Jon: Thanks for writing such a moving story. Your comments will be missed. Like everyone else who wrote, I had a mentor, but it was not always a soothing note of encouragement.
I was a highschool punk, but my older brother got me a job interview for an apprenticeship. When I began working, I still had many punky attitudes until one day my brother walked over to my bench. He was an ex-marine and proceeded to rip me up one side and down the other with a tenacity that would make a drill sargeant proud. Mostly it was about my attitude on the job, but he also demanded to know where was my pride in craftsmanship. Just like the teacher who flunked you, Jon, it was an incredible wakeup call. I remember him telling me how I was no longer just representing myself, but now also represented him and the whole tool & die industry.
Ever since I have tried to carry myself in a manner that will reflect postively on my family, my coworkers and my trade. I think of my late brother every day and just how much I owe him. He did not live long enough to retire so I head into my retirement in 9 days with mixed emotions. How have I been so lucky while he was so starcrossed?
We have some things in common. I am also about to retire after 41 years as an engineer. I also have been married for 43 years. 1970 was a good year. I wish you well in all your future endeavors.
I am excited about my retirement and at the same time scared. It is a big change and I wonder how well I will adapt. I have worked for 5 companies in 5 different industries. No plans to return to work, even part time, unless I get bored.
Since the subject is mentors, I think it's fair to bring up Jon's pioneering construction of the Mark-8 Minicomputer (now on display at the Smithsonian Institition), which inspired countless engineers and computer enthusiasts of the time. Read about it here:
Best of luck, Jon. Although I never had the good fortune to work directly for you, I always knew of your tremendous reputation around our company. You yourself were a mentor to many. Enjoy your retirement!
I just went to my mentor's funeral last week - Larry Dews 1942-2013 - he was only 71. In 1978 when I was 13 I worked for him in a Clock shop. I was 15 when my dad died and Larry became a mentor to me over the years.
He worked as a chemical engineer for many many years and had a business on the side fixing clocks. As a kid I was clumsy and foolish and probably cost him more money than I ever helped him make - but he made a point of saying to me "Jack , you can do Anything!" And I believed him because HE had such strong faith in me. And I did some amazing things back then that I'm not sure I'd tackle now.
A few years ago I read a devotional that talked about mentors and realized I had never properly thnaked him as an adult- so I searched him out and had a grand visit and talked of old times. I was shocked to hear of his passing, but glad I had taken the time to say "Thanks" for his care and kindness.
At his funeral his entire career as an Engineer was summed up in one sentence....because his mentorship and care for others around him was what people talked about. His availability and willingness to share, encourage, teach and explain to those around him regardless of their position or social staus - THAT is what people talked about and THAT to me was the mark of GREAT man and a great Engineer. While he may have had a patent or two , his greatest contribution to the world was passing on his engineering passion to another generation of engineers.
I should tell Ms. Maurine Failey, my 10th-grade geometry teacher, how much I appreciate her giving me a failing grade in geometry. It was a wake-up-call. I took geometry during summer school, studied hard, and aced the NY Regents exam. That summer-school experience gave me new respect for math and its importance. If I had squeaked through Ms. Failey's class, my career would have taken a different and not-so-good path. Thanks, Mrs. F.
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