Citizen of the West
January 10, 2022
What is a Citizen of the West?
Each year a Citizen of the West is selected from community leaders who exemplify the spirit and determination of a western pioneer. These modern-day pioneers are honored for their economic and philanthropic endeavors in the West.
2022 Event Information
Date: January 10, 2022 Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Events Center, NW Complex
Covid Policy: Our initial plan of checking for vaccination status to allow those that have been fully vaccinated not to wear a face-covering at the Citizen of the West dinner has been reviewed by Denver Health and found to be out of compliance with the mask mandate. As a result, all attendees at the Citizen of the West dinner this Monday night are required to wear a face-covering when not actively eating or drinking. We are sorry for the confusion our previous communication caused and look forward to having you at the dinner to celebrate Ron Williams as the Citizen of the West. Those that have a medical or religious exemption are asked to bring that information with them to be shown at the entry. Those that do not own a mask will be provided one at the entry.
Morgan Unks, Director of Scholarship Events
Ron Williams, 43rd Citizen of the West
Mr. Williams has been selected for this esteemed honor. Still, in light of the 2021 National Western Stock Show postponement, he will receive the award at a dinner in January 2022 at the National Western Events Center. Proceeds from the event support 100 scholarships the National Western Scholarship Trust awards annually to students that attend colleges and universities in Colorado and Wyoming and major in Agricultural Science, Rural Medicine or Veterinary Medicine.
Ron Williams is a respected leader in business, education, civic, and philanthropic communities. He has made many contributions to the community through his long-standing service and financial commitments. Mr. Williams’ contributions are indelible across Colorado and to the future of the National Western Stock Show.
Ron Williams grew up in a small town in Nebraska, with a graduating high school class of 10. He received his undergraduate degree from Kearney State College, Kearney, Nebraska, and his master’s degree from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska. Upon graduation, he moved to Denver. In 1977, he joined an oil company in which he later became an owner. He is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Gary-Williams Company. The company’s community investment division, The Piton Foundation, supported non-profits, including the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Denver Preschool Program, Urban Land Conservancy, and many others. This is where Mr. Williams first became involved in and found a passion for philanthropy.
Mr. Williams co-chaired the capital campaign to raise private funds for a new state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital at the Fitzsimons Campus in Denver. He and his committee successfully raised $250 million to build the new hospital. Williams has also served on the Board of Directors for the Denver Public Schools Foundation for a decade. He is credited with shaping and influencing education in Denver. He actively raised more than $10 million for the foundation.
“Ron is a very competitive person, and everything he does, he wants to do as well as it can be done,” said Skip Miller, a long-time golfing and business colleague. Miller added, “It’s demonstrated in the results he brings about.”
In one of his latest philanthropic and civic endeavors, Ron served as the Chairman of the National Western Stock Show Board of Directors. Ron has been a member of the National Western Stock Show Board of Directors since 2004. “We’ve got a sizable project to reinvent the National Western and make it much larger and much better, and I’ve been spending all my time doing that,” Williams says. “It’s like starting a new career, and it’s been fun.”
Ron has been instrumental in the transition of the National Western Center into a 250-acre year-round educational, research, commerce, and entertainment campus, the impact of which will extend far beyond the annual National Western Stock Show.
Mr. Williams was inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 2016, is a lifetime member and past Chairman of the Board of Directors of Children’s Hospital Colorado, and a member of the board of the hospital’s foundation. He continues his philanthropic involvement by serving on the University of Colorado Hospital board and is a member of the Colorado Forum.
To say Ron Williams has dedicated his life to helping to create a better, stronger Colorado would be an understatement. He is truly an outstanding member of this community and the 2022 Citizen of the West honoree. Though dedicated to his career and community engagement, Ron has also devoted his life to his wife, Cille, and their daughter and two sons. He also enjoys spending time with his seven grandchildren in his spare time.