The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


August 12, 2006

Wikipedia founder, Huntsville native Jimmy Wales, finds fame ‘really cool’

Doris Wales’ husband, Jimmy, wasn’t sure what she was thinking when she bought a set of World Book Encyclopedia from a traveling salesman in 1968. After all, their first-born son, also named Jimmy, was not yet 3.

“At the time, my husband said ‘I’m glad you got them, but don’t you think he’s a little bit young?’ but I wanted to have those,” said Mrs. Wales, a former educator who is now a pharmacist at Publix on Madison Boulevard.

More than 37 years later, Mrs. Wales’ purchase seems predestined.

Little Jimmy began reading at 4, and looked forward to receiving an envelope each year from World Book. Inside were stickers that encyclopedia owners could place on pages to update information.

“If someone discovered a new planet, or when they developed space shuttles, the original books we bought didn’t have all that in it,” Mrs. Wales said. So she and little Jimmy would update the books, learning as they carefully placed the stickers.

Learning would become a lifelong love.

Little Jimmy is Jimmy Donal Wales, 40, founder of Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia that has intrigued the world and brought him dozens of honors and accolades, including being named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in May.

Geek seeks new frontiers

Born in Huntsville in 1966, Wales was taught in his childhood by his mother and grandmother, Erma. The women owned and operated House of Learning Elementary School, where as few as four students might be enrolled in each grade.

At the time, Huntsville had come into prominence as the incubator for missile development at Redstone Arsenal and space research at Marshall Space Flight Center, which opened as a NASA facility in 1960.

Wales was a month shy of his third birthday when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969, and the excitement of living in the Rocket City stayed with him.

Text Only
Top Local News
Today's Local Feature

State and Nation
Local Sports
Calendar of Events
Weather Radar

Do you think Athens-Limestone County is better prepared than in April 2011 to provide shelter from a major tornado?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Business Marquee
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.