Donor Profile: Bill Hecker

Kristina Ciari Kristina Ciari
February 28, 2014

Like your typical Mountaineers member, Bill Hecker counts alpine climbing, skiing and rock climbing among his favorite outdoor activities. But thanks to his exposure to the natural world, he also includes gardening and bird watching.

Bill credits his son for getting him started. “It’s really my son’s fault. We had been hiking and backpacking for a couple of years when he decided that the forest trails were boring. I wanted him to be properly trained in backcountry travel.” So Bill and his son, Jacob, who was 13 at the time, took the Scrambling course together in 2001. They went on to graduate the Basic Climbing course in 2003.

Bill was invited to join the Basic Climbing committee after graduating the Intermediate Climbing course in 2004, and volunteered primarily for climbing, leading over 100 field trips for Basic, Intermediate, Climbing and Crag courses over the years."

"My initial motivation for volunteering was to pay back. But after instructing and leading climbs, I found that it was my students who motivated me to continue volunteering. Good or bad, feedback from students is immediate."

Not surprisingly, it’s mostly the good feedback that inspires Bill to continue volunteering — along with a sense of responsibility to his students. “Students look at you like a seven year-old looks at his father,” he says. “You see respect, awe and trust in their eyes.” They’re also eager to absorb all that Bill knows about the Cascades as he loves exploring that area so much that he has practically all of the Beckey Guides memorized!

His volunteering led him to giving — the point of this article. Bill decided to support the Tacoma Program Center renovation after attending an informational event for the project. But it was really a chance run-in with Jim Feltus and Geoff Lawrence, two members of the fundraising committee, who inspired him to make a significant gift. “Jim told me that I should support this project because it’s part of me.” He adds, “I also saw Marty Babare and others not only give, but volunteer to recycle wood from the clubhouse to use in the new building. All of my friends were doing something so I thought I should do something too. I guess I was waiting for someone to ask me to give — at a personal level.” He joined the fundraising committee for the indoor climbing wall effort and made a second significant gift at a fundraising dinner. “It was a fun evening. I was emcee for the program and my girlfriend Joy was the head chef.” To double his impact Bill requested matching gifts from his employer, Boeing.

Bill plans to continue to support fundraising efforts for the outdoor climbing wall — Tacoma Branch’s next project. And he has high hopes for what his giving will accomplish. “I would like the Tacoma Mountaineers and The Mountaineers in general to become widely recognized as having world-class instructional venues and a world-class climbing program. Over the years many climbing programs have modeled their climbing program after ours. It’s a great compliment and tribute to The Mountaineers.”

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