WeBiography of Robin Richmond

This is not anything close to a complete biography or a reflection of what is truly important in my life. It doesn't begin to describe my relationship with my wonderful wife, how my parents cared for me (well) or influenced me (substantially and positively), my work, my sociopoliticial views and how they came about, my volunteer and civic activities (for the most part) or the great group of friends that I spent time with during college and graduate school. Rather, it is an excuse to collect Web links to places I've been to, things I've seen, and organizations I've had some association with. Maybe someday I'll describe these more subtle and personal pieces of my life, but not yet.

Oops - it only runs through 2002!?!!, long before I retired (2008 from full-time work; 2014 from part-time teaching), about the time that Judith got her big life- and company-changing promotion at Forest City Enterprises, before her cancer was discovered (2003), and well the cancer finally won (2013)..

Biographical NotesPlaces I visited
1953 I was born in Dumont, New Jersey to Clarence Richmond and Valle Horton. We lived in the town of Leonia, in the shadows of upper Manhattan. My earliest memories are of the little red lighthouse underneath the George Washington Bridge, which was walking distance from our apartment. My sisters, Melanie and Beth, were born in New Jersey, too. Beth is only 11 1/2 months older than I am, and Melanie is just under two years younger. How did Mom keep up with us!?!

When I was three, my dad went to work for American Airlines, who sent him to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I started school. My brother Charlie was born in Tulsa, just a few weeks before we moved to San Diego, California. In California, I started following baseball and became a lifelong Dodger fan. We then moved to New York. Dad worked in New York City, and we lived in Seaford, Long Island. (We moved once when our house was taken out by an expressway.) I wound up going to four elementary schools in three states, including two schools in Seaford. But the moves were great for me. I enjoyed the exposure to different regions, and, conveniently for me, we stayed put throughout my junior and senior high school years where social stability is probably most important.

George Washington Bridge

Cleveland,TN

Mt Palomar
Observatory

Hayden Planetarium

1965 We moved back to Tulsa just in time for me to start junior high at brand-new Richard E Byrd Jr High. I then went to Memorial High School. My primary high school activity was the marching band. I also had a newspaper route for the Tulsa Tribune for four years, and was a Boy Scout.

Beth and I got to take advantage of Dad's free flying privileges when he was in Paris for a business trip, and we joined him for a weekend (yes, a weekend) during my junior year. And the entire family joined several other families from church for a trip to the Smoky Mountains during the summer of 1968, and then to Rocky Mountains the next year.

Will Rogers Home

Paris & Amsterdam

Smoky Mountains

Sagamore Hill

Kennewick,
Washington

1971 The week after I started college at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, my family continued its migrations, to Irvine, California, and ultimately back to Tulsa.

I picked my undergraduate major and decided on a medical orientation fairly quickly. I studied Systems Engineering and worked in the Industrial Engineering department at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas through SMU's undergraduate engineering co-op program.

I was able to take advantage of Dad's flying privileges and make a couple of low budget quick trips by myself. My favorites were to Boston, San Francisco, Mexico City, and Niagara Falls.

I met the love of my life at the very beginning of my freshman year. Judy Wolfe worked in the SMU cafeteria with me. Of course, at 18, I wasn't ready for, much less capable of, a lifetime commitment. We hung out together as close friends from the beginning, but didn't really even date until years later. In fact, it took a good 12 years for us to settle down together.

Mexico City

Niagara Falls

San Francisco

Boston

San Antonio

1976 After some enlightening and entertaining travel to both coasts to visit graduate programs in computer science, clinical computing, and biomedical engineering, I decided to stay in Dallas for the Medical Computer Science program at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Overall, that was a great experience, although I outlasted the graduate program. (Actually, none of the graduate programs that I seriously considered are still in existence!).

Through most of my time in graduate school, I worked for the national Deaf/Blind Information Center, which was a federal agency that followed the progress of deaf/blind children and provided funding to various service centers.

I'd have to say that the apex of my social life was the period of "The Group". For several years in the late 70's and early 80's I played softball, went camping, and socialized regularly with a great group of friends. The core group numbered between 10 and 15 people, and through those years, I don't remember a single fight or other nasty encounter, which is remarkable for a group of people in their mid-to-late 20s going through the stress of romances, marriages, divorces, graduate school, and a couple of serious injuries. I still make a point of getting together with members of the old gang when I go back to Dallas, and we've had pretty good reunions at Christmastime each of the last two years.

