Williams receives achievement award

Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Wallace "Sandy" Williams credits the good people around him for many of his contributions to the Juneau community.

Williams, of Douglas, was awarded the Juneau Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent annual chamber dinner.

He was unable to be at the dinner because of other plans. Chamber officials notified him of the award while he and his wife, Susanne, were having dinner with another couple at the Millennium Alaskan Hotel in Anchorage.

"I was overwhelmed," Williams, 67, said with emotion. "There are a lot of great people in this community who do a lot for this community."

Williams' son, Michael, accepted the award on behalf of his father. Williams' other son, Rusty, lives in Vancouver, Wash.

The award is not given annually, but reserved for those who have given to the community throughout a large portion of their lives, said Chamber Executive Director Todd Saunders.

For Williams, that work started in 1959 when he and Susanne came to Juneau from Vermont. Williams began work as a civil design engineer for the state Department of Highways, now called the Department of Transportation.

After many years with the state, Williams resigned in 1987 to work at Douglas Island Pink & Chum (DIPAC). He served as harvest manager, handled environmental permitting and worked in the engineering and public relations departments during a 10-year period.

He was on the DIPAC Board of Directors and was instrumental in the creation of the park next to DIPAC on Channel Drive. The park created a recreational area for fishermen while eliminating safety hazards posed by vehicles parked along Channel Drive, Williams explained.

Rich Poor met Williams in the 1960s when they worked for the Department of Highways. But they really began to work together when they were members of the Douglas Fourth of July Committee, Poor said. The committee wanted to do a project to celebrate 100 years of July 4th festivities with a project.

"Sandy was the motivator; he said, 'Let's do something special for the 100th anniversary,'" Poor said.

That special something ended up being the $3.5 million Treadwell Arena that opened at Savikko Park in Douglas last February.

Williams, Poor, architect Wayne Jensen and Parks and Recreation Director Kim Kiefer were the main forces behind the Treadwell Arena project, Poor said. The Fourth of July Committee raised about one-third of the cost of the arena through fund raising, donations and state grants. The city paid the remainder.

Williams was also a member of the Juneau Planning Commission during the permitting for the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine.

He's been active in the Juneau Rotary Club since 1976, serving as president in 1986-87. Over the years, he's been the leading seller of Rotary Roses, a major fund raiser for the club. In addition to fund raising, he helped with Rotary projects including the Mendenhall Wetlands Game Refuge overlook, and the Cope Park and Auke Bay Harbor picnic shelters.

He is a member of the Juneau Douglas Officials Association, in charge of scheduling umpires for adult softball. A softball player for about 40 years, Williams was primarily responsible for organizing and keeping the First National Bank Capitals together since the 1960s. He is also active in an international organization called Senior Softball and next year will help arrange a tour of Alaska for members of the organization. They will play against local teams and tour the state from Fairbanks to Ketchikan.

"Sandy has ended careers and commitments and started new ones," Chamber Director Saunders said. "He never stops giving and contributing in some way."

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