Here I am with my dad Arnold, my mother Frances and my sister Paula.
My dad grew up on a farm in Michigan. After he graduated from Michigan State,
he was hired by the State of Texas to come to Wheeler and make a detailed survey
of the rivers and soils in that area. My dad drove back to Michigan in 1930, married
my mother and they both returned to Wheeler where I was born in 1932.
As far back as I can remember, my dad was a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As a result, he was sent to study a number of rivers in Texas to help determine the best
places to build dams for flood control. Because of this, our family moved every few
years. We lived in Fort Worth, Brownwood, Temple and then back to Fort Worth. We lived
in Fort Worth from the time I was in junior high until I left to attend the
University of Texas on a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corp (NROTC) scholarship in 1950.
My sister Paula was two years younger than me and she and my dad were the athletes
and the smart ones in the family.
I realize now how lucky I was to grow up in a loving family. My mother and father
did everything they could to keep Paula and me safe and help us to grow into good
I love this picture of my mother and me. I think it shows the beauty and intensity
of my mother and that I was a happy guy right from the get-go.
My mother was easily the most influential person in my life. Some of this was because
my dad traveled with his work and he was in the Army all during World War II, but
mostly because of the loving and overprotective woman she was. She wanted me to
learn how to do everything that I would need to survive and prosper when I grew up. She
believed in hard work and reliability. As a result, I always had more chores to do
around our home than all of my other friends had to do around their homes, combined.
For example, I had to cook my breakfast, mop the kitchen once or twice a week,
iron and mend my clothes and a whole bunch of other things I don't even want to
remember. And I better do them right or I would have to do them all over again.
I did not like any of these at all at the time, but I believe she helped me be the happy,
energetic and industrious person I am today.
I had won a NROTC scholarship when I was a senior in high school. This scholarship
allowed me to attend the University of Texas that my family would not have been able
to afford otherwise. My goal in life, every since I was about 10 years old, was to
become a Navy pilot, so I majored in Aeronautical Engineering because I though this
would make me a better pilot.
Attending the University of Texas changed my life primarily because I was now surrounded
by other students who were willing to study and sacrifice to achieve a good education.
I joined the wrestling team because my dad had been a very good wrestler at Michigan State.
It turned out I was also a better-than-average wrestler but I really wanted to be a gymnastist
and diver. I was never very good at either of those but I did work out in the gym an hour or two
trying to get better almost every single day.
The University changed me in another way. I began to understand one of the most just laws of life:
“If a person will give their best efforts every day, planning and working towards
their dreams, in a surprisingly short time they will notice that they have actually moved
in that direction. They will see they are becoming more of the person that they need
to be to accomplish their dreams.”
Even at age 85, I still plan and work in the direction of my dreams every single day.
Next: Naval Aviator