Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Co-founder of Roseville architecture firm retires

Jim Williams is retiring from Williams+Paddon, the Roseville-based architecture firm he co-founded in 1981, but he won’t be stepping away from his civic involvement.

Williams currently is president of the board of the South Placer County Municipal Utility District. He also serves on the boards of organizations as diverse as the Placer Community Foundation and the Northern California World Trade Center. In the past, Williams has been a Placer County supervisor, board chairman of the influential Valley Vision think tank, and president of the Roseville Chamber of Commerce. The list can – and does – go on.

Still, as Williams approached the magic number, age 65, he wanted a bit more free time to pursue all that community work: “Retirement, that’s an odd word. I think what they say now is repurposing or redirecting.”

Bill Mueller, chief executive of Valley Vision, said he hopes Williams will continue working to make the world a better place.

“He’s got an uncanny way of looking at the same issue as everyone else but with fresh eyes and a penetrating intellect,” Mueller said. “That’s the architect in him – seeing what others can’t see…. The business man in him brings another virtue – his ability to distill complicated topics into their essence and bottom-line it in bare language.”

Mueller recalled how Williams championed the effort to create the first-ever regional inventory of civic assets – parks, pools, art galleries, museums and the like – across six counties. It’s a list that continues to help define the quality of life here and identify areas where it can be improved, Mueller said.

At Williams+Paddon, Williams was the managing principal who kept a steady hand on the business side of things, but he also was known as the life of the luau. If the outside temperature was 80 degrees or higher and it was a Friday, Williams could be found in a Hawaiian shirt, and that was the rule for everyone at the firm.

Principal architect Terry Green recalled how the dress code once posed a challenge.

“We showed up one Friday in our Hawaiian shirts, and we get a phone call in the morning to bring our portfolio out to meet with some people who wanted to do an addition or expansion to their building,” Green said. “So, Jim and I went out there with our portfolio, and we walk into this room with guys in three-piece suits from Beverly Hills, sitting around the table.” Despite the casual attire, they got the job, Green said, but “I don’t think we’ve ever done that since then.”

Besides his civic work, Williams expects to eventually do some consulting for Williams+Paddon, continue working in his garden and enjoy time with his family. Williams and his wife, Diane Williams, built their home in Loomis on the same plot of land where his parents and grandparents lived. Their son Matthew Williams also lives on the same parcel, just across Williams Pond, in the home where his grandparents lived. Matthew and his wife are expecting their first baby.

“Next year in 2015, we’re celebrating 100 years since my family moved here to this property,” Williams said. “Long term, you really get a sense of place. You get a sense that we’re all stewards of the land, and you’re responsible for trying to carry it through to the next generation.”

Call The Bee’s Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow her on Twitter @CathieA_SacBee.