, Bob remained active as a college football referee. He also ran in a local running group and completed six marathons between the ages of 61 and 65.
Bob’s passion for building relationships and connections has manifested itself in all aspects of his busy life. He leaves a legacy of volunteerism and commitment to the industry. Even after his retirement, Bob remained connected and continued to share his expertise.
He is survived by his wife Diane Williams of 49 years, three children and five grandchildren.
American floral endowment
c / o Memorial tribute to Bob Williams
625 First Street, PMB 803
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
You can consult Bob Williams’ obituary here.
The family is always informed of donations and contributions can be made in any amount.