Our Stories: Eric Williams
Eric Williams is one of our most articulate, hardworking, and soulful members. He has a fascinating career as a freelance audio engineer with high-profile clients like NBC News, CBS News, Discovery, National Geographic, Nova, and the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer. His work took him all over the USA as well as the Arctic Circle, Bosnia, Iraq, Israel, Chad, and S. Korea. Somehow, amidst all that, he found the time to create dozens of finely crafted woodworking items, including the two welcome desks at BVUUF’s remodeled and expanded building as well as a cup hutch for the new Fellowship Hall. His work for the Fellowship also includes leading the prairie dog task force, and working on the design team that helped design so many aspects of the interior of our new building. For the last two years, he has been a Service Associate, and often shared some of the wonderful poetry and prose he writes during our Sunday services.
Eric grew up in Bay City, Michigan, where his father worked as a maintenance welder in a General Motors plant and his mother as a secretary. When Eric was young, his father liked to recite poetry by poets like Robert Service and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Eric says he is not sure just how much that inspired his own poetry, since Eric would not start writing poetry for another 20 years.
Dropping out of community college in Michigan, Eric didn’t go back to college until he was 29 and living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. By then he had started his woodworking business, using skills he had learned while being a construction worker and trim carpenter. At the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, he majored in radio/TV journalism, with a minor in English. He got involved with the campus-based NPR radio station and found it “easier to write news on a deadline than to sit in my room staring at the typewriter trying to write fiction.” For two years he was frequently on the air on the campus station, then did an internship at a local PBS television station.
These experiences got him started on his career as a sound technician. It was much easier to get started on such a career path in New Mexico than it might have been in a more populous state, he says. “New Mexico is a small place and you can get in on the ground floor of things just by showing an interest and having some gumption.” And besides, “everyone else wanted to be a cameraman.”
Eric grew up Methodist and was active in the youth group and Boy Scout troop that met in his church. But he was skeptical, even at the age of 14, when he heard that the only way to heaven was through Jesus. He liked the rituals and the sense of community in his church, but did not believe in the doctrines. He did, however – and still does – believe in a God, by which he means simply “the force of love in nature, whatever is transcendent in the universe – not a judgmental creator.”
He met his wife Lucy in Santa Fe in 1986 when they were both attending an Adult Children of Alcoholics therapy group. The leader of that group, a UCC minister, married them. They honeymooned before they were married by traveling in China and Tibet.
Eric and Lucy visited both BVUUF and Unity of Boulder 10 years ago, but it was not until Trump was elected in 2016 that the two of them felt the urgent need to find a community and they tried BVUUF again. After their first service, “I knew this was it. We really liked Rev. Lydia, and we felt very welcomed. Reverend Lydia brings out the best in others, and she was the wind beneath my wings when I was a Service Associate.” He has been a very involved member ever since that first Sunday.
Being a Service Associate “was one of the biggest experiences of my life.” He has used his talents as a writer, poet, and speaker – talents he did not always know he had. He has missed our live services a lot these last ten months, feeling that there is less emotional impact on Zoom.
His greatest joys, he says, are “being engaged in a creative process: writing, woodworking, designing. Also hiking in the mountains, observing nature. I can hardly write anything without including nature and my place in it.”
Eric and Lucy faced the enormous challenge of raising a son on the autism spectrum. Now in his 20s, he is “very bright, funny, creative, and articulate,” but he was very difficult to raise because of his behavioral challenges. Their son, Cory, now lives with a caregiver and is doing well.
We are so lucky to have Eric among us, a person with such passions and talents who is so very dedicated to our wonderful Fellowship.