Donating His Estate to the Wikimedia Foundation: The Story of Jim Pacha

Jim Pacha – Legacy Donor, Wikimedia Foundation

 
As he reflected on his life in a video interview with the Wikimedia Foundation on April 29, Jim Pacha beamed and smiled a lot. During the talk, Pacha was reminded of all the remarkable things that happened to him, including highlights in learning and career advancement. Pacha became a senior software engineer at a prestigious aerospace company, even though he never graduated from college. He entered his profession at one of its lowest ranks and through the years mastered the necessary skills through study and hard work.
“The thing I’m proudest of,” Pacha said, “is that I’m essentially self-educated. I got started as an assembler. I worked my way through as a technician, and then as a junior engineer.”
An illness prompted Pacha to consider how to give back to the world, and he decided to donate much of his estate to the Wikimedia Foundation, to support our vision of bringing the sum of human knowledge to people everywhere. Pacha wanted others to benefit the way that he benefited, and he believed Wikipedia — with 30 million free articles on every subject imaginable — embodied his highest ideals. Prior to his legacy gift, Pacha made regular donations to the Wikimedia Foundation.
“Educating the world and getting everybody on the same playing field — I think it’s great,” he said. “And the fact that it’s done with no advertising is a big thing, because I really don’t like what’s happening in the world today, with corporate involvement in everything. And I like the fact that Wikipedia is on the World Wide Web, so basically the whole world can access it.”
Pacha passed away on May 7 at age 66. He accomplished much in his life. Growing up in Illinois, he wanted to see as much of the United States as possible. He visited 45 states. He loved playing golf, even though the game turned into “flog” when he was on the course, he joked. “My handicap would probably be in the 30s and 40s,” he said laughing. Pacha came from a long line of determined people, he said. His father, Harold Pacha, fought for the United States in World War II, and retired as a Brigadier General. Pacha’s last name, which is pronounced like “pay-shuh,” is rooted in family that came to the United States in the 1840s from central Europe. “When they came to Ellis Island, the spelling was something like Pdeskja. It’s one of those names — you hear it, you can’t spell it, you see it, you can’t say it.”
At Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, located in Boulder, Colorado, Pacha designed, developed, integrated, tested and maintained instrument sensor and spacecraft simulations. It was a key position for a company that has helped support such operations as the Hubble Telescope, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and NASA’s CloudSat observation satellite. Pacha began using Wikipedia in 2006. “It was in conjunction with doing research for a project I was working on,” he said. “It was on propulsion systems or something along that nature.” Pacha went on disability in October of 2011 due to his illness, and made arrangements to make his legacy gift to Wikimedia in April 2014, after his health took a turn for the worse.
His illness, Pacha said, reminded him of what was important in life. “The vision of the Wikimedia Foundation is quite altruistic, and that’s basically my take on the world as well,” he said. “That would include medicine as well as education, in terms of everybody should have access to it. I realize that’s a pretty big dollop, and if we can get to the information part of it, that will help.”
Pacha’s gift to the Wikimedia Foundation is the largest legacy gift in our history. We’re extremely grateful for his generous donation, and we offer our most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. Thank you, Jim. Thank you for everything that you did in your life.
Caitlin Virtue, Development Outreach Manager, Wikimedia Foundation
If you’re inspired by Jim Pacha’s gift and would like to to learn more about legacy giving, please visit: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Legacy_Gift.

Archive notice: This is an archived post from blog.wikimedia.org, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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We are so fortunate to have people like Jim supporting our work.

Jim is leaving behind a trail of goodness. I’ll think about him and his generosity when I look at images from Hubble and Spitzer and when I’m deciding day-to-day how to spend my time. I am moved by his example.

Thanks Jim

Many thanks to Jim for his vision and his generosity.

Thank you, Jim, for your overwhelming generosity.

Thank you Jim! Wikipedia is the greatest gift to human advancement, and your “big dollop” and many others makes this gift thrive.

We have nice things because of people like Jim! That’s the type of name that should not be forgotten.

We need more people like this in the world. Many thanks Jim. Rest In Peace.

[…] by metodz [link] […]

RIP Jim..

Thank you Jim. You are an inspiration to all of us.

It is great to see this post. Jim left an important and meaningful legacy. Also, by highlighting this story and opening the door to planned gifts and bequests, the Wikimedia Foundation turns over a new leaf. I interpret this story as a sign of Wikimedia’s commitment to the long-term health of the world’s greatest resource for free knowledge. With historical perspective, from the inside, this announcement is a clarion call of sorts. Wikimedia is a healthy organization with economy of scale, adaptive capacity, and accountability beyond a one-year horizon. The Foundation deserves more credit and less scrutiny (or noise) for… Read more »

Thank you!

My eyes are leaking! I feel like I learned a big lesson in how to live a meaningful life, and how that brings your own mortality into perspective. To me he seemed to be able to face the end of his own life by connecting it with those of millions of others who share his dream of a better world. Touching and beautiful and inspiring.

