Boulder Valley School District

BVSD remembers administrator who was recognized as ‘Heart and Soul’ of the district

Jim Williams poses with BVSD Chief Operating Officers present and past.
Randy Barber

Boulder Valley School District has lost a legend. Jim Williams, who served BVSD for 31 years, in a number of roles at both the school and district-level, passed away in January.

Every once in awhile in the life of an organization there is someone who has done it all. Williams was that person in BVSD. 

Jim Williams

He came to Boulder Valley in 1966 to serve as a counselor at Fairview High School, which was then located in the building currently occupied by Nevin Platt Middle School. Williams worked his way up to become the school’s athletic director and eventually principal, helping to shape the home of the Knights, as it moved to its new (current) building in southwest Boulder.

Williams eventually moved to central administration as Boulder and BVSD were growing. According to his obituary, he worked tirelessly to recruit and hire the best people as Director of Personnel, he inspired teachers and school leaders as Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education and supervised the building of new schools and the maintenance and improvement of old schools as Deputy Superintendent for Operations. 

While it has been many years since he retired, Williams’ presence is still felt in the hallways of BVSD. Many staff members, including Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Mike Gradoz, remember being recruited by Williams to BVSD after a short stint as an associate principal in Madison, Wis. to become the principal at Casey Middle School.

“I will always be indebted because he brought me back to BVSD,” Gradoz said. “He valued me as not only a qualified candidate, but also saw the critical importance of having people of color in the Boulder Valley School District.”

His daughter, BVSD Executive Director and Athletic Director Michele DeBerry recalls a situation many years ago when Williams learned of a tragic bus accident in the mountains that shook the very core of the BVSD Transportation Department.

“The drivers were dealing with a significant amount of trauma. In order to support them, he rode a school bus every day for the rest of the school year to show his support,” DeBerry said. 

Jim Williams poses with BVSD Chief Operating Officers present and past.

Assistant Superintendent of Operational Services Rob Price has a picture of several of his predecessors, including Williams, hanging in his office at the new BVSD Education Center. He says looking at the photo reminds him of the importance of being there for your employees.

“He was a true servant leader,” Price said.

It is easy to see why, upon his retirement in 1997, he was recognized by his colleagues as "the heart and soul" of Boulder Valley School District and received the Daily Camera’s Pacesetter Award.

Memorial services will be held at a later date due to the pandemic. Impact on Education Foundation for Boulder Valley Schools is accepting donations in his memory. The funds will be used to provide supplemental funding to students and teachers.


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