"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." —Mark Twain

Nice Things People Do

Alyosha and Lyusya let my friends and me stay with them when we were in Moscow.

Andy Lee let me take vacation time so I could participate in the 1994 World Rowing Championships. Andy came to my wedding in Wisconsin in 1996.

Arnie Andresen recruited me into CAP. He flew numerous missions with me, teaching me at every step. He made sure we did everything correctly, and did what real leaders do—look out for their troops more than themselves. He also made sure CAP stayed fun and included flying, which of course is what pilots love to do.

Bayara Artemevna Aroutunova was my guiding light at Harvard to the riches of Russian literature and encouraged my writing.

Ben Sylvester, Jr. coached me at Choate in the 1970s. He preserved a rowing home movie he made of the time I met Queen Elizabeth in Ottawa and gave it to me 17 years later. Ben and his wife Lee kept Robin and me safe when Hurricane Edouard was near.

Blocker Meitzen first suggested I try out for the US national rowing team.

Boogie is a brave and thoughtful Rasta-man in Antigua, West Indies. He was building a boat, and it was taking too long, and people began to make fun of him, thinking he would never finish. Then Hurricane David came along (9/79) and wiped out Dominica, leaving 60,000 homeless. With another hurricane, Frederick, only days away, Boogie organized a large food drive in Antigua, put his not-quite-finished boat in the water, and delivered the food to Dominica, where he got a hero's welcome. He made it back OK too, just before Frederick came right through the waters between the two islands.

Bruce and Laurie Davidson are the best in-law parents a married man could ever hope for.

Charles L. Perkins first told me about C (1977), Unix (1978), Smalltalk (1980), NeXTstep (1988), nanotechnology and Java (1993). He also introduced me to RMS in 1985, and convinced me to join Marble in 1991. Charles came to my wedding in Wisconsin in 1996. Now he's pursuing his dream at Virtual Rendezvous.

Crystal Develis called me every day for two months until I joined Camex in 1987. I loved working there.

Dan Daugherty writes clean, well thought out Java code, but on top of his busy day job, he volunteers more than 48 hours a month as a paramedic, saving lives one or more ways every day.

Prof. Don Knuth took time out of his concentrated work on the remaining volumes of The Art of Computer Programming to apply his scientific knowledge to study of the Bible, and in the fall of 1999, he spoke to us at MIT on "Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About" (God and Computers). It is especially poignant that among history's most distinguished and likeable computer scientists is a person yet humble, who feels a calling from God to explore His Word.

Don Treworgy taught me celestial navigation, how to be a planetarium lecturer and track hurricanes at Mystic Seaport, which was an awesome summer job I enjoyed thoroughly at ages 17, 18 and 20. Don was also an awesome and selfless human being, silently doing innumerable good things for people, always encouraging people and bringing out their best. When I got my pilot's license, he quickly volunteered to be one of my first passengers and took amazingly good photographs on a clear, beautiful day. 31 years later, I learned he died of cancer the date I flew with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from Williamsport to Harrisburg, which was another clear and beautiful day. A week later, I was flying with a friend, from Boston back to Williamport at night, and for the entire flight, we flew west toward the constellation Boötes the Herdsman, which I've always associated with Don, except this time it was low to the horizon and seemed larger. It felt as though Don was guiding us, letting us know he was still watching over us. Don joyfully told children the constellation looks like an ice cream cone, with Corona Borealis on its left looking like a smile.

Espie Gorospe and her family taught me about forgiveness and grace. In 1992, as I was driving from work to read books for Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, Espie ran in front on my car by accident on a busy street, from in front of a van turning left onto a small street. I slammed on the brakes, but I still hit the young girl. It was the most awful moment in my life, because I was sure she was dead. But God revealed His miracles. I had been driving more slowly because I had a premonition the previous day, to watch out for children running onto the street chasing balls. After my car stopped, I rushed to help, but there was already a man kneeling beside her who said, "I'm a doctor, I'll take care of this." The accident happened in front of a church, and two nuns and a priest came out to help and pray. When the police and ambulance came, they and the crowd were all amazingly kind. Espie had a broken leg but recovered quickly. We became friends, her family invited me to their church, and we've kept in touch. I had faith even before this, but now I have no doubt.

Faith and Stephen Williams adopted my little sister and gave her a good home and upbringing. While I lived with them, I joined the Boy Scouts of America, which was lots of fun, and at a large Quaker meeting I got my first ride in a Cessna, taking off from a mesa in New Mexico. Also, Steve gave me a book when I was 11 that sparked my interest in Russian.

Harry Parker taught me how to pull hard.

My uncle Herbert Whitman donated his time and effort for years to record in two books our family's history (The Descendants of Alfred & Sarah Whitman and Whitman Revisited). His principle was always to write and say only the best things about people.

