Recently Bill Jones tracked me down by e-mail and told me about Dick Cowan's excellent FSHS Class of 1958 website. It's a real service by Dick to create and maintain this website. I've been out of touch with everyone for half a century, but I've enjoyed reading about FSHS classmates. It would be a shame not to contribute to making the website complete. So here goes:
When I left FSHS I didn't have much maturity or focus. I kicked aimlessly around various schools for a while, and ended up in California working as an engineer in Sunnyvale. I got bored with this after a few years, and I wasn't getting anywhere with the job. So I went back to school again part-time, first in computer science, then in mathematics. After a leave of absence from work to write my dissertation, I finally got a math Ph.D. at UC Berkeley in algebraic topology – not very practical. I was almost 30 by then, and pretty burned out on academia.
Yes, I was at Berkeley in the Sixties, but by then I had gotten serious at last, and I missed out mostly (not entirely) on all the fun.
My engineering career became a lot more interesting after that. My academic degree was irrelevant, but it did open doors. So I had good jobs over the years, some strictly technical and some in engineering management. I took early retirement from GTE at the end of 2003 after a two-year assignment overseas, and then went to Lockheed, where I retired for good at the end of 2006.
My very best move was my marriage to Karen Laing in 1984. Karen got her M.S. in Midwifery in 1975 at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. She was in the first class of Certified Nurse Midwives in California, with Calif. License No. 18, and was the first legal midwife in Santa Cruz County. Karen was already a local hero when I met her. She retired in 2006 after 30 years of delivering babies and doing well-woman gynecology in Santa Cruz. We immediately moved from beautiful sunny Santa Cruz to beautiful rainy Olympia, Washington, to be near our infant grand-daughter Maya.
We have four children/stepchildren, and two granddaughters – Audra (15) who lives in LA, and Maya (18 months) here in Olympia.
Our hobbies (besides babysitting Maya) are native plant gardening, birdwatching, hiking and occasional travel. We're especially fond of the Khumbu region in Nepal, and have gone back several times over the years. We love higher altitudes – we always go up Kala Patar when we're in Nepal, and in 2006 we climbed Kilimanjaro. In Nov. 2007 I climbed Island Peak in Nepal, but Karen got some minor altitude sickness (HAPE) on that trip, and she didn't make the summit. We haven't done Mount Rainier here in Washington yet, but we hope to do it before age overtakes us.
One of my memories of being a nerdy kid at FSHS is of the time Bill Jones, Richard Long, Ronnie Taylor and I had a round-robin chess tournament at Bill's house. I was by far the weakest player, so they didn't bother to concentrate while playing me, and I won all my games. Even the blind squirrel sometimes finds an acorn! I must have realized that I would never win another game from any of these guys for the rest of my life, because I don't remember ever playing chess again. I know that Bill and Richard continued their interest in chess and became very accomplished players.
There were a lot of outstanding people in the class of 1958, and I wish I had known a lot of you better. I won't be able to attend the 50th reunion in October, but I hope everyone has a great time.
Gene Hall - 2008