Saturday, May 26, 2012

Quiet Influence

Earl J Holdren (1928 - 2012)

I met Earl in 1978 as a newly hired engineering undergrad. Over time we began to work together on projects, and I came to realize how fortunate I was to have him not only as a career mentor, but as a I life mentor, and ultimately as a friend.

As an engineering mentor, he taught me everything he knew. Analog circuits, signal conditioning, bridge amplifiers, A/D converters, fiber-optics, microprocessors, programming, interfacing, digital logic. Looking back, I am amazed at his breadth of knowledge over so many engineering disciplines. I had the privilege of working with him to develop Chrysler's third-generation optical digital crash recording system which was used in dynamic crash testing for over 10 years and is still used in static safety testing to this day!

As a life mentor, Earl taught me integrity and faith. He taught me to be tolerant of different beliefs and respectful of the sensitivities of others. As for integrity, he demonstrated it. You could rely on Earl and could trust him without question. He was a man of strong faith and integrity; this was  reflected by his peaceful demeanor.

As a friend, our relationship was improbable. We were a generation apart. I was about the same age as his children. Nevertheless, Earl and I developed a close friendship. We shared many walks and talks in and around the old Highland Park complex. We talked about life, career, family, and faith. The certainty of his faith rubbed off on me. After Earl retired, I was able to periodically visit him in Windsor where he lived. He and his wife Betty graciously welcomed me (and sometimes my entire family) into their home for visits and afternoon teas.

It is said that a person is known by the company they keep. It was an honor to have been in Earl's company.