Welcome to my own personal Hall of Fame

The people listed below are those in my life that have, for one reason or the other, been of a profound and dramatic influence on me. Most of that influence is of a positive nature, a few of them proved to be a negative influence. But whether good or bad, each of them touched my life in a special way, provided a roadmap to my own future path through this 'Infinite Voyage' of mine, and without their guidance, be it intentional or accidental, my own life would not have been quite as rich as it now is.

These people below are special: They were the signposts on my journey and I will remember them, always...

Charles Stadig :   Here is a man who had many strikes against him, both social, emotional, mental, and physical. Yet through it all, he amazed me at his incredible ability to not lose hope, to keep moving forward. Though many moved against him, he always found his place amongst them. He was a stabilizing influence in our family, often standing between divided factions and bringing them together. He looked at his own soul and oft found it wanting, yet because of that, he was more readily able to forgive the transgressions of others and treat them like equals.

Charles Stadig taught me

Earl Wild, Sr :   This man was a huge bear of a man; gruff and loud in his appearance, rough around the edges and as sharp as a razor. Yet when, during my early years, he saw me as an outcast amongst my own family and neighbors; a young boy growing up without parental guidance, he took me under his wing and became a dear friend. He got me involved in sports and would purposely take the opposing position from mine, during discussions: fostering arguments that would seem hostile at first, but were actually designed to give me the opportunity to do something I rarely had the chance to do, at home: Express my own thoughts and opinions. This man, though boisterous and gruff on the outside, possessed the largest, most caring heart of any man I have ever met: He was, truly, a second Father to me.

Earl Wild, Sr taught me

George G. Irish, III :   I only knew this young man as a teenager for a couple of years: He was a man who dated my older sister when I was young. She dated many men, both before and after George, but he stood out from the others immediately. When he saw the abusive state that my brothers and I found ourselves in, and noticed how we were often pushed aside and ignored even when times were good, he took us under his wing. He was our first adult friend; our first confidant. He went out of his way to involve himself in our activities, even though some of them must have seemed woefully beneath him, at the time. He took part in our adventures, helped us write our stories, craft our plays, listen to our complaints, share in our joys and, all too often, shoulder some of our burdens. There was no logic, reason, or motivation to his compassion; He gave it to us freely at a time in our young lives when no other adult would.

George Irish, III taught me

Curtis Stadig :   I've spent the better part of the last four decades desperately trying to discern some good, noble, or redeeming quality that I could pin to this man, my biological father. Let's not mince words: He was a MONSTER in every sense of the word. He was vain, pretentious, self-absorbed, judgmental, cruel, and physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive. Yet when he was out in public, he was also a master 'chameleon'; a person who could appear saintly in church, jovial at a social function, determined at a public meeting. He would preach the love of god to all who would listen in public, and then thrash his children to within an inch of their lives once home, and usually for no good reason. I learned VERY early on, from this wicked man, that appearances in most, if not all adults, was misleading; that the truth in any person had to be discerned with careful, studious observation and examination. He had a huge impact in the success of my life: Whenever I am faced with a difficult choice now, I sit back and ask myself 'What would DAD have done?"

Then, I take the exact OPPOSITE path...

Curtis Stadig taught me

Denise Walker :   Oh, how I loved and adored this young lady, and now, some thirty-six years later, still do! She was my first sweetheart, my first Love. I met her quite by accident while performing for the high school marching band. We became instant friends and, soon after, a romantic couple. She was a huge part of my life, for three years, and during a period when all I had ever known was violence, deceipt, anger, mistrust, and suspicion. She was a gentle soul, with a warm considerate nature and a delightful sense of humor. She showed me, during those incredible years, more gentleness, tenderness, and compassion than I had ever seen from my own family. She loved to garden, and tend to flowers: I would sit with her in her greenhouse and gladly watch her tend to her plants for hours, with that same gentle touch, that same loving empathy that she always showed to me. Denise was the first person I ever knew who was not corrupted to the core with the never-ending darkness that I had grown so accustomed to seeing in other people, back then. I will always be in her debt, for that one consideration alone, and to this day, she has a very special place in the temple of my soul...

Denise Walker taught me

Joseph Broulle :   This middle-aged Italian man was small, wiry, and possessed the darkest, most probing, most suspicious eyes I had ever seen when I first met him. He managed a local grocery store in my hometown; I met him while applying for a part-time, after-school job, as a stock boy. "You bring nothing to THIS table, kid" he told me, frowning. "I'll have to teach you how to do everything. You're sickly, you're wearing crappy clothes; clothes that shouldn't be seen by my customers! Why should I hire you?" he asked me. Yet, hire me, he did, and for the next three years, he patiently taught me what I needed to know. A man of few words, he pushed me, in those early days, to excel at everything he taught me. "If you want something bad enough to see it, then you can have it", he said to me once. Patient to a fault and stern but considerate in his correction, he was the second adult, after Earl Wild, Sr, that I came to respect, admire, and emulate. Years later, when I decided to get out of the never-ending mill work and train myself in software development, it was the memory of his guidance, to a degree, that spurred me to take that risk and take the leap into a whole new career.

