The Western Institute for Lifelong Learning (WILL) approaches learning as a lifetime adventure for continued intellectual and personal discovery in a supportive, expansive, and informal environment. We encourage eager learners of any age to join. Members bring talents and life experiences to WILL, making our courses and social events lively places to learn.

Will is a grass-roots organization created by Grant County residents and is a partner of Western New Mexico University in Silver City.

If ongoing learning outside the traditional classroom appeals to you, then get a [ Membership/Travel Form (PDF) ] and Join us at WILL.
JIM HUSE - President
After receiving a degree from UCLA in mathematics and computer science, Jim Huse moved away from the big city and into the mountains of Southern California. He was self employed in the construction industry for 20 years. He and his wife retired early and traveled the world for seven years. He moved to Silver City in 2001 after spending those years of traveling looking for a place to land. Jim enjoys the quietness and beauty of hiking in the wilderness areas of the Gila. He spent five years on the board of Habitat for Humanity and was the project manager and construction site supervisor for three houses that Habitat built in Grant County while also serving as the Treasurer of Habitat for three years. Jim was also active in Grant County Search and Rescue for many years. Jim was Curriculum Committee Chair for two years before becoming President.
CINDY LINDHORN - Vice President
In a moment of sheer whimsy, Cindy Lindhorn, and her husband, Tim, bought a home in Silver City in 2005 while traveling through on their way to somewhere else. Five years later, after some peripatetic meandering with a trailer and their three dogs in tow, they couldn't quite remember the moment of bliss that had inspired this purchase. That is, until they finally landed here in the summer of 2010 and took in the blue skies, breathtaking vistas, and the interesting citizens of this great little town. Cindy's career of twenty seven years in financial services was conducted in Colorado Springs, with extended assignments in San Antonio and Seattle. Through most of her tenure, she was the training and project management director for the 'Rocky Mountain' and northwest regions. Since retirement, she's discovered that art, travel, bridge and hiking are the best things that could have happened to her. She also enjoys practicing Reiki, and cooking and sampling as much gourmet food as her Levis will allow. And, of course, attending WILL classes!
LYNN HAUGEN - Secretary
Lynn, a member of the WILL Curriculum Committee since 2012, began teaching at WNMU in 2009 where she is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Sciences. Originally from the Los Angeles area, Lynn went to graduate school at the University of Oklahoma. She conducted her doctoral dissertation research at a remote field station in the Amazon Basin of Peru, studying parental care and mating system of a Neotropical treefrog. She met Julian Lee in Brazil while birding in the Pantanal and the two moved to Silver City in 2006.
LINDA HANNAN - Treasurer
Linda is originally from Arizona. She retired from the Flood Control District of Maricopa County after 25 years. She served as Financial Services Manager at Flood Control for the last 10 years. She was responsible for the payroll, accounts payable and receivable, fixed assets and travel functions, as well as budget tracking and main audit contact. She and her husband Lee moved to the Silver City area from Tempe in September 2007. They had made many trips to Silver City over several years and decided that is where they wanted to retire. They both enjoy the outdoors, camping and hiking so it is the perfect place. Linda also enjoys doing several crafts and learning new ones at WILL classes.
HELEN LEMAL - Registrar
Helen moved to Silver City from Raleigh, N.C. when she retired as a Physician Assistant in Family Practice. She grew up in suburbs of NYC, Philadelphia, and Chicago and got a BS-Ed in Chemistry from the U. of Wisconsin, Madison. After marriage she moved to Hanover, NH/Norwich, Vt., where she raised her four children, taught science, math in junior and senior high school and learned to figure skate, ski, play tennis, garden and take advantage of free courses at Dartmouth College. Helen joined the staff at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center to do research and clinical trials in Cardiology. After seventeen years in cardiology, she left to attend Duke University to become a Physician Assistant. Her four children and eight grandchildren continue to keep her running around the country.
RON GABIOUD - Membership Chair
Ron recently took the jump into retired life. His professional career focused on providing mental health services to adolescents and children. After 17 years of working in psychiatric inpatient (NM State Hospitals, Heights Psychiatric Hospital - Albuquerque), and community mental health settings (Border Area), he re-tooled and became an elementary school counselor. Working in both Cobre and Silver School Districts, he provided counseling services for children and families for another 17 years. Ron and his wife, Barbara, and their two young sons decided to relocate to Silver City from Albuquerque in 1994. The relocation turned out to be the right move at the right time. The Silver community and environment has enriched their lives in countless ways. He has participated in WILL since the beginning, enjoying classes from film and music to pickleball. With more time on his hands, he is looking forward to becoming more active in the organization.
DOUG DEXTER - Social Committee Chair
Doug was born in New York City, lived briefly in New Jersey then moved to Pasadena, Ca at the age of 13. He attended schools in Pasadena, including Pasadena City College. He took active duty in the US Navy to satisfy a reserve commitment after marrying Dixie, to whom he has now been married for 50 years. He then spent 2 years serving sea duty. He began his career in the Electronics Distribution business, holding positions as Northwest Regional Manager, Division Manager, Marketing and Sales Manager over a period of 22 years with three (3) National Distributers. In 1985 he joined a startup enterprise, writing the original business plan for the founder of Atari and Chucky Cheese, Pizza Time Theaters. He left the electronics industry to enter garment manufacturing as the General Manager, later moving to open a maquilladora in Tijuana, where he spent 10 years handling facilities, finance and import/export. He returned to California in 2001, joining a successful, privately owned and operated commercial and industrial construction company as a Project Manager. He retired in 2008, having completed his most successful year, completing more than twenty-two million dollars of ground up and interior office improvements. He has served as the WILL Shepherd Coordinator and Audio Visual Coordinator since Spring Semester of 2009. He also serves as the Secretary for the Gila Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen. He and his wife Dixie have three grown children living in Silver City and Southern California.
