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As Fate Would Have It

“The highlight of my day is getting to go to my beautiful home, kick back, and enjoy my life with my wife,” Steve Williams, Maintenance Supervisor says. “Regardless of whether my day has been good or bad, easy or trying, I love to come home.”

Steve’s wife, Kim, The Forest’s Accounting Specialist, echoes Steve’s sentiments almost exactly. “[I love] going home knowing that most of my business has been successfully accomplished, getting to spend time with my husband…and WINE!” she gushes.

Come September 25th, the Williamses will be able to be in their happy place – home – more often, enjoying the many freedoms that retirement brings and sharing those things with each other.

The pair are about as perfect for each other as two lovebirds can be, but they didn’t find each other the easy way.

From Detroit to Greeneville to Raleigh to…

Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1950, Steve moved to the town of Greeneville, Tennessee, when he was just seven years old. The former altar boy married at 19 and welcomed his first child, a daughter, at 20. He enlisted in the United States Army at 24, serving the country for the next four years.

In 1978, he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he began working in renovations and home repair.

“A building owner really liked my work and work ethic and introduced a friend of his who offered to start a business with me,” Steve shares.

The business, a petroleum equipment remanufacturing company, soon took off. Steve and his wife at the time relocated to Cartersville, Georgia, where they raised two daughters. “We ran the business until 2000, at which time technology was replacing the old mechanical computers in gas pumps, and I could see the writing on the walls,” Steve says. “It was time to move on.”

His wife had accepted a teaching position at an elementary school in Durham’s Hope Valley neighborhood, and his job was playing out, so the family picked up and headed back to North Carolina. There Steve found it rejuvenating to take some time off, take a breath, and reassemble.

Finding The Forest

It was during the time of the 2000 United States presidential election recount in Florida that he happened to drive by The Forest at Duke’s campus. “I thought it looked like a nice place,” he recalls. “I drove in, went to the reception desk, asked about work, and was asked to meet with the Maintenance Supervisor, Steve Short, then the Facility Services Director, Jim Thompson.”

It probably wasn’t hard for the hiring manager and director to see Steve’s many excellent qualities. An outstanding multitasker, Steve also has exceptional customer service skills he says came to him through his dad. “He was kind and patient always,” Steve says. “It is a character trait that I have valued and tried to emulate.”

In November 2000, Steve was hired at The Forest as a Maintenance Tech III, remaining in that role until 2004 when he became the Assistant Maintenance Supervisor.

Eleven years later, after personnel changes, he was made the interim Maintenance Manager until a permanent team member was hired to fill the position.

“I had been offered the position but declined it because I knew I would be retiring within the next few years,” Steve explains. However, in 2018, Steve took the job and became the Maintenance Manager for The Forest at Duke.

In his current role, Steve has encountered a number of hurdles, all of which he has cleared with relative ease. “[I’ve had] to learn how to be a manager to a team with whom I have previously been a peer,” he shares. However, he adds, “Learning each distinct personality, quirks and all, and how to best utilize [the team’s] specific talents and abilities has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my time here.”

Steve also notes that he truly enjoys “all of the wonderful, interesting, and memorable people” he has met and with whom he has developed meaningful relationships in his years at The Forest.

From radio to accounting

Kim Prevost was born in Methuen, Massachusetts, in 1954 and lived with her family in nearby West Boxford until she was 12 years old. At that time, the Prevosts moved to Andover, where Kim ultimately graduated from high school.

Kim Williams in her high school senior photo.
Kim, then called “Kimba” and simply “Ba” by her high school classmates, sported raven hair in this 1972 senior yearbook photo from Andover High School.

At Merrimack College, Kim found herself attracted to radio and earned an air shift on the college station. In 1973, she got a job as a professional radio announcer in the Greeneville-Spartanburg-Hendersonville market and spent the next 15 years on air. During that time, she also did radio commercials for local television stations, as well as voiceovers for training films and documentaries. “Very lucrative side jobs!” she calls them.

Kim loved radio and hated to leave it, but with all its fun benefits and perks, her position didn’t pay very well. Married with a baby girl and her future to think about, Kim needed to find something more practical.

She next took a job with a multi-national textile company in Hendersonville, North Carolina, working a decade in its accounting department. In that role, she met people from all over the world and spoke daily with all different nationalities. “It was great fun,” she remembers.

The business eventually moved to the Triangle area (Raleigh/Durham), and while Kim was given the opportunity to relocate, doing so was not feasible at the time.

After her stint at the textile company, Kim took a job as the fiscal officer for Polk County Local Government in western North Carolina. It was her first foray into government accounting, and she loved it! She was responsible for organizing the annual budget for the Department of Health & Human Services, as well as for preparing the monthly forms requesting reimbursement from the state, local, and federal government for the various programs run through the agency. Kim spent 10½ years in that position.

Like Steve with his dad, Kim also found many helpful qualities from her own parents that served her well in the workforce. “Multi-tasking, organizational and customer service skills came from my mother,” she says. “Plan, organize, be polite and thorough. From my daddy, always do what you say you’re going to do and follow through!”

