Today's Featured Biography
Born in late September 1943, I first saw Vacaville in 1949 at the age of six. It was evening and as we topped what is now called "Hamburger Hill" (higher then), I could see the lights of the tiny burg of 3500 souls winking below.
Mary and Myself Again
My family and I came to Vacaville, because my father was in the Air Force. He was a captain assigned to the staff of General Robert Falligant Travis. The General died a little later in a plane crash on takeoff in a plane bearing all or part (reports differ) of a nuclear weapon.
Fire Chief Warren Hughes, father of Barbara Hughes our classmate, evidently knew of this event on Fairfield/Suisun Air Station, because when a school was to be built on the exact site of the crash many years later, he gave a public warning about the possible release of radiation at the site. There proved to be no radiation, so construction proceeded.
The base was named Travis after the general who died in the crash. "Named," said my father disapprovingly, "after a victim, not a hero." But now, thanks to the web, I know that this was an unjust assessment, because General Travis' wartime record was very distinguished, and he was indeed a highly decorated "war-hero."
My father, Berl Robinson, started the first Base newspaper, which he named the "Global Ranger." He was the General's PIO (Public Information Officer). I found a picture of the crash site in my father's effects. He had his photographer take a picture of it. He was in charge of base public relations and base historical records in addition to his duties as base newspaper editor.
After only a year, we moved out of Vacaville to Sacramento, because my father was assigned to an Air Base there. I returned to Vacaville in 1955, my father then a civilian. I attended 8th grade and all of High School here.
After High School, I entered the University of California at Davis (UCD) as a freshman majoring in Physics. I was still 16 years old when I entered UCD. I turned 17 within a month though. You may remember that I was the youngest member of our class, having skipped two half grades (the low second and the high third) on the way.
After two years at UCD, I entered Berkeley in 1962. I switched my major to Mathematics, then to Philosophy, and then back to Math and graduated in 1965 with a BA in Math and a commission in the United States Army in the Field Artillery. I subsequently attended Field Artillery Officers Basic and the Field Artillery Target Acquisition Class at Fort Sill Oklahoma in 1966. In 1967, I was stationed in Korea above the 18th Parallel near the DMZ. I got off active duty in January1968.
I then entered graduate school going towards a PhD in Math in September of 1968 at the University of Oregon in Eugene. (I have been successively a Bulldog, a Bear, a Redleg, and a Duck! They call field artillerymen, ‘Redlegs.’) There I met my wife to be, then Mary Lynne Westmoreland, who was getting a Master’s in English Literature after having taught Junior High for a couple of years.
We were married in 1970 two and a half months after we met, none-the-less in a church wedding. I took a position as a systems software programmer with Burroughs Corporation in Pasadena, and we lived in adjoining Sierra Madre in a 550 square foot three-room house for $100 a month. You remember prices like that don’t you?!
I spent two years with Burroughs, then 6 months at NCR in Rancho Bernardo working on the System Interchangeable Executive (SIX) for the 3205 GPMC, until they threatened to move us to Wichita Kansas. Then I spent a hear and a half at Litton Mellonics in Mountain View California, working on secret Air Force satellite command and control software.
While at Litton Mellonics, I developed Hodgkin’s Disease, a cancer of the lymph glands. After a successful course of radiation treatment at Stanford Medical Center, I got itchy feet again and took a job with a small firm called Prodata in Rohnert Park near Santa Rosa in Sonoma County California. After one and a half years with Prodata and two implementations of PRONTO (PROgrammable Network Telecommunications Operating system) I became a self-employed computer consultant, initially doing programming on the very same product as I worked on at Prodata Corporation.
I have been self-employed since then except for a year and three quarters starting in 1982 with Lexisoft, Inc, a word processing and desktop publishing software firm, in Davis California, doing support, then becoming their Director of Dealer Sales. We did technical writing, consulting, word processing and database seminars, software distribution, contract programming, and owned a computer store, until we acquired the MasterPlan financial planning program, and started MasterPlan Financial Software in 1989.
Mary and I worked together as freelance technical writers for Micro Ap, ANSA Corp., Direct Technology in the UK, and Hewlett Packard in Roseville to name just a few. One of these contracts took us to England for five and a half months. Quite an adventure that last was! Earlier working on PRONTO for Varian Data Machines and then Univac when they acquired Varian, we spent a year and a quarter in Zurich Switzerland working at the Swiss Credit Bank. We got to see England, Scotland, Germany, and Holland as well as many cities in Switzerland in the course of that contract.
We are still plugging away at developing, marketing, and supporting MasterPlan and running MasterPlan Financial Software ever since 1989. Be sure to visit our web site at www.masterplanner.com to see what we are up to there.
After Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park where we spent four years, we moved to Davis California where we spent 16 years with many side trips until 1998 when we moved to Vacaville to live in my parents’ old home. My father died in 1994 and my mother two years earlier at 80 and 84 respectively. My mother taught for 30 years in Texas, the Philippines, Washington, and California, then retired. My father had many occupations, one of which was as owner-operator of Robby Hobby in a little nook and cranny storefront on one side of the old theater building. One of his occupations was High School teacher at Vaca High.
My latest adventure is being a member of the Reunion Committee. Look forward to seeing you at our 45th Reunion!
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