KEYSTONE – Many people take up golf when they retire. When Harley Williams retired, he quit playing golf – it’s too time-consuming, he said. And as chairman of Summit County’s Republican Party and the grandfather of nine, Williams has plenty to fill his time.After years of working for the oil, gas, and mineral industries in the law and business sectors, Williams decided to try his hand at politics.”Politics is a way to get into the community, something I wasn’t able to do a lot when I was working because I was always travelling,” Williams said.He served his first term as chairman of Summit County’s Republican Party seven years ago then began a second two-year term in 2001.”Most people have a negative perception of politicians,” Williams said. “I wish that image would change, and the only way to change is to get involved. I don’t gain anything from being involved – it costs me money. But it’s my civic duty.”Born in Golden, Williams earned an undergraduate accounting degree and law degree from the University of Colorado, where he met his wife, Mardy.”I was crashing her freshman mixer,” he said. “I was a junior; I wasn’t supposed to be there.”After law school, Williams joined the Air Force and worked as a judge advocate in the military court. The job led the Williamses to Abilene, Texas.Then, a job offer from the Denver law firm Holland & Hart brought them back to Colorado and planted what would become strong ties with the oil, gas, and mining industries.”Law offered tremendous variety,” Williams said. “I bounced around into something different every day.”The project-oriented nature of law also held Williams’ interest. He worked as the lead lawyer for one of the biggest projects in history, the Alaskan Pipeline.Eventually, Williams became frustrated with what he called the “extremism” he found in environmental law and shifted his career into the business world.”I was working in Washington (D.C.), and it was discouraging that I couldn’t get my point across,” he said. “A lot of the laws were based on emotion, and I wanted a more practical, reasonable approach.”Executive positions with coal and oil companies led Williams to Cleveland and, later, Chicago, where he and Mardy raised their family.When asked which of his legal, business, and political ventures was most rewarding, Williams answered “none of the above.””Family is the most rewarding thing,” he said. “Watching them develop and grow.”Now that the Williamses’ three children have their own children, Harley and Mardy’s home in Keystone Ranch is the family’s gathering place. Skiing, fishing, and staying active with the Rotary Club are enjoyable parts of his Summit County lifestyle.”We bought this home with the idea that it would be a magnet for our kids, and it has been,” Williams said. “The mountains are a big part of our life.”
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