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Letter: For his wife, and for a teacher

I graduated from a Catholic school in Plaquemine, Louisiana, in 1956, in a much different time than today. World War II had ended and our economy was booming, but most people were much poorer than we are today. Only about 10 percent of high school graduates started college. They were mostly from wealthy families. Graduates from blue collar workers’ families like mine expected to get a job, get married, raise a family and spend the rest of their lives in their hometown.

Fortunately, Mr. Tony Fama, my chemistry teacher, saw a potential in me that I never thought I had. After graduating, I worked in a machine shop with my father when he convinced my family that I should go to college. After graduating in 1961 with a chemical engineering degree, I worked on solid fuel for missiles and rockets until 1993 at the Naval Facility in Indian Head, Maryland.

I met and married my wife, Joyce, in 1967. Religion wasn’t a part of my life since my late teens, but I went to church, mostly ...

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