I grew up in Southwest Washington and live there now. I’m 61 and forced into an early retirement because I lost my left leg to cancer in 2016. The cancer was caused by an injury I received while exploring and mapping a cave in southwest Virginia in 2000. I’m divorced and have two wonderful daughters, five entertaining grandchildren.
I was in the Navy for 12 years as an Electronics Technician on ballistic missile submarines. Then I worked for various government and military contractors for 8 years, developing and overseeing training programs for equipment and computer systems. In 1994 I returned to the west coast to help my dad with the garage door installation and service company that he had started after retiring from the police department. He retired again in 1998 and I ran the business until my cancer in 2014.
I got interested in electronics when I was in 5th grade and by 7th grade, I earned my amateur radio license. My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 then a Commodore 64 and 128. I then started building my own IBM PCs.
I started exploring caves after my divorce in 1982 and soon became involved with the Virginia Speleological Survey and began mapping and inventorying caves in Virginia. From 1986-2013 I help discover and map 117 new caves and helped to map over 300 others. It’s an interesting hobby and one of the few where you can set foot on ground that no other human has seen before. I was lucky enough to have been involved with the discovery and excavation of the most complete Short-Faced bear skeleton found in Virginia. It was carbon dated to 10,800 years old. It is now on display in the Natural History Museum in Richmond.
I got interested in genealogy in 2008. When the housing bubble burst, I had a lot of free time, so my dad gave me 5 large boxes of pictures that had belonged to my grandparents and great-grandparents and asked me if I could figure out who everyone was. Nine and a half years later, I know who most of them are and how they are related. My great-grandmother had pictures from 3rd cousins, so I had to trace the descendants of most of my 3rd and 4th great-grandparents to solve the puzzle.
Because of genealogy, I’ve become a student of US history, which now dominates my reading list. I also play (at) guitar enjoy writing songs about caving.
Now, since I’m not working, I have pretty much-made genealogy my full-time job, although I also do data entry and collaborate on the drawing of maps for cave survey projects to help out my friends. I also take a month or so in the summer to go to the east coast to spend time with my family.