1940s alum has hand in saving symphony orchestra

by Nikki Clemons

Bertram Aaron '43 (at right)

Bertram Aaron '43 (at right) led efforts to keep the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in Williamsburg.

When a declining audience made the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO) consider leaving the Williamsburg, Virginia, area, Bertram Aaron (electrical engineering '43) recruited his friends and, in 1996, organized the Virginia Symphony Society of Greater Williamsburg (VSSGW), a branch of the VSO Board of Directors, to support the symphony so that it could continue to perform.

"I thought it was a disaster," Aaron said of the possibility of losing the symphony. "This is a great symphony, one of the top 10 in the country."

The VSSGW raises awareness and funds for the VSO and arranges social functions and performances. Since the group was formed, the VSO has played four sold-out performances in Williamsburg. In June 2014, the symphony's board of directors adopted a resolution recognizing Aaron's dedication and service.

Virginia Symphony Orchestra

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Organizing the VSSGW has been just one of Aaron's interests. From working with the U.S. Army Signal Supply Agency from 1950-53 to organizing the first West Coast Chapter of the Microwave Theory and Techniques Society, and from organizing and chairing a symposium for the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation to helping develop the Williamsburg Kiwanis Colonial Polo Cup, Aaron has an illustrious history of service.

On the professional front, Aaron founded an engineering company, Bertram D. Aaron & Co. Inc., and made a commitment to reach out to others. "I made it a point, contrary to others in my industry, to meet the senior executives and senior engineers of the organizations with whom I did business," said Aaron, who is now retired. "It was a constant, invigorating learning experience. I had to deal with all types of people, from the good to the miserable."

Whether running his company or organizing fundraisers, Aaron has prioritized finding common goals with others. "I believe that if you have people motivated to do a job in which they have an interest and ownership, it matters not if it is volunteer or paid."

English major Nikki Clemons was a Virginia Tech Magazine intern.

Alumnus serves as Virginia adjutant general

by Nikki Clemons

  • Brig. Gen. Timothy Williams '85

    Brig. Gen. Timothy Williams '85, Virginia's adjutant general, spoke to cadets in October 2014.

  • A Hokie sits at the helm of the Virginia Army National Guard, the Virginia Air National Guard, and the Virginia Defense Force. In June 2014, Brig. Gen. Timothy Williams (management science '85) was sworn in as the new adjutant general of Virginia.

    Williams, a member of the Corps of Cadets during his time at Tech, follows a long tradition of service. "My dad was in the Army, and my grandfather was in the National Guard and served in the Navy during World War II," said Williams. "My older brother, Class of '79, was in the corps and also went into the National Guard."

    After graduating from Tech, Williams spent five years on active duty and then worked at Virginia Tech for two years as a corps recruiter. He went on to become an active guardsman.

    His service experience helped prepare him to take on the role of adjutant general. The role was an adjustment as Williams began working at a national level, engaging with congressional and state delegations and working with senior military leaders, the National Guard, the Army, and the Air Force, he said.

    Williams' time in the corps molded him. "It certainly did shape my early career and my want to serve and then go into the military," Williams said. "I would credit the corps with my ability to do well as a lieutenant and captain. Virginia Tech has been a big part of our family. My wife was in the corps, my sister was in the corps, and my cousins were Hokies, as well. It's a family affair."

    On Oct. 30, Williams came to campus as a guest of the Corps of Cadets' Maj. Gen. W. Thomas Rice Center for Leader Development to speak about the benefits of joining the National Guard and the Virginia National Guard, as well as the organizations' values embodying the slogan, "Always Ready, Always There."

    English major Nikki Clemons was a Virginia Tech Magazine intern.

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