A celebration of William Small’s life will be held today at 11am, Trinity St. Paul’s United Church, 427 Bloor St. W., followed by a reception in the church hall. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Mission and Service Fund of the United Church of Canada would be appreciated.
The following article about the late William W. Small, founding comptroller, first secretary of York University (1959-1966) and former vice-president administration, was submitted by Prof. Michael Copeland, Dept of Economics, Faculty of Arts.
William W. Small, better known as Bill, was born on Sept. 2, 1917, in Leshan, Sichuan Province, China. Leshan is about 200 km from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. One of four children, his parents were Canadian Methodist missionaries. Mr Small Sr., a carpenter by trade, was involved in the construction of what is now the West China University of Medical Sciences (Huaxi Daxue, formerly West China Union University.)
Bill”s early education was in China and he later attended the University of Toronto, graduating with a BComm. degree. He was holder of the Senior Stick at Victoria College, “best all-round man in the graduating year”, and president of the Students Administrative Council of the University of Toronto in 1940. In 1941 he returned to China with a joint appointment from the United Board for Christian Churches in China in New York and as a missionary of United Church of Canada. He acted as bursar at the West China Union University in Chengdu and taught physical education.
Bill remained in China through the revolution of 1949 even after funds from New York were suspended during the Korean War by order of the US government. In 1952, along with most of the remaining missionaries from North America, Bill returned home.
After coming back to Canada, Bill joined the administration at the University of Toronto and in time became secretary of the university. In the late 1950s he became secretary of the board that launched York University. He was the founding comptroller, first secretary of York University (1959-1966) and later vice-president administration. For many years he taught a college course about China at Founders College. After retirement, he was secretary of the York pension plan and prominent in the York University Retirees Association.
Bill Small was active in the United Church of Canada. He managed things for his own church (Trinity St Paul’s) and participated in the negotiations with the federal government and native groups over the damages/payments relating to the church operated boarding schools. His Christianity was one of service, not piety for its own sake.
Bill was so easy to work with, a team player like the athlete he was. He knew what should or needed to be done, and he Bill, along with Jerome Chen, James Endicott and others founded the Canadian China Society in 1971. Bill served as president until 1999.
Bill returned to China several times, most recently in the fall of 2000. Together with other family members he was invited to participate in the 90th anniversary celebrations of West China University of Medical Sciences. Bill and his family members also returned to his birthplace in Leshan.
Bill Small’s life was one of service, to family, to York University and education, to the Church, and to China. He generously gave his time and great wisdom. His devotion was an inspiration to many people. His positive attitude and always cheery outlook were infectious. Bill Small was a Christian gentleman, perhaps an unusual term these days, but one that truly fits this fine man.