Sunday, October 19, 2014

A simple tribute to my dad

My father, Bob Wagner, passed away about a week ago. He had been in good health until that point, and was an integral part of my life. We constantly hung out together whether to grab a meal, work on computer stuff, fix things around the house, or take a trip together.

In my formative years, my dad gave me the inspiration to be a real scientist or engineer. He was a top engineer at Motorola until his retirement. In my early high school days, he smuggled home a computer terminal that I used to hack into Motorola's computers and teach myself programming. Such was my introduction to what would become my chosen profession... although I try to keep the hacking to a minimum.

Even more importantly was one interchange my dad and I had underneath my 1968 Ford Torino, working on the water pump. I never brought it up, and he would never have remembered it if I did. I explained something about what I was working on, but I wasn't entirely clear and descriptive enough. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, "If you want to be an engineer, make sure you say things clearly, and describe technical situations in ways that make it easy for others to understand." Yeah, not a huge deal on the surface, but it stuck with me. I still think of that every time I start to describe an object, a problem, a situation, or a procedure.

He was a great guy, devoted to my mother and family for over 60 years. We had a celebration of his life yesterday, attended by many family members and friends. You can try to describe someone in the conventional way -- great dad, great husband, good neighbor, hard worker, close friend. Or, you can simply look at the people that surround that person, and get a really accurate idea of who he was, what he stood for, what he enjoyed doing, and what his life represented.

Looking around yesterday at all the fantastic people that came to celebrate him, it was all clear to me.