Jim was a dear friend for 40 years. A lifelong bachelor save for dating my cousin, Carol, for several years before she passed, he spent most holiday meals with my family and saw all our children grow into adulthood. Everyone called him ‘Uncle Pacha.’ I can attest he was all of the good things mentioned above and so much more! Jim was kind, gentle, thoughtful and concerned about others. He was smart as they come, intellectually curious, focused, productive and goal-directed. I know personally from the past few weeks talking with him how happy he was knowing he would be… Read more »

Between sessions at the Broadway League Spring Road Conference in NYC, I received notice of Jim’s passing and generous gift. He was one of my favorite people though our paths rarely crossed after elementary school. It is interesting to ponder the amazing influence of the electronic media so much a part of Jim’s life. Isolated togetherness-what an amazing concept. Thanks, Jim-for letting me know you for our brief moment. I will think of you every time I borrow information from Wikipedia. God bless.

[…] Jim Pacha fue un hombre autodidacta. A pesar de nunca haber culminado la universidad, se convirtió en un ingeniero de software de una prestigiosa compañía aeroespacial, donde llegó a colaborar en proyectos como el telescopio espacial Hubble o el satélite CloudSat de la NASA. En octubre de 2011, una enfermedad lo incapacitó y, en abril de 2014 –cuando su salud lo llevó al borde de la muerte–, tomó una decisión: dejar su herencia a Wikipedia. […]

[…] Jim Pacha fue un hombre autodidacta. A pesar de nunca haber culminado la universidad, se convirtió en un ingeniero de software de una prestigiosa compañía aeroespacial, donde llegó a colaborar en proyectos como el telescopio espacial Hubble o el satélite CloudSat de la NASA. En octubre de 2011, una enfermedad lo incapacitó y, en abril de 2014 –cuando su salud lo llevó al borde de la muerte–, tomó una decisión: dejar su herencia a Wikipedia. […]

[…] Jim Pacha fue un hombre autodidacta. A pesar de nunca haber culminado la universidad, se convirtió en un ingeniero de software de una prestigiosa compañía aeroespacial, donde llegó a colaborar en proyectos como el telescopio espacial Hubble o el satélite CloudSat de la NASA. En octubre de 2011, una enfermedad lo incapacitó y, en abril de 2014 –cuando su salud lo llevó al borde de la muerte–, tomó una decisión: dejar su herencia a Wikipedia. […]

[…] Jim Pacha fue un hombre autodidacta. A pesar de nunca haber culminado la universidad, se convirtió en un ingeniero de software de una prestigiosa compañía aeroespacial, donde llegó a colaborar en proyectos como el telescopio espacial Hubble o el satélite CloudSat de la NASA. En octubre de 2011, una enfermedad lo incapacitó y, en abril de 2014 –cuando su salud lo llevó al borde de la muerte–, tomó una decisión: dejar su herencia a Wikipedia. […]

Jim Pacha was Uncle Jim to me. I grew up not knowing the incredible amount of sacrifice and work my uncle went through to achieve all that he did. Only in the last couple years did I become aware of the incredible journey Jim went through to achieve so much. I am proud to have shared time with my uncle, and even prouder that his legacy will live on, not only with this donation to WikiMedia, but with his endowments to the University of Mining in Colorado. Sixteen scholarships, providing a head start Jim never had the luxury of enjoying… Read more »

Huo do not understand and it that I was the best in my class jajajajajaja:D that rare ok. good-bye Ricardo:D

huo ne connais pas et cela que j’ai été le meilleur dans ma classe jajajajajaja 😀 que rare ok. adieu Ricardo:D

This is very inspiring. This world needs people like Jim Pacha. Thank you so much Jim.

Jim was a big fan of the game of Go. He originally played chess (that is how I met him at the student center of the University of Colorado/Boulder in 1972). Around 1974 he turned to Go. He played in several of the AGA (American Go Association) congresses, traveling to them by car with my cousin Carol. From their return reports, those were memorable and enjoyable excursions for both of them. He played Go on the PandaNet server (www.pandanet-igs.com). Before his illness he briefly held the ranking of shodan (1-dan) coveted by amateurs. You can see his games by registering… Read more »

Happy Birthday, Jim. The family misses you lots!

It must have been wonderful to know you in person, sir.
Thank you for your inspiration, that we may ourselves have the courage to know (and share) in your kindness and selflessness.
“What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
May the wiind be at your back

Jim and I always called each other Uncle. I was ‘Unc’ and he was ‘Unk’ when we exchanged emails.
This started when he first arrived in Boulder, Colorado in the spring of 1972. He would come to the games area in the Student Union and watch a group of us play chess, but not say anything. After a few days of this the fellow I was playing looked at me, pointed to Jim and said playfully, “Who’s he?” I said “That’s my Uncle!”
So began a wonderful 42 year friendship.
Today is Jim’s birthday. He would have been 68.

Many thanks to Jim for his contributions.

This is a kind man and I use present tense purposefully. Love is wonderful gift and beyond beautiful

Today (April 15) would have been Jim’s 69th birthday. Peace, Unk. You are missed.

This is a nice way to be remembered. Smart move, Jim!