Co-workers and friends expressed shock and disbelief Monday, following the apparent suicide of Clovis Community College instructor William H. Windley Jr.
Police said Windley, 32, of Portales, purchased a gun and ammunition on Friday afternoon at the Beaulieu Brothers Pawn City store in Clovis, then shot himself in the head in front of about 10 customers and employees.
Officials at both Clovis Community College, where Windley taught, and Eastern New Mexico University, where he attended school, are holding memorial services for him on Thursday. The ENMU service will be at 1 p.m. in the Campus Union Zia Room; the CCC service will be at 3 p.m. but the location has not been announced.
Windley was a member of Victory Life Church in Portales, where Pastor David Markham said he’d attended about a year.
“He was very helpful, he had a very sweet nature about him,” Markham said. “He started attending last year during the school year. He visited and had continued to come and accepted Jesus Christ as his lord and savior and we were able to water baptize him and he was very much of a blessing to our church and our people.”
Markham said Victory Life Church has already held a memorial service for Windley and he plans to participate in the Clovis Community College memorial. Markham said church members had trouble believing Windley would shoot himself.
“Will was a very meek and mild person who wouldn’t hurt anybody,” Markham said. “There was an issue that he very much loved his son and it was looking like there might be a possibility that he might not have the time he desired to have with him. Whatever other issues there may have been in his personal life, we don’t know and would rather leave that to the family.
“We are confident that we know Will was in heaven despite making a bad decision at a very dark moment in his life,” Markham said. “It’s affected us in a lot of different ways but we also take consolation and some peace in knowing that he was able, from our perspective, to receive eternal life.”
Members of Windley’s family could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Becky Rowley, vice president for educational services at Clovis Community College, said Windley had been a member of the computer information systems staff for two semesters.
“He was a very well-respected faculty member by both students and faculty,” Rowley said. “He taught a lot of our upper-end CIS classes and spent a lot of time with students outside of class and helping them with their classes.”
Rowley said Windley was a faculty advisor to the Black Student Union and spent a great deal of time volunteering with the college’s TRIO program, a federally funded program that works with first generation, low-income or disabled college students to keep them in college.
“He was a good teacher, he was a young teacher, he was energetic and he knew a lot about his subject matter,” Rowley said.
Tara Grant, director of student support services at Clovis Community College, said she’d known Windley for six years since they were both at Eastern New Mexico University.
“He was a wonderful person; he was always there for people,” Grant said. “I’ve had multiple people tell me that he was very dependable and a good friend.”
“He volunteered an hour a week to help students in CIS classes who were perhaps struggling,” Grant said. “I think the best thing about him was students who have spoken to me today have used words such as ‘He was a teacher and made sure you understood before you went on.’”
CCC has established a scholarship fund in Windley’s memory, according to President Beverlee McClure, who said free and confidential counseling has also been made available to employees and students.