Larry Williams

Obituary of Larry Lynn Williams

On November 23, 1938, Thanksgiving Day, Larry Lynn was born to Bertha Virginia and Richard Harold Williams, better known as “Red and Bert.” His parents lived in Fruitland, Idaho and later ran the local phone company, where Larry spent many days during his young childhood. When he was 11, they moved into the family farmhouse by the Snake River where they grew apples and plums. The farm remained in the family for the next 70 years.

An only child, Larry liked roaming the farm with his pet dogs. As a teen he fell in love with cars (his first being a 1953 Plymouth with electric doors) which later became an Austen-Healey and Porsche obsession. His engineering mind kicked in young, and he built an amplifier which he took to friends’ basements where they all listened to music and danced.

Knowing he wanted to be an electrical engineer from 10 years old, Larry went to the University of Idaho in the fall of 1957, and earned his BS degree in 1961. In January 1960, he randomly asked a young woman, Ellen Sager, an OSU student that he had casually known from high school youth group, out on a date. She turned him down, but he was persistent and that summer they had their first date at the Miss Idaho Pageant. They were married a week after he graduated and headed to Seattle for a summer job at Boeing.

Larry went on to earn his Masters in EE (with a thesis on Tunnel Diodes) from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and that is where he and Ellen started their family. After graduation, he was hired by IBM, where he spent his career, moving to the California Bay Area in 1963. Eventually, Larry and Ellen’s family grew to five. They had all kinds of adventures crammed into his 1968 Porsche 912 together—backpacking, skiing and biking. Larry and Ellen had three months every summer to themselves as they shipped their kids to the Williams family farm in Idaho for 15 straight years.

Larry loved his job. While he later did some managing, he particularly liked being hands-on. During his tenure at IBM, Larry worked on systems design automation, the 3800 Printer, a media streamer, and disc technology. He was particularly skilled at learning different computer languages. Over the years, he did the coursework for a master’s degree in math from SJSU and additional studies at Stanford. He earned ten patents over the years that none of the rest of us understand. They had to do with overheating prevention, streaming data from a disc drive, data storage with code scanning, command stack management in a disc drive, and storage with a lateral storage director.

He was always trying new hobbies (some of which stuck): woodworking, photography, a love of wines and gourmet food, calligraphy, fly fishing (only a few hooks landed in his lip), reading and writing poetry, rebuilding engines, guitar playing, ancestry searches, and learning French, German, Italian, and even a little Spanish.

After retirement in 2005, Larry and Ellen spent their time playing tennis, eating delicious food, and enjoying watching their eight grandchildren grow, always encouraging them in their budding interests. His mind strong until the end, which would make him happy as his mom died from Alzheimer’s, Larry died comfortably surrounded by his immediate family on August 5, 2021 from Interstitial Lung Disease.

As much as Larry enjoyed his career and loved his friends and family— sometimes in his own gruff way—EVERYONE who knew him could see that the greatest love and joy of his life was spending it for 60 years with his beautiful and loving wife, Ellen.

Larry is survived by his wife, Ellen, his children John (Julie) Williams, Kathleen (Tom) Halaszynski, Cindy (Bill) Golden, and his grandchildren, Nicholas and Daniel Williams, Kelly, Erica, Alex and Cassie Halaszynski, and Jonas and Calen Golden.

We will celebrate Larry’s life on September 4, 2021 at 10:00am at the Los Altos United Methodist Church with an outdoor garden service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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