by AMANDA WINTERSSequim Gazette
As the Sequim PC Users Group prepares for its first tech and media fair, members are taking a moment to recall the time, money and effort one of the founders put into establishing the group 18 years ago and using it to benefit the community.
Jim Williams, 94, of Sequim, is the “sole survivor” of the group that formed SPCUG in 1992, foreseeing a growing need in the community for computer-based skills.
Williams doesn’t describe himself as a computer man. Indeed, he spent most of his life telling people what to do as an engineer and owner of a heating company, he said.
As a Rotarian for 35 years, a member of the National Engineering Standards Committee for 20 years and a former president of the American Society of Engineers, he just knew how to get things done.
Williams sold his heating company in 1988 and moved to Sequim in 1990. He bought a computer but couldn’t use it. He didn’t know how, he said.
So he signed up for a computer class at Peninsula College and began his journey of not just learning, but also teaching computer skills.
In 1993, the principal of Sequim High School asked Williams to set up a computer program. The only problem was that the school had just one computer, Williams said.
“The only guy learning is the guy on the keyboard,” he said.
Williams, with the help of John Junell, worked on getting components for the 24 computers needed to establish a program at the high school.
Williams approached the school board with an offer: If they covered half the cost of the computers, he would cover the other half. They agreed.
Students spent a couple of weeks assembling the computers, then began learning.
Williams taught the computer skills class for a year and 17 students learned how to use a program called Computer Assisted Design, which is an important tool for modern engineers.
“When they left, they had something they could get a job with,” he said.
Williams believed so strongly students should learn how to use CAD that when the school upgraded to new computers he donated $5,000 to buy the newest version of the software.
“It’s important for the students to learn,” he said.
Williams will be honored for his contributions to community computer learning by the SPCUG this weekend at its Tech and Media fair.
Reach Amanda Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.