Wilhelm (Willy) Borner first discovered the San Juans in the early 1980s when he and his wife, Vreni, and their two young children towed a sailboat to Anacortes from the Bay Area and sailed the islands. By the end of the decade they had purchased a home on Shaw Island and in 2001 made it their primary residence.
Willy and Vreni grew up in a small town in Switzerland and emigrated to Australia after he completed his education in Mechanical Engineering. Three years later, they moved to California, where he started a business that designed and manufactured computerized automotive service equipment. Since distribution was worldwide, he traveled extensively.
When he wasn’t working, Willy loved nothing more than to be outdoors. As a child, he roamed the fields, streams and forests of Switzerland at every opportunity. In California, the family sailed, hiked, camped and skied regularly.
They have continued their outdoor activities on Shaw, while also contributing to the quality of life on their home island. Willy and Vreni have been longtime supporters of the San Juan Preservation Trust. Their support includes the donation of a conservation easement on their Shaw property soon after they moved there.
Now Willy and Vreni’s son, Andrew, and his family have also made their home on Shaw. Willy feels it is time to take an active role on the SJPT team to help shape the future of the San Juans for the benefit of all, forever.