For many of us, there is a moment that resonates in its influence as we travel down life’s path. In my case, it was the fall of 1968, the start of my junior year at Hubbard High School on Chicago’s south side. I had just left my first class in Chemistry, where the initial assignment was to memorize the entire periodic table by the following week. “Not going to happen” was my reaction, and in a panic, I looked to find another class that would satisfy the science requirement.
A teacher from my previous year, Dan Kiebles, suggested taking his class – computer programming. It couldn’t be worse than my current situation, I thought, so I transferred. I learned to program in Fortran, keying in the code and then waiting for the results. I loved it.
After graduating high school, per Dan’s recommendation, I went to Southern Illinois University and completed an Associate Degree in computer programming in 1971. Scanning the newspaper “want ads,” I found a job as a computer programmer for a small insurance company a block from Union Station in downtown Chicago. From there, I enjoyed a gratifying career in Information Technology until 2015, when I retired.
Was this luck? Was Dan Kiebles in the right place at the right time to help a desperate 16-year-old? In part, yes. However, as we kept in contact over the years, I came to know a man who cared about his students and those in his circle of influence, always ready to provide guidance and support. As British theologian Charles Spurgeon writes. “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”
P.S. - A picture from my 1976 wedding reception.