Joseph Broulle taught me

Thom Preece :   All my life, as a child, I had been taught to conform to the expectations and beliefs of others, no matter the cost. Everyone else in my life was right, and I was always wrong. I had no right to determine my own path, beliefs, or opinions: I only had the right to assume what I was given by others.

Then, one wierd day in the beginning year of high school, I met this tiny, scrawny, scraggly young lad. He had nearly pure white hair, bulging eyes, crooked teeth, and the thinnest, knobbiest legs I've ever seen on a guy! He was haughty, as well: loud in public, outspoken, arrogant, and opinionated! We were, it turned out soon after, cast from very similar molds: we were both castaways on the 'Island of Misfit Toys', in a manner of speaking. He was my first real friend, during my teenage years, and for the next 15 years or so, we were damn near inseperable. He was my second in nearly every project, whether profound or illicit, and I learned a lot from associating with this man. He was almost habitually devoted to disagreement, but not in an evil or ill-intentional way. He simply loved to purposely go against the grain of the people around him: It was his way of 'cutting through the crap', as he often told me. He questioned EVERYTHING and took great delight in uncovering the flaws, cracks, and pockmarks in the belief and logic of others.

Quite by accident, he instilled in me, over the years, a marvelous and wonderful ability, near super-human in its application, if used wisely: He was the creator and installer of my own internal 'bullshit' alarms and, without even knowing it, he has enriched my life many times over, since those early days!

Thom Preece taught me the benefit of

George Viveiros :   If life were a TV crime drama, then this man, a friend of mine during my early adult years, was the epitome of the 'Hapless Victim'! I've never known anyone who had to stand against such adversity than him. Yet through it all, he was adamant in his beliefs, firm to his convictions, and determined in his pursuits, even when some of those pursuits, due to his own personal faults, were near impossible to achieve. If he was your friend, then he was ALWAYS your friend, no matter the circumstances. He was like a human wolverine, scratching and clawing to the end. I never knew him to quit anything, in all our time together, even when he, time after time, became the 'last man standing' on a cause. I will always remember that about him and I have strived to copy that tendancy as much as possible, in my own dealings since then.

George Viveiros taught me

Shyamal Ganguly :   At the risk of angering this man and his family, I must confess: I always saw him as a bit of a shyster and a con-man! Yet he was incredibly gifted with the ability to spot, seize and take advantage of even the slightest opportunity that came across his path. He literally could squeeze an onion and fill a pint bottle with blood, while a horde of hungry vampires gathered around him! He was my first employer in the software development industry and, even then, he made me work for two months for no pay at all, since I did not have a college diploma. He was industry respected, at the time, and well published. Though he never, as far as I know, attained the ranks of a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates, he took a small company operating out of his garage and turned it into a leading provider of School, Educational, and Materials Resource software in our area. By example, he showed me that my own advancement, no matter what the pursuit, was simply a matter of watching for the right doors to opening and leaping through them, no matter the risk, cost or effort.

Shyamal Ganguly taught me to take advantage of

Barbara Schwartz :   I once had the pleasure of listening to this wonderful woman laugh for fourteen years. We were co-workers at a software development company: I wrote the software; she performed Quality Control testing on our efforts. As many can attest, software development can be a very stressful industry, but this lady always found a way to take just a bit of the edge off of it with her laughter. When something struck her funny, you could hear her laugh from clear across town: it was hearty, addicting stuff! Her eyes would glisten, she'd double over at times, and then that laughter would pour out like a flood.

She had a knack for lifting people up with her merriment; especially when times were tough. Truly a gift of the gods, this woman's knack for putting people at ease was a wonderful thing. Just the memory of her smile, her joy, has helped me to walk away from confrontation and find solace in the lighter moments of life. The best way to solve a difficult situation is to not take it too seriously, and to find the humor in it. This delightful woman knew that very well.

Barbara Schwartz taught me the value of

Thomas Courtemanche :   It took me a bit, when I first met this fellow software developer, to get to know him. He and I were completely opposites, in a lot of ways: He was always dressed to the 'nines', at work: suit, jacket, tie, nice shoes. I, however, was a lot more casual; almost decrepit at times. But the both of us were smokers, so we got to know each other pretty quickly, and I'm glad we did. For seven plus years, we were good friends. Thomas had the uncanny ability (which I lacked) to endear himself to nearly anyone, whether coworker or upper management. He has a great sense of humor, and could speak knowledgeably on a variety of topics.

