We are saddened to share that our dear friend Michael Williams passed away in December of 2020.
The story of Mike Williams’ long career and service at UCLA is one of friendship, inspiration, work ethic, support of athletics, and enrichment of the UCLA Extension work experience. Everybody knew Mike. His presence was large at UCLA just like his heart. Mike always offered kindness, friendship, camaraderie, and passion.
Sometimes you would see him at Stan’s Donuts before work. You might bump into him in the hallway of the Extension building. He became an iconic member of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a daily presence in the lounge, in the hallways of the UCLA Extension building, and in OLLI courses.
From participating in class discussions to spontaneously providing expert IT/AV support services if needed, he found joy both as a student and instructor in the program. It was not unusual to see him share a meal with Osher colleagues or former UCLA Extension workmates who continued to seek out his company. Mike touched us all at UCLA.
His time at UCLA Extension spanned decades – from the sixties to the present. He not only touched UCLA Extension, but he also reached thousands at athletic events when, as a volunteer, he provided countless years of support for John Wooden at Bruin basketball games. From employee to retiree, Mike continued to touch colleagues and friends.
He was admired for his dedication and care for his family and community. His honesty and frankness were exemplary and an inspiration. He was always giving back and his heart guided him to help others.
It is not often we get to experience such a dedicated and inspirational colleague and we are humbled that he was part of our UCLA family.
The OLLI at UCLA scholarship program, which was launched in summer 2019, has been renamed The Michael Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund. Help us reach new audiences and increase our program’s diversity. We encourage you to share this scholarship opportunity with those who are not familiar with OLLI or with those who have been unable to participate due to financial limitations. To contribute to the Michael Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund, click here.
Two years ago, Mike asked me to create and develop a Black cinema course with him. I hesitated because I had little knowledge about that particular area of film, but he persuaded me, and thus began a partnership. For two years – and two courses – we crafted a cinema series for Black History month that sought to educate Osher members about important African-American films and their impact on and relevance to U.S. society. Mike enthusiastically recruited students for the courses and provided the class with unique insights to each of the movies viewed. He brought richness and depth to the courses, and I will miss working with him. – Maria Siciliano, OLLI Instructor
Mike Williams was a gentle-man. A kind, caring individual who possessed extraordinary “people-skills” that made him a treasure to know. After he completed military service, he found his way to UCLA. He became a full-time employee of the Audio-Visual department. He had not had the opportunity or the resources to go to college but he found much of what he was looking for at UCLA. He consumed class after class either as a student or later as a volunteer providing support and guidance to (often challenged) Extension instructors – like myself – operating A-V equipment and later dealing with The Land of Zoom. It was in this Godfather role that I first met Mike. He had the patience of Job quietly and always calmly moving me slowly along the path of basic technical competence. My courses in Extension cover Jazz Appreciation and History…a subject that Mike loved and led to a number of concert events and dinners shared with his wife Armerilyn and daughter, Jamie. Being able to call Mike a friend was special… very special. Call it Mike’s good karma or just my extremely good fortune. He deserves to be remembered. – Pat Collins, OLLI Instructor
There were so many times in my classes–many of which he audited–he’d save the day either through by fixing technical malfunctions of tired equipment, or my technical ineptitude, not to mention his sweet, kind congeniality, his enthusiastic, up-beat enthusiasm about OLLI and UCLA generally, and his readiness to help. – Carlo Coppola, OLLI Instructor