He lived ready... Aaron S. Williams, 29, passed away February 4, 2010 following a long, proud and fierce battle with kidney cancer. A valiant warrior, he lived his life with graceful purpose. Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 16, Aaron deliberately marched to the beat of a different drum, defying all medical odds to graduate from Brentwood Christian High School in 1999 and the University of Texas in 2004 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. His talents were employed as a Research Engineer at U.T.'s Center for Electro-Mechanics. Aaron taught us how to live. His indomitable spirit, unwavering obsession for Star Wars and gaming, selfless love for family and friends, and contagious passion for Christ inspired all.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Memories of Aaron

My name is Angelo Gattozzi. I have been a co-worker of Aaron’s for the last 6 years.

I want to share with you a few additional details on Aaron.

Aaron and I started working together in 2004 when he was still an undergraduate student. In fact, I was happy to be his technical sponsor in his senior project. We were working on bringing on line a large power converter (2 MW). Toward the end of this task, especially, when we spent hours and days supervising and making sure that the converter was functioning continuously and reliably, we had a lot of time to engage in conversation of various kind. It was then that I realized how much Aaron and I had in common in our vision of work, family, country, life in general. The fact that it had taken me twice as long as Aaron to reach those viewpoints testifies to his unusual maturity.

Aaron would tell me all about his family: how Tara would soon graduate, how she was taking some courses in Latin, all about Choi’s progress in the Air Force, her eventual deployment in the Middle East (but she will be back soon!). He never said much about himself unless it was in connection with a family member, or a friend. So, he was telling me about playing some videogames with his friends based on some fantastic world of the type of Star Wars or Lord of the Ring, how he was going with Tara and some friends to the Renaissance Festival, etc. In fact he strongly recommended that I go to the Renaissance Festival with my family as well.

I am reporting below an example of the often playful interchanges between us at work. This e-mail is dated Oct. 4, 2006 (John Herbst was our program manager, Bob Thelen the senior member of our team, and ALPS was the code name of our project):

Most Exalted Compiler of Reports,
Thus i submit to your scrutiny the account of this past lunar cycle. May it find you in good health and better spirits.
Most humbly,

Angelo Gattozzi wrote:
Dear Sir Aaron Earl of Williams,
Your and my lord Sir John Archduke of Herbst, by way of his esteemed Bishop Robert de Thelen, will soon be looking for our report on our latest expedition in the ALPS in the month of September. Please send me a summary of your activity in this most dangerous but (almost) glorious effort.
Thank you and God save the King!
Salutations from your brother in arms,

Angelus Gatosius Italicus

Aaron Williams phone: (512) 232-1364

I think I will surprise no-one if I said that Aaron had a heroic view of life. He was called to be a hero and he responded to the call. His passion for knights and chivalry was the sublimation of the role he knew he had been called to fulfill in this life. A knight is never despondent even when facing the gravest danger. Neither was Aaron: I never remember him as being anything but positive. In the style of perfect chivalry, Aaron and Tara showed their support and solidarity when they visited me in the hospital, after my surgeries.

What you may not know is that his influence extended beyond his immediate surroundings. For example, when my children became teen-agers they started wanting to go to this movie or that or to play this videogame or the other. It was the most natural thing for me to ask Aaron’s opinion on such things. It got to the point that my children would spontaneously ask me to check with Aaron on what he thought about a movie or a game before engaging in such activity. And yes, my family eventually did go to the Renaissance Festival, all dressed up in Medieval suits: I myself was wearing a great knight outfit. When Aaron saw the pictures he simply said, beaming: “Nice!”.

My last e-mail to Aaron is reported below, dated April 11, 2009 (the Latin words translate into "He resurrected as He said, Alleluia! The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always"):

Hi Aaron,
I missed you in the last few days: my best wishes and prayers for you and Tara for a blessed Easter.
P.S. This is especially for Tara: “Resurrexit, sicut dixit. Alleluia! Pax Domini nostri Jesu Christi sit semper vobiscum”
Aaron, when are you going to learn Latin?

He never responded to this e-mail but stopped to see me a few weeks later: he was not well. It was the last time he would come in my office. Our knight has now been called to a higher Court.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful post, Angelo. Aaron truly loved CEM and everyone there! He spoke of you often and with the highest respect. I know my mom's been trying to comment on your post as well, but has run into some technical difficulties ;) So until then, please know how much we appreciate the memories!