Obituaries

William T. Coleman

BillColeman onlineWilliam (Bill) T. Coleman, III passed away on November 29, 2020 after an eight- month battle with pancreatic cancer.  He was the husband of Claudia Coleman with whom he shared over 36 years of marriage.  Bill was an Air Force “brat”, born in Guam, lived around the world and was the oldest of eight children of Col William T. and Elizabeth Coleman.

Bill’s love of the Air Force continued with an appointment to the Air Force Academy where he graduated with a degree in computer science in 1971.  He went on to earn his master’s degree in computer science and computer engineering from Stanford University.  He also holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Colorado.

Beginning his Airforce career, Bill was chief of satellite operations in the Office of the Secretary.  Upon leaving the Air Force, the tech world of Silicon Valley was a perfect match for his interest in computer systems and software.  He joined VisiCorp where he was director of product development during development of the first spreadsheet, VisiCalc.  At Sun Microsystems, he co-founded Sun Federal, founded Sun Professional Services; and lead development of the industry-leading Solaris Operating System.

Bill was a visionary and always planned on becoming an entrepreneur.  He took a leave of absence while at Sun and wrote a business plan focused on developing enterprise infrastructure software.  The plan was the blueprint for establishing and launching BEA Systems in 1995.  As Founder and CEO, BEA became the fastest software company to reach $1B in annual revenue in history. 

Bill often commented he failed retirement multiple times.  To those who knew Bill, that was not a surprise.  He became a partner with Alsop Louie Partners, an early stage venture capital firm while he was also Chairman and CEO of Resilient Network Systems a cyber security software company.  He was a Special Partner for Vitruvian Partners and an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group.  In 2016, Bill helped Carlyle carve out Veritas from Symantec; then took on the CEO role, which he turned over to his successor two years later.

Being generous in spirit and financially, Bill and Claudia focused their philanthropy in the area of cognitive disabilities.  They were inspired by their niece when they saw how technology opened a world of possibilities for her.  They became founding donors of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado.  The institute celebrated its 20th year in 2020 and is one of the most notable university institutes focusing on policies and technologies helping people with cognitive disabilities.  Bill, along with a fellow classmate, endowed the first Computer Science chair at the Air Force Academy.  He was proud of the academy’s curriculum and the partnerships, both academic and corporate, they are creating.

Bill was a member of the board of directors of Seagate Technologies LLC, Energy Harbors, Azul, Activ8me, and Bitdefender.  He was a member of BENS (Business Executives for National Security), former Santa Clara University Trustee and a past member of the Trilateral Commission.  Additionally, he co-developed and taught an entrepreneur class at Stanford and considered mentoring a privilege for which he always made time. 

Living life to the fullest was a gift of Bill’s.  He was the definition of an optimistic person and always exuded positive energy.  He was generous to a fault and had an ever-ready smile.  Bill’s paradise was Aspen CO where he was affectionately known as the “Camp Director” for organizing daily ski groups on his beloved Aspen Mountain.  He was passionate about skiing and considered the Rocky Mountains to be heaven on earth.

Bill is survived by his wife Claudia and all seven of his siblings:  Karen Cutler (FL), Bob Coleman, Patty Theobald (CO), Shawn Coleman (AZ), Pam Jackson (AZ), Michelle Coleman (NC), Michael Coleman (CA).  He will be profoundly missed.  Due to COVID, a memorial service will be postponed.  Anyone wishing to honor Bill can donate to the Coleman Institute of Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado -  https://giving.cu.edu/fund/coleman-institute-current-gift-fund

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Deadline: Thursday at noon, for publication the following Wednesday (6 days later). If a holiday falls within that week, check with us about special publication deadlines. 

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