Sunday, October 4, 2020

Henry Grant Fernald

This is the full name of my Father-in-law. He was a man of few words, which turned out to be very typical for a "Chinese"  like me. Not that I have others to compare him with, but it was very comfortable for me to be with him during the years I have been married with his daughter, Janice, in all occasions of our lives. Before he was ill with Alzheimer disease, he was requested to write some words about his life. Janice and I recently got a copy and I thought it was well-worth putting in this blog. I am now presenting it here with his picture, taken when he was a young man:
    Just before the 2nd World War, I tutored a large number of students at Harvard. They were taking the Navy V5 courses for prospective officers. Their professors couldn't seem to get their subjects across and expected them all to flunk their exams. I knew as little as the students about such things as internal combustion engines, but we studied together and they all passed and became naval officers.
    During the was I was in civil engineering down south. I was always elated at how surprised my boss was that I could look up trigonometric functions so easily.
    After the war, I came to A.O. (American Optical) During my first week I showed Miss Clancey a formula from civil engineering which greatly simplified her lens computations. I was pleased when I was given credit for it in a magazine article she had published.
    I am always pleased when people comment on my ability to write Fortran programs which don't need to be de-bugged. Also, it did something for my ego when people came to me as the expert on Fortran problems.
    Some of the programs I have written lately produce fancy plotting, which various people wanted to hang up as samples of what can be done.
    I am always pleased to get my name on patents and magazine articles, even though it is usually in second position. 
    I even amaze myself with the facility with which I can juggle algebraic and trigonometric equations. Figures have always been my pride and joy, and I am not happy unless I am dabbling with them.
    I am very good at deriving mathematical equations for solving nasty problems, and finding new methods for presenting data.
    I enjoy being praised for being a home handy-man, including electricity and plumbing.
    But my crowning achievement was the house my wife and I built on Cape Cod, doing all the work ourselves!

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