The tapestry of the life of a medically complex family

My Father

My father was a brilliant man. He led the design team which developed the technology, now GPS & LoJack, used by the military to locate pilots who had gone down in enemy territory. He secured 6 patents for his company [GTE Sylvania] where he worked first as a co-op student through Northeastern U, through his retirement in his early 50s. He was a government contract specialist & sat lunch with the team who developed the “bar code”- then top secret for the railroad- and rode aircraft carriers to test & improve the technology that he & his teams designed.

He was in the military, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Army Reserves. In addition to his work as an engineer, he taught military strategy & other courses for the army at their nearby base 2 evenings/week. If you struggled with math homework, he was ever ready to assist- but keep in mind that he might teach you 6 different ways to arrive at the answer- thereby confusing you further- and he would never GIVE you the answer, just tell you how to figure it out on your own.

Frankly, that about sums up how he felt about the whole job of fathering: teach tools. Give the kids the tools they need to survive in a world that is competitive, and not always kind, and you have done your job. He was the dad who gave us roller skates & a skate key & let us “have at it” on our driveway- 1/5 of a mile long, mostly hill, some very steep. You sure learned a lot if you chose to go around the parking area counter-clockwise & ended up skidding downhill if you missed the turn!

One of my most fond memories of him as a kid is captured in an old family photo. My Dad is sitting in our over-stuffed armchair, 4 kids spilling over onto the arms of the chair, infant in his arms & our first copy of the book “Ira Sleeps Over” in his outstretched hand. His reading of stories was magical- each character having their own sound & personality. Our attention was always completely riveted to the story at hand. I inherited my love of literature from him and have a collection of children’s books that rivals our local library.

He taught us to swing a golf club- his fellow legislators called him a “shark” after playing their first tournament with him. He was a Ham Radio Operator who “Worked All Counties [in MA]”, “Worked All Continents”, & “Worked All Countries”- yes, he communicated with someone from every country in the world where a Ham Radio Operator transmitted.  Every Christmas, Santa gave him a “callbook” from all 5 kids [only sound explanation since we never knew where it came from]. He came home on nights after work and sat us at the table to teach us morse code- just in case we ever needed it to get assistance. He was directive, instructional & a person admired by many.

In addition to his military service, he worked in town government [Budget Committee, Technology Committee…], set up then upgraded all the town computer systems through 1995, chaired the “Save Town Meeting” committee in NH and served as a NH representative. After 3 terms as NH Representative for our town, he retired his seat and succumbed to the cancer ravaging his body. He was 60 years old. It’ll be 16 years on my youngest’s next birthday & I still miss him.

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