My family history in New Orleans dates back to 1838 when Joseph Sheppard emigrated from Northern Ireland. So I have lots of family in Louisiana. When I went to college in Louisiana, I got my degree programming on a Honeywell Multics computer. In May of 1981 when I graduated from college and decided to go work for Honeywell in Phoenix, it was a big deal. Everyone throughout our family history lived or still lived in Louisiana. When I got to Phoenix, I knew absolutely no one, and I mean no one, except my college roommate (Tm Barrios) who, as luck would have it, had accepted a job working at GTE, also in Phoenix.
So here I was fresh out of college in a city where I knew almost no one. My teammates at work happened to be older. I was 22 yet the next youngest person in my group was 50. Tim worked at GTE with people his own age. As a result, Tim's friends became my friends. Tim's chief programmer was a guy named Eric Wagner. Eventually the three of us became fast friends. We did all kinds of things together, and are still friends to this day.
Sadly Eric's dad (Bob Wagner) recently passed away. Here we are in 1999 when the Wagners and Sheppards took a joint family vacation to Hawaii.
Bob was like a virtual grandfather to our children, Stephanie and Steven. With our natural relatives so far away, our children were still able to benefit from the kindness and caring that comes from someone who has had a full life and the wisdom that experience brings. Bob was like having an extra grandfather. On Saturday we will celebrate the life of Bob Wagner.
"The one that showed me kindness
Was the one that taught me kindness
Though I did not recognize it
Still I might have died without it
And when I awakened
It was too late to thank him
If I live someday I'll make repayment
And show someone the kindness he showed me"
— Todd Rundgren, (Eric and I watched this song get recorded at the Palace of Fine Arts in 1990)
Memories of Bob are alive in the lab.