Willie Williams,
Willie Williams in his sea kayak

One of the most active and healthy people you’ll ever meet, Willie Williams was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma early in 2006. Willie had already inspired so many people.

With the bravery and joy for life with which he faced his illness, he inspired and galvanized a community based on giving and receiving with love, careful honesty, and determination.

His good friends and colleagues David Yacubian and Lynn Petzold, remind us: “Navigate on the oceans and in life, Willie certainly did. He maintained his passion for sea kayaking, photography, music, natural history, the night sky/stars, always hiking,
paddling, & biking and doing yoga & meditation. He lived his life simply, with great love for his family, friends, students, and all of nature.”

Thank you, Willie, for everything you gave us.

An Excerpt from Willie’s Web Journal

“You asked about a sense of belonging, of faith in the rightness of life. You wondered how I navigate hardships that might make me lose faith…

“The earth and all the interconnected life and consciousness here is a huge cosmic stroke of luck and beauty.

Somehow we’ve been lucky enough, privileged enough, to be here now, and to be aware of it. The power and
depth of reflection, to realize this place in the universe, awes and humbles me.

For me, the rightness of life centers on extreme gratitude and appreciation. To share these feelings, to acknowledge this amazing gift, with other living creatures, is a large part of my faith. The impermanence of things, the duality of life, the suffering only brings me closer to the feelings of gratitude and appreciation for the simple beauties & happiness we receive.

We all know the world could disappear tomorrow – the sun could supernova or an asteroid take us out, or humans do something major. And all that would really matter is the quality of our lives, the love we shared, the gratitude we expressed, the joy of breathing… That’s a bit on the way I navigate thru life.”

Memorial Donations

Memorial donations may be made to the Willie Williams Wilderness Orientation (WO)
Scholarship at UC Santa Cruz (WO). The program was founded by Willie in 1983 with the hope was to create a 10 day backpacking expedition for incoming students. At the time, Willie was a student, a recreation leader and rock climbing instructor for the UCSC Recreation Program.

Since 1983 more than 2,000 incoming students have experienced the High Sierra through WO. The Willie Williams Scholarship provides full scholarships to students who would have otherwise been unable to attend. For more information about the program visit http://www.ucscrecreation.com.

All donations to the Willie Williams Wilderness Orientation Scholarship at UC Santa
Cruz are tax-deductible. Make checks payable to UC Santa Cruz Foundation with Willie Williams Wilderness Orientation Scholarship in the memo line. Mail to:
Wilderness Orientation
UC Santa Cruz
1156 High St. – OPERS
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Willie was also very active in the Sarcoma Alliance. For more information, visit the Sarcoma Alliance online.