For years, I have given Judy grief for reading obituaries. I think she reads them from every town where we have lived, especially her home town. Guess what I found myself doing last night. Yup, reading obituaries. It was the obituaries of a couple of people who had a meaningful impact on my life. One from a career perspective and one from a fun perspective.
I met Dr. Ernest (Ernie) Tsivoglou many, many years ago when I was a student at Georgia Tech. He was a retiring professor in the Environmental Engineering Department. I don’t remember what first brought us together but I do remember many learning opportunities and enjoyable times.
Ernie didn’t live too far from the Georgia Tech campus and I remember spending many Saturdays at his house doing “odd” jobs. I say odd because I don’t think he really cared about getting much work done. He was really looking for that interaction with young people and the opportunity to be a mentor. And in my case, he succeeded.
I would sit with Ernie at his kitchen table, always drinking black coffee in fine china cups, but the coffee was made in one of those old metal percolators that sat on the stove. Ernie always sketched out his ideas or the topic of discussion for the day on engineer’s quadrille paper. He always wrote with a fountain pen containing blue-black ink. Guess what my favorite writing instrument is. Yup, you got it, a nice fountain pen with blue-black ink.
I do remember one real job we performed and that was to install a sprinkler system at his house. You would have thought we were building an airplane. Every detail was sketched out on many sheets of paper to the nth degree. It ended up being a great system and it worked without a hitch.
When I graduated from Tech, finding a job was very difficult so Dr Tsivoglou hired me for 3 months until a full time job opened. He had a contract with the state of Georgia to perform stream studies and my temporary employment turned into the start of a full time career.
My first boss at the State was also a disciple of Tsivoglou as was his boss. I had the privilege to work with some of the best of the best in the field of environmental engineering, we accomplished some great things and those interactions were invaluable, unlike like the kinds of interactions experienced in the latter part of my career.
I am providing a link to Dr. Tsivoglou’s obituary, which was written my my first boss. It provides a glimpse into the man I am happy to call a mentor and a friend.
Next week, I’ll tell you about the fun mentor.