Today would’ve been my Dad’s 87th birthday. He was 6”2’ metalurgical engineer with a Ph.D. From Carnegie Mellon of German and English decent who always has a pocket protector filled with mechanical pencils and corduroy pants. 1.
He was born in 1933 in Pittsburgh in the part of town where German immigrants lived. He remembers when the steel mills were so busy, the afternoons were dark from soot in the air. 2.
After undergrad, he was an officer in the air force as a navigator on a refueling plane. This was before radar. He used start charts, slide rulers, and calculus to plot their course. The man loved a slide ruler. 3
That was between the Korean and Vietnam wars, so peacetime and he describes it as being an incredible adventure. He was born in 1933. When he met my mom in the late 1960s she was a brilliant mathematician working as a main frame programmer for IBM. 4
He was thrilled that she, a WOMAN, could do advanced calculus, but had said he wouldn’t have dated her if she had had a graduate degree. Women shouldn’t go to grad school. He changed his tune by the time the 90s rolled around and I went to college. 5
The guy was a nerd’s nerd, always had a book, and took undergrad classes in history for fun in his 50s (maybe also to avoid our crazy house). Being born in 1933, the 1918 pandemic was still fresh for his parents generation. 6
He was educated before DNA was even identified as genetic material, so if all sciences he knew little about biology. But he had a keen interest in learning about 1918 and was tickled I did my PhD in virology and could talk about that with him. 7
How strange it is to be here today. At the center of all of this during the next 1918. I wish he had lived long enough to meet his grandson. He would have been over the moon in love with him. I have mixed feelings about him witnessing where I stand. 8
I’m trying to keep my head down doing what I think needs to be done and ignoring the noise. I really am doing the best I can. I hope he would’ve been proud. Happy birthday dad! The end

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