Kim credits her father for her understanding that integrity is the most important character trait one can possess. “You may not like me, you may not agree with me, but you can rely on me,” she explains.

Kim and Steve Williams in 2007.
Steve and Kim in 2007, shortly after they first met. (Photo courtesy of Steve and Kim Williams)

Two roads diverged

Steve and Kim’s paths crossed in the summer of 2007. Kim was staying at a friend’s beach house, taking her first big road trip after a very difficult divorce. Steve was nearby, completing some renovation work on a home that belonged to a dear friend’s neighbor. His marriage had ended the year before.

“My friend asked if it was alright if Steve stayed at the house with us for a few days while he completed the renovations,” Kim shares. “I told her that was fine with me. He wouldn’t be in our way. Well, he showed up the day after I got there, and our friend introduced him to me while I was doing some repair work on her computer. He was standing in the doorway of her den, and I thought he was just about the finest thing I’d ever seen!”

Kim admits that she tried to act nonchalant around Steve, but the chemistry between the two was palpable after their first evening together at the beach. At the end of a wonderful week, it was time for the two to part ways. They lived 225 miles and 3½ hours apart, so Kim wasn’t certain she’d ever see Steve again.

But Steve wasn’t going to let Kim slip away.

“On the way home back to the mountains, my phone rang,” Kim grins. “It was Steve.” Their mutual friend was entering Kim’s phone number into Steve’s phone, and he accidentally dialed.

“We spoke every day thereafter, too.”

Next steps

The following summer, after nearly a year of long distance dating, the two lovebirds decided that the arrangement (specifically, the space between them) had gotten old. Because it seemed more likely that Kim could find a job in Durham than Steve could find a new role in tiny Polk County, Kim’s search in the Bull City began.

“I had 53 job applications and two interviews scheduled when the position at The Forest became available,” Kim recalls. “I applied and the rest is history.”

Kim and Steve Williams riding tricycles at The Forest.
The Williamses take a fun ride together on The Forest’s new tricycles. (Photo by Lauren Young)

She sold her house in Polk County two weeks after listing it, and together, she and Steve found a lovely home in Dunbarton, a neighborhood in Durham’s Hope Valley community. The Williamses married in 2009 and brought Kim’s mother to live at The Forest the following year.

Kim was hired at The Forest to fulfill a role in Billing and Accounts Payable. As with any position, she absorbed other duties as she was able to accept and accomplish them. “I certainly have had a full plate, but I have never been bored. I have great satisfaction in the work I have done here,” she says.

Moving on and growing ever closer

Steve has four children. His oldest lives in Greeneville with her three sons and three grandchildren. His son is single and lives in Atlanta. His second daughter is engaged and lives in nearby Holly Springs with her two daughters, ages 8 and almost 2. Steve’s youngest daughter lives in Raleigh; she worked off and on at The Forest for several years.

As for Steve, his hobbies include golf and guitar, “in that order.”

Kim’s favorite pastimes include what she calls the “four Gs”: grandchildren, guitar, gardening, and watching golf. (It might surprise people to learn that Kim played guitar in a rock ‘n’ roll band for 30 years!)

Her daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren (ages 11, 9, and 7) live in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Together, Steve and Kim have already mapped out the beginning of their upcoming retirement. “We will stay long enough to find a house in South Carolina,” Kim explains. “Then we will move, and will return every 5-6 weeks to visit Mother and our family here, just as we have been doing for the past 12 years in the opposite direction.”

The two will be looking for a home around Landrum, South Carolina, which was Kim’s home from 1974 to 1988.

Adios! Steve and Kim are almost ready to trot off into the sunset together and enjoy a well deserved retirement. (Photo by Lauren Young)

Living and loving

As they prepare for the fun times ahead, the Williamses are more in love with each other than ever. Their faces light up when they talk about one another, and they practically glow when they share the same room.

“Kim makes me feel really comfortable, and she laughs at all my pranks,” Steve says fondly. “She doesn’t get mad when I do stuff to scare her or annoy her. She calls me ‘Cato,’ after Cato Fong, the man-servant prankster in the Pink Panther movie, whose mission in life is to irritate and annoy Inspector Clouseau. We respect each other’s need for personal space. That’s huge.”

Those pranks are the least of Kim’s worries – she loves them!

“I love [Steve’s] humor, his unapologetic enthusiasm for pranks, his calm patience, and his practicality,” Kim smiles. “I am excitable and impatient, and he can bring me back to Earth and put everything into perspective better than anyone I know. He is slow to anger and fast to laugh. What could be better than that?”

Steve and Kim, congratulations on your retirement! We are so grateful for your many years of service at The Forest and look forward to your future visits!

—Lauren Young, Marketing Specialist

Header image: The Williamses smile with one another in a photo taken in 2019. (Photo
courtesy of Kim and Steve Williams)
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