Bill Nix

Bill Nix had the misfortune to pick up the pieces of yet another broken education when he took me on as a grad student. Patience is one of Bill's long suits, and I am sure I tried him sorely at times. Too late to mold my personality much; all he could do was put up with it. He always did graciously.

Bill is all business but knows how to have fun. Alone among my mentors, he taught tough stuff, sometimes with a nearly futile hammer. The miracle was not his teaching, but the tiny details and insistence on getting them all right was not only impressive, but imperative as I was to learn again and again, and yet again. What analytical abilities I have I owe to him. He is younger than me, but that never seemed to affect how he treated me. He provided equal time for each of his students.

I still have my notes from his classes; I intended to master them more fully. But opportunities took me in other directions, into entrepreneurship. Now, every time I jump the gun on a project, I have to pause, "No Bill would not do it this way." Then I laugh, and if there is time, I start over. But usually there is no time; after all, entrepreneurship requires speed, not perfection.

Bill is subtle to a fault. By that I mean I usually have to read his email two or three times to get all the meat out of it. He is especially good at pointing out half-baked ideas by skirting around them.

What the others did for me emotionally, Bill did for me intellectually. Three decades later, he is still unselfish of his time and advice. I have one last paper on metallurgy in draft. The enabler? Bill Nix. Would he put his name on it? No. The world needs more people like Bill Nix.

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