Toronto

Padre Island

Robbers Cave

Caddo Lake

1983 Judy and I started dating seriously in the early '80's, and on October 29, 1983, we finally got married. (My standard personal joke: There was a lot of discussion about whether she would change her name. She did. She started going by "Judith" at about the time we were married.)

Our honeymoon coincided with a business trip for Judith. We spent a week in Paris, and then we drove to Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, Germany where she conducted some business for the Trammell Crow Company.

Lake Tahoe

Paris &
Dusseldorf

1984 By the time I finished my Ph.D., there were no computer science Ph.D.'s left on campus, although a couple of my professors were still in town, so I was able to continue to work with them. So I appreciate the efforts of Meg Lewis for staying with me after she left the University, and Joan Reisch for taking over as my official advisor at the end.) For what it's worth, my dissertation title was Software Maintainability Metrics for MUMPS programs". I never did any follow-up research on the topic.

I broke with tradition and typed my dissertation myself - before the days of the IBM PC - using WordStar and 8-bit CP/M machines.

London
1985 My ambition hadn't been to move into academics, but I found an attractive job in town as a visiting assistant professor in the Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Texas at Arlington. I didn't teach much; mostly I was the data manager and a researcher for an interesting grant involving the measurement of human sensorimotor function.

Meanwhile, Judith finished college at the age of 20 in 1973, went to work for Ernst & Ernst, and became a CPA. She later moved to the Trammell Crow Company, a massive commercial real estate developer, where she cut her teeth in the commercial real estate business during the real estate boom of the early 1980's. She then moved to a new company, RPR Properties, which was the real estate investments arm of Rauscher Pierce Refsnses, a regional brokerage firm (now part of RBC Dain Rauscher). There she discovered the dark side of the real estate business during the crash of the late 1980's. She wound up being the last employee of RPR Properties, and was then given an opportunity with the parent company, in Minneapolis. Since at that point, it was either move up or move out, she, for the first time in her life, seriously considered moving out of her native Texas. And, since I happened to be at the point where I was going to have to move to a new position on a new grant, I jumped at the chance to start over in a new place.

Japan & Thailand

Switzerland & Austria

1988 So, in the summer of 1988, we moved to Minnesota, where Judith started her new job and I started looking for work. I abandoned academics and took a position working on an Automated Medical Record project for a local staff model HMO (i.e. it employs providers and runs clinics that see only its members), Group Health, Inc. (now HealthPartners). We settled in the suburb of Golden Valley, on the west side of Minneapolis.

The real estate market slump grew to national proportions, so Judith's company wound up essentially liquidating its properties. Judith thus gained a lot of bankruptcy experience, and then went to work as a consultant for Coopers and Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers), heading up a bankruptcy and business reorganization practice. Then, when the economy improved and bankruptcy consultation became a less viable business, she headed back to real estate, in the real estate lending group of First Bank (now US Bank) in Minneapolis. She also got her MBA through the Executive MBA program at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.

Meanwhile, I worked at HealthPartners for six years before moving to United HealthCare, a large, national managed care company that runs network model HMO's (i.e. it doesn't employ the providers or run the clinic; it just contracts with providers). I led an interesting R&D project investigating the use of a wirelesss pen-tablet physician workstation with network connection to the HMO's claims database. The project was a lot of fun, but ultimately not commercially viable. Fortunately, as that project died out, another much bigger one came around. Since I had latched onto the emerging World Wide Web technology and used it in the physician workstation project, I was given the opportunity to build and lead an Internet development team for United HealthCare.

While in Minnesota, I was active in the Democratic Party (it's called the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota), and spent some time with an anti-violence program called Brother's Keepers (not to be confused with the Genealogy software or the is a German-based transnational anti-racism project with the same name. Judith, meanwhile, served on the board of the Harriet Tubman Center, a women's shelter and family violence service organization. Harriet Tubman, by the way, was an escaped slave, a hero of the Underground Railroad, and a long-time advocate for women and the poor.

