Standing on the shoulders

90 years ago today, my mother was born. She lived for 86 of those 90 years, a full life with no regrets, fully engaged until the very end. I miss hearing her reflections on the world and sharing my own, yet so very grateful for her influence and the time we had.

Prompted by such memories and the tradition of year-end retrospectives, today I am recalling my mother and a few others whose influence during my early years shaped who I am today.

My mother—For her devotion and steadfast support in countless ways throughout my life.

My father—An enigma, whose example defined the person I did not want to become. In later years, I have come to appreciate his more subtle strengths of creativity, innovation, and humor.

Les Gray—He engaged my intellect and interest in philosophy and politics. His example taught me the importance of integrity and service.

Carl Roliff—He gave a kid an opportunity, fostered my interest in engineering, and started me on the path to a career.

HRP—He gave me the opportunity to glimpse and experience a few of the finer things in life, while schooling me in decorum.

Frank Date—A quiet presence who kept me connected to Scouting, from which I learned about persistence and character and Nature.

Florence Lehners—My english teacher my senior year in high school. She set high standards, and I learned that not taking the easy way has benefits that outweigh the hard work.

Isaac Newton said “If I have seen further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In that same spirit, I would have to say that my life and journey have been enriched by these women and men who so unselfishly shared themselves.

I hope in some way that my own life will repay these precious gifts by being a positive influence on others.

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