CONTRA COSTA TIMES -- Mims grew up in Bay Point before moving to Pittsburg, where he met his wife of nearly 50 years, Darlene Mims. He worked at the Concord Naval Weapons Station during the 1960s, then during the 1970s earned a Master’s degree in English from San Francisco State.
In the 1980s, Mims began his tenure at John Kinney High School, a continuation school in Vallejo. Back then, violent conflicts would frequently break out between groups of young people from Vallejo’s Country Club Crest, Lofas and South Vallejo neighborhoods, former John Kinney High Vice Principal Lender Golden said.
“Students had very little respect for authority. They were very argumentative and would fight, but Willie taught them about respect, and being a man and being the person you want to be,” Golden said. “He talked about self-empowerment, coming to school on time. If he saw students hanging out on the corner, he would actually go out and round them up and tell them to go back to school.”
Photo courtesy of the NAACP, East Contra Costa County chapter