May 2021 Newsletter

People of the Park: Vail Williams

From the Yankees to Silvercom

By Dale Dauten

If you know anyone writing a screenplay for a romantic comedy, you might offer them this story about how two leading characters meet. Here’s how it might look in a script:

We see VAIL, an athletic young man who’d gotten a PhD after playing professional baseball. He tells the story in a voiceover as we see the interior of a gymnasium and a volleyball game:

VAIL: “When I first started teaching, they housed our offices at a nearby health center. Every Thursday night we had a staff volleyball game. During one of those games, I went up to spike a ball and it got blocked. I got blocked? I couldn’t believe it! Then I looked across the net to see who’d blocked it. And that’s how I met Linda.”

Nice, right? Of course in a romcom the two would have to bicker until they eventually realize they are actually in love; but, in our story, we can skip the bickering phase and go right to Vail and Linda Williams being married for 45 years.

But let’s back up, so we can fill in some of what we learned when we sat down with Vail Williams in April at his Silveridge home. Sadly, we didn’t get to visit with Linda – she passed away in February. (The photo below is from happier times, a Hawaii cruise in 2013.)

Vail grew up in South Denver and went to the University of Colorado on a football scholarship. Along the way, though, he switched to baseball and got invited to a league that fed into minor league teams. Eventually, he ended up being signed by the New York Yankees as a catcher. Two things kept him from a big-league career – Thurmon Munson and curveballs. Munson ended up taking over as the Yankees star catcher (seven-time All-Star), and while Vail had three years in the minor leagues, opposing pitchers eventually figured out his weakness, hitting the curve. Even so, Vail got to meet one of his heroes, Yogi Berra, and got to partake in a Yankee tradition of Mickie Mantle taking the rookies out for a beer.

Despite those memories, it was near the end of Vail’s time with the minors that he received what he now considers his best-ever advice. He was talking with a fellow player, someone with much more experience, who told him, “I’ve been in the minors for ten years. It’s okay. But if I could do it over, I would have gone back to school.”

And that’s just what Vail did, and then did some more: he finished his undergraduate work at Bradley University, then got a PhD in Psychology at the University of Oklahoma. That led to research assignments in Denver. It was there that he participated in the weekly volleyball games and met Linda. After they married in 1975, the couple went to Palo Alto, Ca. Finally, Vail landed the job that stuck, a job teaching and research at the University of South Dakota Medical School. It was in South Dakota that Linda earned her nursing degree and became a dialysis nurse for the South Dakota School of Medicine. Linda and Vail had three sons, all now living in Denver.

(In the “small world” category, we learned from Vail that Linda had gotten her RN degree at Mount Marty College in South Dakota. Vail asked me, “Do you know who else went to Mount Marty?” No idea. “Sue Arneson.” If you don’t know, Sue Arneson is Silveridge’s beloved Activities Director.)

While Vail has a long history with Silveridge, it’s not as long as Linda’s. Her folks joined the park in 1984 and Vail says of them, “They were square dancers and it was a square dancing park.” As for Vail, he first set eyes on Silveridge in 1990, visiting the in-laws, but it was 2002 when he picked the site in the park where he and Linda would live. He’s still there, half the year.

Speaking of life in the park, Vail said this of his current lifestyle: “When I was working, I’d be up by six and put in ten or twelve-hour days. I didn’t mind it. But now I get up when I want and plan the day that day, maybe one day ahead.”

One of the things that keep him busy is being a self-described “technology nut.” “I helped develop the first computer lab at Silveridge,” he recalled. “I built the first wi-fi system for the lab and I’ve been involved ever since, helping people who come in for advice.” On his living room wall is a plaque presented in recognition of his service. It says, in part, “Your technical proficiency in maintaining all of the club computers in our early years in the Computer Lab of yesteryear that made it possible for hundreds of our members to take valuable classes has not only aided the Silvercom Computer Club but the Silveridge Community…” And it calls Vail “our #1 Tech Guru.”

Our thanks to Vail for his work with Silvercom, and for sharing his story with us.

Speaking of Silvercom, we’re pleased to pass on this message from them:

Do you have a Smart Phone, Tablet or Stream TV? Read on…

Silveridge is a great place to be for people who enjoy using today’s technology. Why? Silveridge is home to one of the top computer and technology clubs in the East Valley, Silvercom Computer & Technology Club. This organization of avid technology followers and leaders has been active at Silveridge for more than 25 years.

Though Covid brought SCTC to its knees this past season, club leaders are gearing up for a great kickoff this coming November. Until then, Silveridge residents–past, present & future–need to know they have an opportunity every week to enjoy an hour of free technical fun brought to them by SCTC’s very talented Program Director, Ron Brown.

When Covid-19 shut down Silveridge on March 13, 2020, Dr. Ron (a retired Canadian physician) felt strongly that something needed to be done to help seniors keep up to date with information about and knowledge of advances in technology. Examples are 5G Internet, ‘wearable technology’ that promotes a healthier lifestyle, streaming TV for better content at less cost, and many more.

Ron Brown quickly organized a weekly hour-long Zoom meeting for SCTC members and others called Tech for Seniors, which is now in its second year and reaches a total audience of more than a thousand US and Canadian seniors each week. All of the episodes are recorded and are available on YouTube.

It’s easy to access these programs on YouTube by typing into your browser’s URL address bar. Those reading this issue of Silveridge Sun in their email should be able to simply click on the link above to view any of the nearly 60 TFS episodes.

Stay safe, healthy and enjoy your summer wherever you are,

Carol Folker, SCTC President
Dewey Kloos, Vice President


If you’d like to volunteer to be the subject of an article, or have someone you’d like to learn more about, please let me know.

Or, if you have photos you’ll like to share in upcoming newsletters, please send them.

Dale Dauten, Editor
Text: 480-297-6244