James Fargo saved my life by preventing a mid-air collision in 1980. James was my best man at my marriage in 1996.

James Moore took care of my ailing natural mother and gave his life in doing so. He had emphysema and she was a heavy smoker.

Johannes van Straalen taught me Russian at Choate, encouraging me at every step, including years later, listening to stories of travels in Russia in my post-college years. When I interviewed at Choate as a 14 year-old, I was also considering Milton Academy. I remember my father and Mr. van Straalen went walking down a path together, talking softly and exchanging some memories of WWII and of the trauma that had ravaged the world. I noticed how kind Mr. van Straalen was to my father, and that was what convinced me I wanted to attend Choate.

John Goode brought my poet friend Naum Korzhavin and his wife and CLP and RMS and me to Russia. John also taught me to ski.

John Gunshenan took the heat from demanding defense customers and kept our development team inspired, productive and motivated.

John Joseph was my mentor at Choate and he was the ultimate teacher, housemaster and sage.

John Scott encouraged my early Russian studies and told me of his years as an American in Magnitogorsk in the early 1930s.

Mild-mannered John Sinues proves that a good DBA is priceless and Superman lives.

Jon Taylor was working for our client (IBM) and went on long runs to help me get from 130 to 108 lbs. before Worlds in 1994.

Ken Anderson was a mentor and a friend who guided me to better ways of doing everything.

Ken Lynch does more to support community causes than anyone I know.

Lawrence Maynard and Frank Laedlein both sang in our church choir since they were boys, except during their service in WWII, in total for more than seventy years!

Lawrence and Florence Olson, Robin's grandparents, taught me how to say grace at dinner and how to lead a life that would be pleasing to God.

Lisa Noke-Kearney made sure I wasn't forgotten when I was on assignment as a Marble consultant.

My sister Lissie Knauth, while a single mother, also took care of our parents, worked, and put herself through college. She became a molecular biologist working on a cure for cancer. Later, she was struck by cancer herself and died in 2009.

Michelle Elvy brought herself and seven others from Marble to watch my boat compete at Worlds in 1994.

Mike Ryan, my college roommate and now a heart surgeon, came to my wedding in Wisconsin in 1996, bringing his wife Hildegard, also a doctor, and their two small children from Houston. Considering he only had three days' notice, I consider that a major miracle.

Mike Teel made me feel good about my work at Camex.

Molly Hoyle looked out for me and lined up an interview for me at BBN, which turned into the best job I ever had.

The Nicholsons let me hang out with their family in Antigua, Cambridge and Maine in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I never had so much fun in my life!

Pam Smith dropped everything and flew from Moscow to Boston when our mutual friend Marc Elvy died after a plane crash.

Paul Olson and Kathryn Jensen, my wife Robin's uncle and aunt, wined and dined us on our honeymoon and took us sailing on their boat.

Percy and Behri Knauth adopted me and sent me to the best schools. They spread love and human kindness to all. These two fine people made the most significant and sustained positive impact on my life by far!

Richard M. Stallman showed me that a person can live by a set of principles, in difficult circumstances, and produce something that is both very good for the world and very beautiful. Richard started the GNU Project, and now, thanks to him and thousands of others--and also very special thanks to Linus Torvalds, whom I've only met once--a personal dream has come true in the form of a fully-functional Linux-based GNU system on a laptop with full source.

Robin DeWitt Knauth took me hiking on the Presi Traverse, canoeing in Wisconsin, hiking in Minnesota and cross-country skiing in Massachusetts, Vermont and Wisconsin. She ran the 100th Boston Marathon with me and pulled me through the 23rd mile. She also rows a double scull very nicely. She did all this to show me how nice she is. And it worked! We were married at Archibald Lake, Oconto County, Wisconsin, in July 1996. In 1997 Robin took me to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back. Two months later she gave birth to our son Alexander, and in 1999, she did the same for our son William. Robin teaches Old Testament, Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Archaeology at Lycoming College, and loves to sing.

Steve Dekorte and I had good laughs at Marble about all the things we wished we could do. Years later, we are doing them!

Steve Gooding looked out for me every minute when I worked at Marble, and then at BBN too.

Students and mentors from Lycoming College paid to spend their spring break helping Gulf Coast residents rebuild following Hurricane Katrina. A flight attendant was moved to send them this very nice note.

Susan Greenbaum sings incredibly well and makes people happy.

Susan Williams Ellis is the most grown-up and sweetest little sister an ogre of an older brother like me could have.

Sylvia Weston has limitless faith in God and tells me simple and wondrous stories whenever I see her.

Ted Washburn made me a better coxswain and athlete.

Tim Knauth, my brother, took a bus across the country to come to my wedding, then shuttled guests back and forth between the lake and the airport nearly two hours away.

Tom Ware started my rowing career when I was 14.