Lucky Man

6 min readJun 4


He had white horses
And ladies by the score
All dressed in satin
And waiting by the door

Ooh, what a lucky man he was
- Emerson, Lake & Palmer

No white horses or ladies by the score for me, but I am a very lucky man indeed. Now 72, I spend a fair amount of time reflecting on the many experiences I’ve had over the course my life. They involved a broad spectrum of emotions, including joy, exhilaration, terror, love, sadness… pretty much every human emotion. I’ve seen things very few people ever see. I have enjoyed the comforts afforded to many westerners, and seen the abject poverty and suffering that many people around the globe endure.

This article is an effort to recount those experiences. I will do this in part using photos from our family photo albums. Unfortunately, there are many events from my past for which I have no photos, so those events will not be included in this pictorial autobiography. Perhaps I will produce a more conventional autobiography someday.

Elizabeth, 11 & Patricia, 8

0I start with the preceding image, because I am told my mother was pregnant with me when this photo of my sisters in front of the Sphinx was taken.

1 Born December 13, 1950 in Dhahran Saudi Arabia.

3 Our back yard in Dhahran (c. 1953). I can just barely reaching the peddle at the top of the stroke.

3 Living overseas, our family had lots of opportunity for international family vacations. These photos were taken on the SS Auriga.

4 Swimming at the pool in Dhahran was always fun… even though the expression in this photo doesn’t show much glee.

7 Early in 1957 my parents noticed that I was limping and took me to the Hospital in Dhahran. The preliminary diagnosis was Perthes disease, which involves a softening of the hip joint. My parents and I flew back to the states where that diagnosis was confirmed. I was fitted with the brace shown in the photo above, which I wore for about 3 years. Shortly after my diagnosis, we moved the Manilla in the Philippines.

8 My 2nd grade portrait.

9 This photo of me in my cub scout uniform was taken in 1960, shortly after my brace came off for good. Thankfully, my hip healed well, and I was left with no lingering effects of my hip problem.

9 We left the Philippines in 1960, and headed for the Canary Islands. The photo above is of my sister Pat and I on the Queen Elizabeth I, crossing from New York to South Hampton, England.

10 Obviously, I am more than 10 years old in this photo, 46 actually. Ellen and I were visiting Madrid on our honeymoon in 1997. We stopped by the apartment where my family lived in 1960–61, when I was 10. Trenta Calle Darro

17 My Senior Photo, Bartow High School. A lot happened between age 10 and 17. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of myself over those years. That was a tumultuous time in my family’s lives. But more detail will have to wait for a real auto biography.

20 Being rescued from a 50 foot deep hole in the Pisgah lava field. It is events like this that make me wonder how I managed to survive for 72 years… and counting. It is difficult to describe this event in just a few words. If you’re interested, you can find out more about it here, Duckworth’s Excellent Adventure.

21 This photo is from one of the most amazing adventures of my life… climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I did this just before I abandoned my first collegiate effort studying physiological psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

22 This is one of my favorite photos of myself. I am sitting on the very pinnacle of Ord Mountain, the highest peak in this part of the Mojave Desert. I am holding puppy Saudi. My first dog, who I named after the place I was born.

23 I was living in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle and working for KEM Marine Equipment as a hydraulic mechanic .

31 Racing in the Sumner Triton Triathlon. The story of cycling in my life is another one that is too long and complicated for this essay. In the 8 year gap between 23 and 31 I returned to college at the University of Washington to study Mechanical Engineering, completing my degree 1978. I worked for Boeing from 1978 through 1983.

32 Demonstrating the very early version of Personal Designer (PD). Computer Aided Design software (CAD) I created. Creating this software fundamentally changed my life, bringing me wealth and opportunity I doubt I would have had without it.

35 This is Saudi as an adult (left), and in his last days as old boy when he couldn’t walk any more (right).

35 In 1985 my CAD software was selling well, so I decided to buy some property on South Whidbey Island. I became friends with my neighbors, the Arndt family. In this image, I am showing Ryan and Damon Arndt my Cad Software.

36The property I purchased is situated on the north side of Lone Lake, where Bob Arndt and his crew built a beautiful house for me.

37 The Arndt family who befriended me almost as soon as I moved onto the property adjacent to their property on Lone Lake.
Left to Right — Damon, Bob, Bonnie, me, Ryan.

47 A bronze statue of Kibo, my second dog was installed in front of Husky Stadium at the University of Washington.

69 Jumping way ahead cuz we are leaving on vacation in a matter of hours. This is Maya, the eighth Mal to adopt me. My apologies to Sarge, Arlo, Cassie, Smokey and Bandit for leaving them out. I plan to update this article in a couple of weeks and they will surely be included then.




On the internet they can’t tell that you’re actually a dog…