It was up in Canada in the early days of satellite communications when a thunderstorm unexpectedly formed and rolled into a place where my father-in-law—along with several other engineers—was building a large earth station.
One-by-one, they descended a ladder affixed to the earth station and sought shelter from a possible lightning strike. That is except for one worker, who overcome by fear, was unable to move, frozen to a rung halfway down the ladder.
Putting aside concern for his personal safety, my father-in-law climbed back up the ladder and calmly talked to the man until he regained his composure, and together the two climbed down.
My father-in-law, Windsor Wright—Win to his family and friends—died at the age of 94 on his birthday Oct. 31. He will be greatly missed by all of us.
Win was an electrical engineer who specialized in communications technology. He designed and develop some early satellite receive systems. He was awarded patents for a few of his inventions. Win also helped design and oversee the installation of a 10-mile long subterranean ELF antenna used by the U.S. Navy to communicate with its submarines.
I chose, however, not to focus on his engineering accomplishments in this column, but rather to lead with an anecdote from his life that might give you a snapshot of the type of man he was: Caring, courageous and always willing to give of himself to help others.
Those are admirable qualities for anyone in any profession. But for our little slice of the tech community, they seem particularly apropos. I’ve lost count of how many times I have written about broadcasters selflessly staring down one hurricane or another to keep their audience informed. Broadcasters know that on any given day they may be called upon to set aside their commercial interests and serve their communities—sometimes quite courageously.
Nor can I remember the number of items I’ve written about local stations pitching in with food drives, telethons and other efforts to help their communities, or some specific segment of their communities, when they are suffering.
My father-in-law may not have been a broadcaster. But I have seen many of the qualities he exhibited on display by broadcasters who take seriously their obligation to assist and serve and do so without fanfare or expecting a pat on the back—just like my father-in-law.
Farewell Win. Rest in peace.