October 27, 1967 - December 27, 2016
Austin, Texas | Age 49
Wade Robert Gillham, late Corporate Marketing Director for Austin, TX-based Silicon Labs; beloved son, brother, husband and father; and dear friend to many, died on December 27, 2016, at Christopher House in Austin following a 28-month battle with cancer. He was 49.
The youngest of four brothers, Wade was born in Stillwater, OK, in 1967 to Bill and Anabel Gillham—a father completing his doctoral studies at Oklahoma State University and a mother raising their children. From Durant, where his father had taken a professorship in 1969, Wade and his family moved to Springfield, MO, in 1975 and from there to Fort Worth, TX, in 1981, where Wade graduated from Southwest High School in 1986. He received a BA in English Language and Literature from Baylor University in 1990, and in 1994 he was awarded an MBA in Finance and International Business from Texas A&M University, and an MIM from l'École Supérieure de Commerce in Dijon, France. He worked that year for Schlumberger in Paris, where he honed a fluency in French and was engaged to Debra Hamilton, whom he had met while at Baylor. They wed in 1995, began a family and pursued their careers around the U.S., settling in Austin in 2003.
While at Baylor in 1989, Wade and five friends founded the Baylor Mountain Biking Club, mapping and naming the trails that rambled throughout the wooded and rocky hills of Waco's Cameron Park—trail names still in use today, almost 30 years later. Bicycling would remain a great passion for him, whether sprinting through the trafficked streets of New York City, climbing among the aspen groves and meadows of the 401 Trail near Crested Butte or careening down the limestone ledges of Austin's Hill of Life. He was a hiker as well; in 1991 he summited Blanca Peak, the fourth highest "14er" of the Rocky Mountains, and every summer he climbed Peak 8 in Breckenridge, CO, with his kids. Wade loved the Alamo Draft House, music, off-road RC cars, reading and the visual arts. But above all else he loved his family, who were the great joy and cherished devotion of his life.
Over the course of his 23-year career, Wade excelled at strategic marketing and developed a commanding knowledge and understanding of the highly technical field of semiconductors, connectivity solutions, and related devices and software. He authored numerous White Papers on the subject, and as a non-engineer in an engineer-heavy company, he registered 5 patents while at Silicon Labs. In 2015, he was recognized there for ten years of outstanding contribution.
Wade was a writer, and his exploration of his illness through his blog constitutes a courageous and honest record of receiving a terminal diagnosis in middle-age, being forced to abandon a vibrant career and facing the tragic prospect of leaving his family behind. With thoughtful and transparent prose, he openly struggled to reconcile his fate with his faith. "So do I think God had any hand in my liver fiasco?" he wrote. "No. I don't think he meddles in humanity very much, if ever. I think what happened, happened. I don't hold anyone accountable. It's life. But do I think God knows what it's like to suffer, and therefore can empathize with me and will welcome me to his arms when the time comes? Yes, I do."
With logic and reason, Wade parsed through his disease and its implications, returning to what proved a touchstone: the Scripture's promise of "a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Peter 1:3). His writing has inspired many, turning bright light onto hope, perseverance, and what is most important in this life. At the time of his death, his final post had more than 1100 reads.
Throughout his life, Wade was guided by the words "never just"—a practiced mantra that colored, deepened and inspired those around him. A walk with his family was never just a walk but an opportunity to nourish and relish deeply valued relationships; a building was never just a structure but a study in design, functionality and materials; Wade never took a thunderstorm for granted. "To relish, savor and appreciate life while we have it colors it more vividly," he reflected. "Soak up the sensations of life. Absorb each as a chorus and then in their individual voices. Live like you are dying."
Wade is survived by his wife, Debra, and their three children Cate, William and Benjamin; his brothers Preston and William, and Preston's wife, Dianne; his father- and mother-in-law Mac and Gayle Hamilton; and his brother- and sister-in-law Rick and Jody Hamilton and their children Taylor, Joshua and Brooke.
Wade was a member at All Saints Presbyterian Church in Austin, where his memorial service will be held on Friday, January 6 at 10 a.m. All Saints was a great friend and source of support for the Gillhams during Wade's illness. For those wishing to make a contribution in his honor, the family suggests donating in his name to the church, which plans to construct a columbarium for the public storage of cinerary urns; a portion of Wade's ashes will be deposited there.
In one of his last blog posts, Wade recorded his thoughts on mindfulness while walking the block with his dog, Beau. "I circled the cul-de-sac and began to walk back up the hill. I was so far from where I started. Quiet. I was struck with the word be. Be. Be. Be.... I breathed it in.
Be. Where you are.
Be. With who you're with.
Be. And don't miss the joy of being."