Proud Fellow

September 11, 2008
By
Late one afternoon at IBM’s research and development building, in Endwell, NY, Joe had just finished what may have been his greatest invention. What may have seemed impossible at the time was deemed a success. The Hummingbird, a minuscule motor able to scan a silicon chip thousands of times a second, may have taken years to produce, but was successful with Joe's hard work and dedication. Hard work and dedication, those alone may have made Joe a hero in some eyes, but he went above and beyond, sweeping plenty of other heroic traits under his belt.

Joseph was born in a small mining town along the German Boarder. Not with any wealthy family, or famous family, just a normal Polish Family back in 1939. The normal family is not to say that he was not successful in life. His life was changed for him when he was conscripted into the German Navy. He had no choice, he was forced to give up his life and serve for Nazi Germany. Joe quickly volunteered as an apprentice electrician at Mussolini’s Air Force Base. This quick witted decision certainly changed his life for eternity. After the war, Joe longed for an education after being pulled from high school. He longed for an education in all he knew after the war electrical engineering.

“You never know until you try,” as Joe used to say. And he was entirely correct. That is exactly what he was forced to do, try and hope. Hope to succeed after coming to America and attending Stevens Institute of Technology. Astoundingly, after six years, Joe graduated from Stevens Institute. “God gave you a brain, use it,” Joe used to say. And he certainly used his. He now fulfilled a life long dream, the education he always wanted.

After graduating from college, Joe set out to find a job, eventually landing one at IBM, a computer company. “His best quality was his work ethic,” Mari Ransdell, Joe’s daughter says. And his work ethic shines on. After working his way up the ladder of success, Joe had finally proven himself to the world. He finally had what was said to be his “greatest accomplishment” by his daughter. After 26 inventions and 45 patents, Joe had been awarded the IBM Fellowship award. Only two of these are announced each year, worldwide, and give the fellow four years with limitless resources to develop products. He had finally been given the highest award given to an IBM employee worldwide. He had fulfilled his dreams. Though his dreams came true, “He still had quite a bit to offer,” says his daughter.

After his success with IBM, Joe retired and lived four more years in Endicott, NY. Afterwards, he moved closer to his daughter in Indiana for support and retirement. His daughter, Mari thinks he had a nice move to Indiana after spending his lifetime oversees and in New York; she says he thinks “Indiana is a great place with warm and welcoming people.” Today he is said to take pleasure in “Being with his wife after 55 years, sitting out on their porch watching the world go by, and enjoying life as much as possible.” forlornly, Joe’s success came to a halting stop. As Alzheimer’s disease tears away at Joe’s memory, he forgets his success as a proud IBM fellow, a loving family member, and a true American hero. Joe still lives in Indiana with his family, but has a troublesome time remembering his success with his life and IBM.

Joe is heroic for many reasons, some of which had to do with his business triumph, and some had to do with his personal life. Joe waited many years for his success, waited and worked for hours a day. Similarly to how Odysseus waited and worked for his freedom from the dreadful Calypso’s cave in the famous novel The Odyssey. He didn’t ever give up; he had something in his mind and stuck to it.
Joe also was loyal to his wife for over 55 years. Another great trait of a hero and another reason Joe is such a great all around person. Penelope waiting for Odysseus to return in the Odyssey is just like Joe being with his wife for 55 loving years. Both Joe and Penelope know how hard it is to change with loved ones, to stay true to them for many years. But both these people proved to be hero’s in some way, shape, or form.
Joe was successful, a great treat for a hero to have, not only successful, but success in a life long goal. He never gave up, through the hard times and the easy times, he stuck to the plan and finished what he had to do. A goal he worked for, for years and accomplished with flying colors. Odysseus in the Odyssey must also know how this feels, this epic hero had to dismiss the suitors from his wife and reclaim his thrown as king of Ithaca.
Every hero has his kryptonite, and Joe is no different. He was diagnosed with a horrible disease. It is a disease that accumulates over time, in turn erasing nearly all memory from its victim. Joe is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease and has very little short term memory and gets his long term memory mixed up. Odysseus, the great king of Ithaca, also had some character flaws. He was selfish, a horrible thing to be when you are in charge of so many peoples lives. But the great hero fought through his flaws and finished victoriously, much how my grandfather did back at IBM, so many years ago.

Joe is considered among many in his family to be a hero. He is defiantly a hero in my eyes. Maybe even some outside his family. No matter what happens in my lifetime, I have learned something from this heroic man. We can learn that no matter what life puts in your way, you can overcome it; you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Joe has proved this in his lifetime, and we can all take away something from this heroic figure. This person, who has overcome many of life’s challenges and succeeded in his own life, has showed us that it is possible to follow your dreams. Joe is a hero.





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randy36 said...
Sept. 16, 2008 at 7:22 pm
What a GREAT essay.
 
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