Guest Post: Remembering William Robert Korthof – 1978 to 2014

[Here at Transport Evolved, we aim to cover all forms of future car technology, from new, cleaner fuels to advanced safety technology, congestion-reducing multi-modal transportation solutions, and technology that makes our every day travel more convenient. But despite the wide remit of our site today, those of us on the editorial team have a strong leaning towards the world of plug-in vehicles and renewable energy, with every one of us actively involved in the world of plug-in cars at both a professional and a personal level. 

William Robert Korthof: 1978-2014. Photograph by Phuong Vo

William Robert Korthof: 1978-2014. Photograph by Phuong Vo

Sometimes, we encounter someone so important in the evolved transportation sphere that they make an indelible mark on the industry, be it in the form of advocacy, engineering genius, or business acumen. And when that person leaves us, we are truly saddened. 

Last week, just a few days after his thirty-sixth birthday, William Robert Korthof, a bright, young electric vehicle advocate and solar power expert, was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. His death has sent shockwaves through the tight-knit community of electric vehicle drivers who knew him in California, the U.S., and more widely around the world. 

We’ve reached out to electric car advocate Linda Nicoleswho knew both William and his family well, to provide us with an obituary celebrating his life. 

On behalf of the editorial team and our readers, we’d like to pass on our deepest condolences and thoughts to his family and friends at this difficult time. – ed]

As well as his tireless work with electric cars and renewable energy, William was a keen runner.

As well as his tireless work with electric cars and renewable energy, William was a keen runner.

William Robert Korthof was only 36 years old on October 2nd when he was tragically and instantly killed as a passenger on a motorcycle during a fatal collision with a car. Though his life was all-too-brief, that life was packed with diverse and meaningful action. It seemed as though there were nothing this young man could not do or could not accomplish. To name only a few of William’s passions, interests and missions:  marathon runner, committed environmentalist, scholar, licensed solar contractor and champion, hands-on technician, electric vehicle charging infrastructure installer, sustainable landscaper, energy efficiency expert, business owner and electric transportation advocate. This exceptional young entrepenuor owned numerous homes in the Pomona area which he rented out to young people who shared his life-long enthusiasm for green living. William retrofitted each of these communal homes with gray water / rainwater catchment and energy efficiency systems, sustainable landscaping and rooftop solar arrays.

Over the years William owned and presided over two solar companies:  EE Solar founded in 2001 and most recently, Sustainable Solutions Partners which was owned and operated by Mr. Korthof in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas with the motto:  “We Make Green Living Simple.”  While Sustainable Solutions installs and maintains hundreds of solar photovoltaic business and residential systems in the state of California, the company also reflects William’s holistically green vision by functioning as a full-service operation that promotes all manner of “Sustainable Solutions” from water-saving technologies to electric vehicle charger installation and service upgrades.

William was never far from a plug-in car.

William was never far from a plug-in car.

William was apparently born with a mission. And that mission was to not only install the hardware to make clean, efficient living possible, but to educate others about ways to produce cleaner energy, save resources and make this world a better, cleaner and healthier place in which to live. His practical, hands-on approach to energy efficiency and solar panel installation is reflected in this simple quote:  “Solar panels can become an important part of California’s power mix, especially as traditional energy sources become more expensive.”  When powerful words were not enough to accomplish his green goals, William would roll up his sleeves, bring out the tools and simply place panels on as many California roofs as his vision and scope allowed. William’s solar companies not only lassoed the sun on the roofs of hundreds –perhaps thousands –of California solar customers, his companies also provided solar power for the annual Burning Man desert festival as well as southern California environmental events like WorldFest.

William was passionate about the potential of solar-powered transportation and in that vein installed hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations in California. Historically, William categorically refused to return his electric Ford Ranger pickup for crushing by Ford Motor Company and, along with two other drivers, parked his pickup in front of a Ford Sacramento dealership in the cold winter of 2004 to help inspire Ford to stop crushing its electric Rangers.  This highly publicized action marked the beginning of the energized electric vehicle movement  — and it worked.  Ford immediately stopped crushing and offered electric Ranger drivers the ability to extend their leases.

William was fearless.  He inspired, he educated, he led by example and he always opened doors. He made possibilities become realities. He will be sorely missed.

Gratefully,

Linda Nicholes.

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