A good life
Wednesday June 15th 2022, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Family

My mom says that back in the day, her mom was visiting Mom’s older sister while she was away at college when Gram slipped on the ice and broke her hip.

There she was, in a city where she didn’t know anybody, alone and laid up in a hospital bed. So that’s fun.

Someone stopped by to visit a moment and keep her company. She’d never met the woman.

Turns out it was Mrs. Harvey Fletcher (Mom doesn’t remember her first name.) Her husband co-invented the TV, he invented the audiometer for testing hearing (I’ve seen the original at Johns Hopkins–it is set in a beautiful piece of woodworking), and his PhD advisor got the Nobel Prize for Harvey’s oil drop experiment, crediting him only on the man’s deathbed while Harvey kept it to himself, grateful that a prominent scientist had taken a farm boy under his wing and taught him so much. By all accounts Harvey was as humble a man as you could ask for. But I digress.

My Aunt Rosemary was dating the Fletchers’ son and that was reason or excuse enough to stop by to see someone after hearing what she was going through, far from home.

As one does.

One of the Fletcher sons, Jim, would become head of NASA. And from his retirement, would get on the phone to say, You’ve got to scrub the flight. It’s too cold, the O-rings will freeze, you can’t…!

Another, Bob, would be a scientist at Bell Labs for decades. And was every bit as good a man as the example his parents set–he was the best. Low-key, asking questions but always listening, generous, just a love of a man. And ever the scientist.

My sweet Uncle Bob recently celebrated his 101st birthday. Last night, after my cousin flew in to say goodbye along with her siblings, he quietly slipped away in her arms, leaving us to reunite with his waiting bride after 13 years apart.

4 Comments so far
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May the wonderful memories help ease the sorrow of his passing. I found a paper by Harvey, I’ll email to you, with his wife’s name.

Comment by DebbieR 06.15.22 @ 9:31 pm

So sorry for your loss.

Comment by Jayleen Hatmaker 06.16.22 @ 6:33 am

I’m sorry for your loss, but that is the best way to go.

Comment by ccr in MA 06.16.22 @ 6:59 am

Jim Fletcher was a friend of my parents. He and his wife gave us a salad bowl set that also perfectly worked as a cake cover when inverted on a plate. We always called it “the NASA bowl.”
I wish your Uncle Bob a wonderful flight and the happiest of reunions!

Comment by LauraN 06.17.22 @ 12:24 pm

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