ringdance   usna
  willyr

 

Personal Background Information  

I grew up in the Detroit area and graduated from Royal Oak Kimball High School. Next, I went on to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, also known as "Canoe U". I studied Mechanical Engineering there and became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.

Six days after throwing my hat in the air getting out of that place, I married the former MaryLynn Gresham, who had just graduated from nearby Marymount College in Arlington Virginia, where she was a nursing student. I then attended Nuclear Power Training and served aboard the USS Will Rogers (SSBN 659). If any of you are interested in the submarine service, or nuclear power in general, let me know and I can tell you some stories and / or answer your questions (unclassified only, of course!).

My last two years on active duty were spent as an instructor, training students in running the S1W prototype plant in Idaho Falls, Idaho, which was the Navy's prototype for the USS Nautilus (SSN 571), the world's first nuclear powered ship. It was in this instructor position that I confirmed earlier hunches that I had a desire to go into the teaching business.

Before attending graduate school, I worked in the facilities design area at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base near Marquette in the Upper Peninsula. I did the same type of work for the Michigan State University Physical Plant as well, designing construction projects, mostly having to to with heating, ventilating and air conditioning.

Following graduate school, I stuck around the Michigan State University Department of Mechanical Engineering for six years as a temporary instructor while our boys finished high school, prior to joining the faculty at VMI.

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Family  

During my graduate training, my wife attended medical school and is now a physician working in a private practice in Fishersville. Over the years, we accumulated a few offspring, namely 4 boys (and now two daughters-in-law) as can be seen in the family photo. On the left is Robert (the fifth - believe it or not) a graduate of Central Missouri State University, who is teaching English in Romania with his wife, Amanda, who is next to him in the photo. Amanda is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Richmond. The bride and groom in the middle are David and Teresa, who are University of Michigan and St. Mary's College graduates, respectively, working for Thompson-Reuters' financial sector in Chicago. The other two guys are Charlie and Luke who are still hanging out back in in Lansing Michigan.

As you can tell by the picture, my wife and I do not have the genetic diversity required to have produced all of these guys; three of them were adopted from Korea. Charlie came as an eight-month-old baby and David and Luke came together as genetic brothers at ages 5 and 3, respectively. Our oldest son, Robert, however, "came to the world in the usual way" as Harry Chapin would say. Fortunately they're all basically law-abiding young men.

 

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Outdoor Activities  

I've always been involved with backpacking, running, cross-country skiing, etc. Back in the 90s, I completed two marathons and then decided that running 26 miles gave a body too much of a beating. So I started to get more involved with lower impact sports like Triathlon and cross-country skiing. You still get two or three hours' worth of aerobic agony out of the deal, so you get your money's worth, but without all of the pounding. Since then I've been in 20 triathlons and 20 cross-country ski marathons but, after a ruptured disc in my back, I've had to all but stop running. I still do the bike, swim and ski stuff though. I have also continued with some of those activities as the advisor for the Outdoor Adventure Club at VMI.



Spiritual Issues  

I grew up going to church every week, but I never really learned much there. By the time I graduated from the Academy and completed Nuclear Power Training, I still had pretty fuzzy ideas about who God was, or whether there even was one. During my time in Submarine School, we lived in married officer's housing on the submarine base in Groton Connecticut, as did quite a few of my classmates from the Academy. Some of them invited my wife and I to a Bible study at the home of a fellow USNA alumnus on base. I decided to go along because we didn't have much better to do and there wasn't much homework in Submarine School. It was there that I saw a big difference between the way these guys approached life and my approach. They read the Bible on a regular basis individually and worked hard at applying it to their lives. I decided that I was on the wrong side of the fence and that it was up to me to make a change.

Since that time, I've learned that I can trust God and that He is trustworthy. He never does things to torment His children, but only to help them and to bring them closer to Himself. I can't imagine where I'd be now if it hadn't been for that sequence of events back at the submarine base. Certainly there are doubts that come along, as there are for anyone, regardless of what you believe in. For me though, one thing that always comes to mind is that, I can't look at another person and say that he got there by accident. The constant tendency in this world toward randomness, decay, and disorder, as described in part by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, makes the odds of us getting here by accident effectively nil. I guess I can say, then, that one of the biggest reasons I believe in God is that I can't swallow the theory of evolution. Afterall, theories are lower on the scientific food chain than natural laws. If any of this has caught your attention, I'm always happy to talk about whatever aspects of these issues may be of interest to you and I like to hear your views too. Just come by my office or maybe send me an e-mail memo sometime. I look forward to talking with you.