But more than that, he was someone who saw the value of his friends and associates. He was probably one of the best all-around programmers I've ever known, but when the keyboard was pushed aside, one couldn't ask for a more noble, more loyal friend. Time and time again, he would give of himself, if a need existed. He would listen, too: a rare art, at times, in my industry. He would stand side by side with you, in a fight, or tear you completely apart, albeit in jest, if you made the mistake of taking yourself too seriously. It was the nature of this man that did more to drag me out of my decades long shell of isolation, to dare to risk knowing people again. He was, is, and always shall be one of my treasured contacts in life.

Thomas Courtemanche taught me the value of

Marcia Chabert :   I never met this wonderful woman, and I never will. However, for three plus years, we were fast friends, partners, and companions in the virtual world of 'Second Life'. It was a wonderful, exhilirating, and occassionally a nerve-wracking journey, let me tell you! Marcia is a sweet, beautiful, innocent, delightful, and incredibly fun woman, and this period was, without a doubt, one of the happiest of my life!

She had a darker side, though: One that taught me much in that period. Marcia had a tendancy to vacilate between extremes; from periods of intense happiness to abject sorrow. She would walk left for two days in a row, then immediately switch to the right-hand path on a moment's notice, for often unknown reasons. She would condemn you for a choice on one day, then praise you the next day for the very same choice. Yet through all that, the glorious spirit of hers would continue to shine through and draw you in, like a moth to the flame. She had this knack of attracting people to her cause, to her events, to her efforts, that truly amazed me.

When I first met her, she was a timid little waif, frightened of her own shadow. In three years time with her, she blossomed like a rose in the desert, becoming more independant, more capable, more enduring with each passing day. But dealing with the mood swings, the fear of her own future, and the occassional bouts with self-doubt, was tough to take. She was worth the effort, by all means. In the end, these down periods did me much good: I learned to shrug off many of the negatives and see past them, holding on to the glimpse of that beautiful soul buried so deep within her.

Sadly, our friendship has recently come to an end. Our paths through these 'Infinite Voyages' parted ways forever. In the end, she was from a different Culture, a different land, with goals, ambitions, methods, and intentions vastly divorced and removed from my own. The loss of our relationship saddens me still, but it does not and cannot tarnish the wonderful lesson she taught me, during those three years. Sometimes even the most perplexing, confusing, and difficult situation can be simply a mask for a delicate, beautiful, joyful moment buried deep within.

I can say this with a free conscience, now: I adored this woman. I adore her now. I will adore her forever...

Marcia Chabert taught me

Ann Marie Stadig :   I never truly knew what Love was until I was fortunate enough to meet this incredible young woman. Sure, I had heard the word often enough. Jesus loved me (just keep that smelly goat-herder up in the balcony, please). My parents loved me (Hold still while I whip you, boy, or you'll force me to whip you harder).

Then came my sweet Annaree! Her love was a powerful, all-consuming one, and one that came often as a struggle more than a release. She fought for her siblings when everyone else would ignore their needs. She fought for her dignity when even her own relatives took undue advantage of her. She fought for her independance when others went out of the way to keep her locked safely away at home, to tend to the needs and frivolous whims of her elders..

She fought for our love and our marriage, when everyone else stood like a wall in front of her to prevent it. She fought for her children, when they were ill and neither of us, being so incredibly young, really quite understood how to keep them happy and meet their needs. She braved the tempest in our own house, the confusion of opposing neighbors and relatives, and the storm of seperation, for a brief period, when our families succeeded in pulling us apart.

She worked to build a home, provide additional income, heal her children, and build an inseperable bond between the two of us, when it seemed like the entire universe stood against us. She is completely and totally different from me, in every way, yet even that apparent obstacle, she turned to our advantage. She learned to 'fit' me in such a delightful way; providing the strengths and disciplines I lacked and taking from me the properties she did not possess herself. I've said this before, and it bears repeating: she became the 'Yin' to my 'Yang', the other half of my soul. Without her, I am incomplete, half a man, and woefully, forever undone.

Ann Marie has taught me that love, TRUE love, is based on common goals, common respect, common trust, and mutual sacrifice. She has learned, with me, a hard lesson, and one that most people sadly will never grasp: that a true loving relationship, such a powerful, wonderful thing, can only be possible when TWO become ONE: When Her needs and My needs vanish, to be replaced by OUR need. She taught me that I am her and she is me: We are forever One. Without that Union, everything else becomes a mere convenience, not Love.

We have been both poor and well-to-do. We have endured both ill and good health. We've been alone and yet surrounded by friends. But through it all, I have come to know this one thing, and know it well: Though we are in a mansion on a hill, or under a bridge in a cardboard box, this incredible woman LOVES me, and I her, and nothing on this rotten earth can ever drive us apart...

Ann Marie has taught me the meaning and power of