Getting to Know ... Bill Doty

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Q. How long have you been working with Seniors First? A. Since February 2010. Before that I was a contractor down in Gilroy, doing basically the same thing for the city of Morgan Hill. Q. What does your job entail? A. We provide a handyman service for Seniors First. It?s free to seniors, both labor and materials, up to $400. It?s safety and health-related work. We do electrical, plumbing, build ramps, repair decks and stairs. We put in new parts for toilets. Pretty much everything that covers the contractor?s duty. I just repaired a heating and air-conditioning unit. Anything that we can do that?s a safety issue that we can fit within our budget, we do. Q. How did you get started in the business? A. I retired from NASA in 1999, as an aerospace engineering technician. I needed something to do and started on a ?honey do? list for elderly, disabled and low-income people. The city of Morgan Hill found out about me and asked if I would do their work for them, under their grant program for seniors, disabled, the elderly. Because I did it as a hobby and not a job that I had to make money at, my prices were very reasonable. My wife decided to retire from NASA and go to work for Sierra College; that?s why we came up here. I started with Meals on Wheels, then they heard I was a contractor and asked if I was interested in their handyman service. Q. How many hours a week do you work for Seniors First? A. It started as 8 to 10 hours. Now I?m up to 30 and 40 hours a week, including Saturday. Q. What?s the best part of the job? A. The best part of the job is the people; I make a lot of friends. They?re all elderly people who are in need of something and really appreciate what we do for them. Because they always ask if it?s going to cost anything, I always say, ?It?s not going to cost you anything; just a smile and hug.? Q. Is there a task you?d rather not tackle? A. A lot of the jobs are not fun jobs; we work on toilets, replace garbage disposals, all yucky-type things. The name of my company is Doty Custom Construction. I named it that because I do a lot of custom, or specialized, stuff for handicapped people. Q. Where did you grow up? A. I?m from Montana. I joined the Naval Air Force. When I got out of the service I stayed in San Jose, because that?s where my grandparents were. Q. Do you have a family? A. My wife is Laura. She and I have a son and a daughter, who goes to Fresno State. Our son, Spencer, who is 17, has also been employed by Seniors First because he has the background from working with me. I have three older sons and have eight grandkids. Q. What is something unique about you? A. I was with NASA for 30 years. I ended up as an aerospace engineering technician in charge of wind tunnel operations. We tested airplanes. In 1972 I was involved in testing the mock-up of the space shuttle, when they were developing it. We had a one-third scale model we tested in the wind tunnel for aerodynamics. We?ve tested almost everything you can think of that?s got to do with aviation. We even tested big rigs to try to get better mileage. Q. What is something you?re most proud of? A. Other than my children, I?m most proud that I can serve these people who are in need of our services. Editor?s note: Because of state funding cutbacks, Seniors First has had to scale back some of its programs. For information about the handyman service, call (530) 889-9500.