Kathie Gilbert currently serves as the Accreditation Liaison Officer and University Ombudsperson at Western New Mexico University where she is also holds the title of Vice President Emeritus for Academic Affairs. After 25 years working at Mississippi State University, where she held a joint professorship in Economics and Political Science and served as chair of the Finance, Economics, and Applied Legal Studies Department, Kathie and her husband moved to the southwest in search of open skies and a bit less humidity. Performance excellence and quality initiatives fill Kathie's spare time as she serves as an alumni examiner for the Baldrige Performance Excellence Award, a judge for the International Team Competition sponsored by the American Society for Quality, teaches for WNMU's Economic Development Course on campus and in Mexico, and does quality-based consulting for Ellucian™ at higher learning institutions throughout the U.S
LINDA FERRARA - Curriculum Committee Chair
Before moving to Silver City in late 2000, Linda was a project manager at a large bank in New Jersey. Her assignments included opening new bank branches, closing branches, selling the company's credit card portfolio, and overhauling various departments to improve workflow and document procedures. Once settled in Silver, she and her husband helped create "Literacy Link - Leamos" the local literacy program where they were both on the board for 10 years. She particularly enjoys tutoring through the program and collecting over 2000 books a year to distribute at the organization's annual event, "Love Your Library." She became a Realtor in 2001 and enjoyed assisting people relocate to Silver City. Upon retirement in 2012, she challenged herself to complete 100 hikes in a year and wrote about it in a blog: 100hikesinayear.wordpress.com. She now writes a monthly hiking article named Trail Mix in The Independent and hikes as often as possible. In her free time she enjoys cooking, camping, traveling, and volunteering at a local greenhouse that provides food to area residents. She can regularly be heard saying, "When did I ever have time to work?!?"
PATTY REED - Marketing Chair
Patty Reed and her husband Fred Fox have been residents of Silver City for 27 years. She believes that Silver is a place where all things are possible if a person wants to get involved. She and Fred raised two wonderful boys, now men here in Silver. Fred practiced Family Medicine and Patty practiced Marriage and Family Therapy. Yes, she tried that on her family but all three of her men were way too smart to fall for her occasional "And how does that make you feel?" Three and a half years ago, after 40 years, Patty retired from that profession. Patty loved being on the Silver Consolidated School Board for 12 years under the fine guidance of Superintendent Dick Pool. She got to hand both of her sons their high school diplomas. In honor of her mother, Betty Reed, who was once the President of Duke Institute for Lifelong Learning , Patty recruited a wonderful group of thinkers who with grand brainstorming and the support of then president of WNMU John Counts, created Western Institute for Lifelong Learning.
FRANK MERRITT - Program Coordinator
Frank moved to Silver City in 1999, taught at WNMU for seven years, and was then chair of the WILL Curriculum Committee for four years. He grew up in Detroit, and met his wife in Oregon, where he taught in elementary school. Frank moved to Silver after ten years in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he worked as a therapist. He enjoys walking, traveling, watching the stock market gyrate and of course good food, wine and coffee.
Pam spent the major part of her working life in the book business - in publishing, managing a small bookstore, and with Barnes & Nobles' home office in Manhattan - with a few years doing some interesting side forays in employment and lots of travel. Upon her retirement in 2007, she and her husband did a 5-month road trip in the Southwest, planning to visit "this great little town in southwestern New Mexico" that they'd heard about from a wildlife volunteer and a musician. They fell in love with the town right away (one of the deciding factors being the WILL program), but it took a couple years for them to find the right house here and sell their house in the rainy northwest. Pam became a volunteer with WILL almost immediately, as a shepherd for WILL classes, and helping to set up for meetings. She quickly went on from there to become part of the Curriculum Committee and the Social Committee. In addition to WILL, she is Treasurer of the Gila Native Plant Society, is part of the founding committee of the Southwest Festival of the Written Word, volunteers in smaller capacities for various other organizations in town, and is an enthusiastic birdwatcher, hiker, reader and movie buff.
Before retiring in 2005, my husband Lee and I had been high school teachers for 30+ years in Montana & Nevada. He was an industrial arts teacher/P.E, and I taught Special Education. We decided on retirement in Silver City because we'd both had ties here from years ago. Lee is a WNMU graduate (1966 BA & 1972 MA) , and since being born in El Paso and raised in Anthony, Texas, I'd been through Silver City often for camping trips to Willow Creek & Alpine AZ. Upon "returning" to Silver, Lee has been working part time as a welder for WNMU (his paid hobby) and we've thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the University's Alumni Events over the last 10 years! In Feb. 2006, I was hired as the Volunteer Coordinator for MRAC and served there for 4+ years. Since then, I've continued to be a volunteer during special events like the Blues, Pickamania, Chocolate Fantasia, Clay Festival, and the Southwest Festival of the Written Word. Because I've enjoyed and taken advantage of many WILL courses offered, I looked forward to the opportunity to give back to WILL as a new board member.