50 years

Since last July, when the planned 50th reunion celebration for the Vicksburg High School class of 1970 got nixed because COVID, I’ve been setting up Zoom meetings for those classmates of mine with an e-mail address. Initially, I found only 60 or so of those out of our class of 169, but we’d had several meet ups where a small fraction of those showed up and had a pretty good time. Once you get over the shock of who all those old people might be, as you get to talking the bonds reform. Today I was working to set one up for next week, as it had been since well before Christmas that we’ve Zoomed. I’ve found over the last couple months that many of the folks without a single email address actually have many, at least on my InstantCheckmate search. Firing off an email to a batch can return the one that works and off you go. One connection I made was with Jo Ann Martens Cousins in Jupiter Florida, one of the brighter and livelier members of our class. I was happy when she responded and she’ll surely light up the Zoom screen. She asked me for contact information on a couple class members, which I supplied, then asked the following. I’d already sent her a current picture of me so she wouldn’t be too shocked when she logged on for the Zoom. She asked:

So what have you been doing these last 50 years…catch me up … would love to get  caught up… where are you…family…job  or retired?? 

I answered:

About Jr yr @ U of M figured I had to do something productive, had always done well in science, so aimed for med school.  got the folks off my back.  had a year to kill before possible med school, so got a masters in microbiology.  did research in virology and dabbled in it again in med school and post-doc.  Knowing that lingo has served me well this past year.  Only school I got into was University of Chicago, a good one.  Hard slog, but matched to another good place (Barnes Hospital, St.Louis) for internal medicine.  Came back to AA – the only program that would have me – for Rheumatology.  An endless game of clue as my wife observed.  Met her as a collaborator on a virology project.   Married 10/4/86 (remember Maxwell Smart?).  No kids despite trying.  Still living in the first house I bought in ’85, now at last paid for.  Hired on to faculty after my post-doc, got tenured ’94 so I got to stay.  Kathy finally got PhD 4 years after we married, did a couple post-docs, hired on to the U as a research scientist.  Adapted some of her research to effects of spaceflight.  NASA noticed and hired her as one of their senior scientists ’88, responsible for the space station first 2 years then human space flight next 2.  Worked and lived in DC.  Not fun for me except when I went to visit.  She applied to astronaut corps and made first cut but stopped there.  Dad came to AA regularly for football games (Kathy brought great 50 yard line season tickets that had been in her family since ’64) and we had great times.  He died March ’03 after 9 years with metastatic colon cancer.  My Aunt Dorie, sister of my mom who died when I was 10, died later that year.  In ’09, I successfully looked up my birth parents and went from being an orphaned only child to one with 2 living parents and 10 half-brothers and sisters (3/7).  Birth father, who played football at MSU for Biggie Munn, died ’15 and one of his daughters passed from non-smokers’ lung cancer 2 years ago.  Fortunately, we all get along and no one has asked me for money.

I never made “fool” professor, retiring as associate professor 6/30/19.  Retirement is great.  So many things you don’t or can’t do while working, or maybe never even thought of.   There’s not enough time in the day to do all the things I’d like to do now.  Now I know why old people get up so early.  Kathy has taught scientific writing in her old school (Kinesiology) for the last 11 years and counting.  She loves it, but didn’t like having to go virtual, even though it kept her at home in the living room with me.  She says she’s hanging it up after this term, but I have my doubts.  She loves those kids too much.  This term she’s back to getting to teach mostly in person.  And someone bringing in a paycheck is nice.  We already travel a lot, even in the face of COVID.  Eric Durham’s still my best friend, but his grandkids get most of his attention.  I’ve been keeping in touch with some of the old VHS gang for quite a while.  Best friends I ever had.  About a year ago, I took on a project that has me going to the ‘burg periodically for more than just frivolous reasons.  Early into it, I got to interacting with Sue Moore, Meredith Clark’s daughter, who got so interested in what I was doing wrote me up for her South County News, successor to the Commercial.  I’ve attached her story.  Sadly, she died a month later.

Well, that’s probably enough news from Lake Wobegon for now.  If you want more of my words, you can check out my blog http://www.theviewfromharbal.com.  I’ve loaded a bunch of pictures onto my classmates.com page https://www.classmates.com/siteui/people/robert-ike/5513161.

Thanks for asking.

See you next week


Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

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