16 February 2007


KMW 100

Kenneth M. WilsonHad he lived, my dad would've been 100 years old today. I was 17 when he died in 1974 and had spent most of that and the previous five years away at boarding schools, so we weren't particularly close. He wasn't the kind of father you were buds with, anyway.

But he loved my mom and my brothers and me very much. He was a high achiever. He took the knowledge he had of government contracting in the garment industry from his years of being an inspector and leveraged that into a successful career as a manufacturer of same garments: raincoats and ponchos for the military. He was, perhaps, the smartest man with numbers I have ever met, and I have met a few serious big brain types in my day. The calculations he could do in his head and on a yellow legal pad were impressive.

I wrote at the old blog—the archives seem gone now—about how he got involved in a golf resort development here in central Florida. I'm not particularly fond of the degree to which we tear down scrub and put up housing developments, but I will give him and his friend George Phelps the credit for being ahead of their time. I appreciate now that the will to build something that wasn't there before is more widespread and historically common than I had appreciated before, but still, I recall sleeping in a crappy little trailer office in the palmetto scrub where now there are homes and condos and golf courses.

He also had a love of flight and of being involved with people who loved flight. He never got his own pilot's license, but he was a partner in several airplane deals. It gave me an early opportunity to go up with pilots. I'm at a holding point myself, but when the schedule opens up a bit, I'm getting my pilots license, something I wanted to do way back then. Maybe the best dreams are the old dreams.

I don't know what his best old dreams were. Maybe all parents live somewhat vicariously through their kids. He died just a few days after I found out I'd gotten accepted to M.I.T., and I know that made him happy. But I only saw him in the hospital after the day we got that news, and then he was gone.

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Very nice piece about your dad.

I'm finding out that many of the old dreams are the best, for me anyway.

Nice, too, that he knew you'd gotten into M.I.T. before he left.
Thanks for the piece about KM.I'm so glad that you do this from time to time. It keeps me in touch with a very good time for me. I wouldn't trade my growing up with anyone else the planet! Living with the old man was an experience I would never give up for anything! Life was exciting with KMW.
I decided to leave out the exciting parts. There were too many. Like any time you got in the car with him!
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