My Life From High School to Retirement
In 1965 I graduated from high school at the Annapolis Royal Regional Academy in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada. Then I went to the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology (NSIT) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and took their diploma course in Electronics Engineering Technology. In 1967 I graduated from NSIT, started work in the engineering department at Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Co. in Halifax, Nova Scotia and married my wife Donna.
In 1975 Donna and I were blessed with the birth of twins; a boy Adam and a girl Cherie. What a life change, 8 years as a couple, then, surprise, surprise, 2 infants to care for. However, they were a joy, we got through it, and would not wish the experience to be any different. In 1978 we had our 3rd child, Walter (Wally) and our family was complete.
By 1981 I was thoroughly bored with the bureaucracy and slow pace of the telephone company and I accepted a customer service position with Mitel Corp. I worked in their Halifax office for 3 years supporting their telephone company customers in the maritime provinces. In 1985 I transferred to their head office in Kanata Ontario (near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). There I managed a technical support group doing world wide technical support for their digital telephone switching systems. While I was there I found my true calling. I eventually moved to a Product Management position in Mitel’s Public Switching division. I found that I love Product Management in the high tech world and I did it in various forms for most of the rest of my working career. Mitel was a fantastic place to work and I enjoyed working there. However, that all changed when British Telecom bought the company; a telephone company trying to get into the high tech manufacturing business; no longer a great place to work. So, in 1988 I accepted a Systems Engineering position with BNR (Bell Northern Research) in Ottawa and got to work on the bleeding edge of the new line of fiber optic based telecom systems they were developing. As the products became ready to transition from the design phase to the production phase, a lot of the planning and marketing functions were moved to a division of Northern Telecom (Nortel) in Norcross, Georgia, USA (near Atlanta).
In 1991 I transferred to Norcross Georgia as a Product Manager with Nortel. My family moved to Norcross and we started a new life in the USA. These were exciting times in the telecom business in the US. The Bell monopoly had been dismantled and the telephone service industry was deregulated. Because of deregulation, small start-up companies were developing innovative new products for the industry. The successful ones were bought out by bigger companies like Lucent, Nortel, Acatel, etc. A lot of them didn’t succeed.
In 1996 I got start-up fever and went with Yurie systems in Landover Maryland as Director of Product Management for their ATM data products. In 1998 they were bought out by Lucent Technologies (of New Jersey). I moved back to Nortel in Atlanta as Director of Product Management in their data access group (DSL and stuff like that). In 2000 the fever hit me again and I went with another telecom equipment start-up named Alidian Networks. They were based in Silicon Valley in California but I worked in Product Management mostly in a small satellite design group of theirs in Atlanta (with frequent trips to California). They did not make it and went out of business in 2001. While looking for a “real job” I sold cars for a few months at a Pontiac dealership in Atlanta.
In 2002 I took a Product Management job with Celite Systems in Austin Texas. Donna and I were empty nesters by then, so we sold our house in Norcross GA and moved to Texas. We bought a house in Leander TX. We loved the house and really enjoyed life in Texas. However, due to a number of reasons, Celite Systems went out of business at the end of 2003. Back on the street again looking for a job. While looking again for a “real job” i worked the night shift at Dell Computers in Austin assembling computers. In 2004 I got a Product Management job with Zhone Technologies in Oakland California. We had problems selling our Texas house so we rented it and rented a house an Alameda California (near Oakland). We were only in California for one year when a corporate reorganization moved my job to the Atlanta division of the company. We were ecstatic. Hated California, loved Atlanta. We had sold our house in the Atlanta area so we rented an apartment near work and bought a 15 acre hobby farm about 80 miles outside Atlanta. We used the country place as a weekend get away while I was working. We did not do much farming.
In 2007, a corporate downsizing eliminated most of Zhone’s Atlanta operation, including my job. This time I went to work at Wal-Mart selling TVs and computers while job hunting again. Within a few months I got a customer support job with Vyyo Inc in Norcross GA. Vyyo made products for the cable TV industry. Unfortunately they were in shutdown mode and my job was providing technical support to their existing customer while they tried to sell the company. This lasted about a year while they sold of their intellectual property to a couple of different companies. They kept me on for an additional year on contract for customer support. It was purely an on-call basis; if a customer called the help line, I helped them with their issue and I only got paid when there was a call. At least I worked from home.
It was 2009 and I was unemployed. I sent out a lot of resumes but, in the high tech world, no one is interested in interviewing a 62 year old Product Manager. Experience does not count as much as youth. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened to Donna and I. I officially retired in 2009 and we built a new house on the farm property. We also bought a travel trailer and did some camping. We are enjoying country life but we are not doing much farming. I do have a farm tractor so I can look like a farmer driving around on it :-).
All 3 of our children live in Georgia; all within 100 miles of our house, so we see them often. None of them is married so our hopes of being blessed with grandchildren are fading.
As a hobby, I custom build and repair computers. Mostly for friends and family. Recently I have been taking some on-line courses on web page design. I have built a couple of web sites so far. I may decide to do some design commercially, can’t decide. But I need a bit more experience first.
We have a cottage at Lake La Rose (about 5 miles from Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada). So we spend a couple of months each summer at the cottage, and the rest of the year at home on our country property near the small town of Madison Georgia, USA.
Donna and I celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary in September 2022.