Member News

David L. Williams, Sr. 1928 - 2024

The International Association for Energy Economists has the sad duty of informing its members of the death of David L. Williams, Sr., on February 17, 2024. “Dave Sr” served as the Association’s Executive Director from 1991 through 2005 and then stepped back but continued to be deeply involved with and supportive of the IAEE after his son, David Williams, Jr., succeeded him as Executive Director until Dave Jr.’s own retirement in 2022.

Recruited by senior IAEE members who had known him in his role as a former leader and Executive Director of the National Association of Business Economists, Dave Sr. took over the IAEE as an 11-year-old association teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. With quiet, astute management, he supported a sequence of volunteer Presidents and officers to develop a truly international non-profit enterprise. On his watch, the IAEE grew to claim a global membership of about 4,000 members in 128 countries, to publish two scholarly peer-reviewed journals and a magazine, to operate a foundation as well as a membership organization, to develop a network of national and regional affiliates, to host major multi-day international and regional conferences in cities around the globe, and, not least, to build a healthy endowment in operating funds and investments. Under his management, the IAEE made major gains toward its mission: growing the knowledge of energy economics globally by convening academic experts, students, business practitioners, and government policymakers, providing them a platform for ground-breaking analysis and new ideas focused on the economics of energy, a critical component of all modern economies and of interdependent global marketplace.

Longtime members may know this history; all members benefit from it. But only those who were lucky enough to cycle through leadership posts or Council positions were in a position to appreciate the courtesy, quiet efficiency, and care with which Dave Sr. provided the IAEE with its administrative services, tag-teaming with Dave Jr. Issues would come up over time – a long-planned conference cancelled over international political tensions, an IAEE President jailed over bogus political allegations, another forced to resign due to ill health – but the IAEE back-office function would quietly continue, finding effective responses and protecting the association membership from feeling the bumps in the road. As the IAEE’s General Counsel, I was gratified at how few were the legal issues that ever arose, a credit to his detail-oriented and risk-averse management style.

And even former Presidents and officers may not have known that Dave Sr’s cool and competent leadership and frugal financial management had been developed in a prior 34-year career as a business economist and executive in the machine-tool industry. They may not have known that he was an active community leader continuously for three decades at the Laurel Lakes Community where he and his wife Jinny lived. They may have known that he loved classic motorboats, but not that he rebuilt and restored them himself, or that he was a leader in the national organization that promotes boating safety. They almost certainly did not know that he was a multi-sport athlete in college, the Ohio college champion in the quarter-mile race in 1950. He was not one to tout his own achievements, past or present. However, all of us should recognize that bringing the IAEE into its preeminent position as the international gathering of those who care about and practice energy economics was at least as much his achievement as it was that of anyone else, and one that will continue to provide benefits and value to our world in the critical decades ahead.

John W. Jimison,
IAEE General Counsel (1989 to present)


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