Mt Rushmore,
Yellowstone,
Portland,
Seattle, &
Glacier Natl Park

Greece & Turkey

Bavaria

Alsace,
Lake Geneva,
French Alps,
Provence

Budapest & Prague

Panama

New Zealand

1996 But then Judith found a great opportunity to get back into the developer side of real estate, with Forest City Enterprises in Cleveland, Ohio. So I said goodbye to Minnesota and Lake Superior, and hello to Ohio and Lake Erie. I did a bit of consulting when I first came to town, and then took a job similar to my United HealthCare job, as "Web Manager" at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Through friends, a couple of newspaper stories, and the discovery of very strong anti-gay sentiment that I certainly didn't remember from my youth, I became aware of the discrimination against and fear (on both sides) of gay people, so I vowed that mt initial volunteer activity in Cleveland would be to support gay people. So, a couple of months after we moved, I attended a meeting of the local chanpter of PFLAG (Parents, Family, and friends of Lesbians and Gays). It was remarkable caring support group involving parents who were undergoing emotional trauma one way or another when a child came out as gay, gay people who were trying to figure how or whether to come out to their families, parents and gay people who had already gone through that process. (In some cases, on both "sides", some parents and their adult chilren both came.) It was remarkable and heartening to watch families heal through that support group. It stuck. PFLAG became my "family" in Cleveland, and I served as resident of the chapter for five years. I later served on the board of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network).

Tanzania

Cleveland Metroparks

2002

We brought Judith's mother, Raquel Azcarraga Wolfe, from Texas to live with us. She had lived in Henderson, Texas, since she and Judith's father (Alfred Wolfe) were married in 1946. When Alfred needed regular kidney dialysis, they took an apartment in nearby Longview. Raquel was in great shape until shortly after he died in 1996, but by the time she was 89, she was in assisted living and miserable, so we invited her to live with us.

She rebounded emotionally, but was already suffering neurologically from TIAs (mini-strokes) and we arranged for full-time companions/sitters She didn't absolute need that attention, but neither she nor Judith wanted Juith to care for her; it was enough for both of them that they were simply close at hand. The sitting arrangement worked wonderfully for over two years. We managed to keep four sitter for all that time, and she was great friend with at least two of them. But, by coincidence (I believe), that arrangement started to fall appart just a couple of months before Raquel died.

Valdez, Alaska

Kauai

The Grand Canyon

Niagara-on-the-Lake

2003 In late April, I took Judith to the ER in a nearby community hospital for bad stomach cramps, and on the second day of trying to figure out why her intestines were blocked, they did a colonoscopy and discovered that colon cancer had caused a blockage in her transverse colon.. It was also event that the cancer that grown well into and perhaps through the intestinal wall. She was 49, and her first colonoscopy was already scheduled to be done in a few weeks.

The situation called for emergency surgery, so I plied my contacts at Cleveland Clinic to find the best surgeon for her. Meanwhile, Judith called the office of Albert Ratner, who was a president emeritis of Forest City Enterprises (and a member of the family that founded and led the company), to tell him that she would not be able to come to an upcoming meeting. Albert was in a meeting elsewhere, but his assistant insisted on putting Judith through to him. Well, he was sitting in the office of the Cleveland Clinics CEO, who immediately took charge and the best colorectal surgeon who was available and told him to be ready to operate on Judith as soon as she was transferred to the Clinic. Clearly, as was pretty much true throughout our lives together, her contacts trumped my contacts.

Her sugery kicked off an series of events that help to illustrate how amazing Judith was...
When she met the surgeon at about 6:30 p.m., he told her that he was missing his anniversary dinner. (I hope that his intent was to convey how serious the situation was, not to complain.) Judith said "Oh no! I don't want to interrupt your anniversary; besides, I don't want youto be distracted as you think about your wife. He told her not to worry, that this is what surgeons do, besides "You need this operation RIGHT NOW.".

For the next 9 years, without fail, Judith sent flowers to the surgeon's wife on their anniversary. (She also sent flowers and a fruit basket to her oncologist and his nurse each year.)

The operation revealed that the cancer had grown through her intenstine walls. The surgeon removed about a third of her large intestine, her uterous and ovaries, and as much of the nearby omentum as he could.(The ometum is a membrane that wraps around and among the organs below the diaphragm. , As soon as she recovered, they started six-week round of chemotherapy. Of course, it beat her down badly, but we were pleased to hear that blood tests and scans found no trace of cancer. Unfortunately, her doctors were clear in their view that some cancer tissue must be present in the omentum.

Still, we were thrilled, and decided to take a vacation in Maui to celebrate and help her recover.

In the previous fall, Judith had decided that she wanted to celebrate her 50th birthday in Colorado with friends from from Dallas, Minneapolis, and Cleveland (and even to pay the expenses of some). I thought that the idea was crazy - we'd never vacationed in Colorado, much less with friends, and I just didn't think that enough people would be able and willing to take a long weekend in Colorado for it to be worthwhile. But she insisted, so we arranged a weekend in Estes Park and invited about 40 people (mostly couple). 28 of them came to Estes Park for a wonderful weekend that showed our worried friends that she was doing well, and that did wonders for her.did her a whole came. It was a huge success.

Maui