Dr. Richard David Rodewald AKA rodewlr@directvinernet.com


  It must have been shortly after the junior prom when I got serious about colleges and applied to a few.  When Harvard accepted me, I had no choice, Doc Carney being Doc Carney.  (I have been blessed continually throughout my life with good angels looking after my best interests.)  After four years at Harvard, during which time Lauren, Danny, and other mutual friends filtered in and out of my life, I went off to graduate school to the Department of  Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania.  I survived that with a dissertation and a  new wife, Liz, after 4 years.  Summers were spent at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.  What then followed was a short year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego.  I must say I at least didn't mind living in La Jolla that year and being able to walk from our little pink house to the ocean and Bird Rocks any afternoon I chose.  However, Harvard beckoned again.  Off I went to the Pathology Department at Harvard Medical School for 2 years.  By the end of that period I had made an  international scientific name for myself in two fields and was having a ball.


Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  However, life evens things out, as many of you now know. My first big mistake was taking an academic position in the Biology Department at the University of Virginia in 1973.  This started out all right with great expectations, and it  fulfilled my desire to pay back my debt to the many good teachers I had throughout my  academic career.  I would be able to teach smart undergraduates what I loved.  It took me over 25 years of struggling in this third-rate department to realize my mistake.  Maybe I  wasn't that good a teacher. Maybe the students weren't so smart after all.  For sure some of  my departmental colleagues were and still are bastards.  Don't send any of your kids to UVa  if they think they want to major in biology.


 Somewhere in there, 1980 to be exact, Emma was born.  She just graduated from Oberlin  College this fall, majoring in biology.  You would have to meet her to really tell what a  wonderful person she is.  Also during the UVa years, we experienced a medical disaster when  Liz contracted Guillain-Barre syndrome, spent four months in intensive care on a ventilator  and almost died.  I was too numb at the time to know what this would mean.  However,  science is like a fast moving freight train: once you get off, even for a short time, you can't get back on.  My professional and personal lives were derailed, and I had no time to spend the long hours required to be successful in the lab and also to be a passable father to Emma and caretaker to Liz.  Liz's recovery was a long, drawn out struggle for all in the   family.  Our marriage fell apart.


On the rebound, I hooked up with Katie.  Bad luck and  now a second bad mistake.  The  details of my misfortunes with her are still too painful to share with you like this.  Crazy woman, which says something about me at the time.  Another divorce, but not without a little boy, Brian, born in 1994.

 And yet again things are now evening out.  I decided to take a sabbatical at the National Science Foundation in 1997 as a scientific program administrator.  I liked doing this so  much (after leaving behind the bad taste of UVa) that the temporary job at the NSF turned  into a 2 1/2 year stint.  During this time, I gained custody of Brian, in a very Quakerly   and amicable way, and lo and behold became a single father to a kid in diapers.  Even better  than that, I met Joanne at the NSF, where she has a permanent job, and married her after  careful soul-searching in 2000 .  After all, who would want me?  Two failed marriages.  A five-year-old autistic, albeit very gifted, handful of a boy.  A career in still uncertain transition.

Well, Joanne, another one of those good angels, chose wisely for me when she married me.  I  gave up my tenured professorship at UVa and got a permanent job at the NIH doing scientific  review administration--an easy transition from the NSF.   We live in a brand new, beautiful  house one block from Brian's elementary school where he has not only fabulous teachers, but an entire county school system giving him everything he needs.  And Joanne couldn't be a better mommy, even though she has no children of her own.  Don't worry about little Brian.

And although I have a Washington commute, Joanne can even walk to work at the NSF.  Couldn't  be better.  I'm happy, very happy..........


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