Sunrise: First thing tomorrow morning. To be repeated daily until further notice.

2015 All-Bearcat Picnic:
The date is set for the seventh annual picnic. Join us on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at the PERA Club in Tempe. The picnic is meant for all RHS classes, their families, and the faculty and staff. Bring your own food, drink, and name tags, but no booze!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bob Kelahan Tells His Story

Bob, circa 1969
My dad's first job out of college was at the Asarco smelter just outside Salt Lake City that was later sold to Kennecott, so that's where I was born (in a hospital, not the smelter). Asarco transferred him every few years so I grew up in a few different places. That's a plus in that you get to see new places and make new friends, but on the downside it's difficult to make lasting friendships. We moved from Utah first to the Texas gulf coast, then to near Montreal, and then to El Paso. From all that a Texan French Canadian accent, y'all, ay?

Peggy, circa 1980

My dad was transferred to the Hayden smelter and we moved to Kearny in February of '68. So for my first day at RHS I'm wearing an oversized JV baseball letter jacket from my old high school in El Paso. I was certain it would be a perfect chick magnet. They wouldn't know I was nearly the last picked for the team and got to play in only two games. Sadly, I think they soon figured that out when instead of continuing with baseball I tried out for the golf team.

After graduating I went to Rensselaer, a technical college in upstate New York. Why? - Mostly wanderlust, plus they sent me a really neat looking college catalog. The Navy would be paying for it all, but that committed me to serving four years after college. By my sophomore year it was apparent that my becoming a Navy officer was not in our mutual best interest. I was also getting increasingly concerned about what a chemistry major would do in the Navy - analyze the water outside the ship? You would think I'd have thought all this through before starting down that path, but noooo. Fortunately the policy
allowed me to bail without penalty before starting my junior year. That immediately led to the next problem - how to pay for an expensive college. My parents had moved back to Texas and I had seen enough of New York by then, so the answer was simple - the University of Texas. At the same time my dad and my brother, both engineers, convinced me to switch to chemical engineering. Turned out to be good advice and a good fit for me. My mom's hope for attorney or physician was shot for good.

I had fond memories of childhood vacations to the St. Louis area to visit grandparents and cousins. So when I had the opportunity to start my career there I jumped at it. That's where I met my wife, Peggy. She was a Montessori kindergarden teacher. I don't recall the attraction - kind of skinny, not very tall, no sports car. Oh, towards her? - Well, she was really cute and her personality was a good contrast with mine (no wisecracks please). Amazingly, she even stayed with me as I went on a never ending search for the ideal job. This led me back to college, then to Chicago briefly, a little longer in eastern Kentucky, and then ten years in Houston. Along the way a few critters joined us. Peggy insisted we name them. So first there was Tim and then Dan while in Kentucky, and then Katie and Jenny while in Houston.

We had always thought we would someday move back to St. Louis, so when an opportunity eventually came we did just that. We've been back here nearly 20 years now. Monsanto, like many big companies, likes to periodically prune out older workers and my time came in 2005. They want to pay me to leave? Where do I sign?


I'm not ready to fully retire yet and Peggy has too many undesirables in my job jar, so I continue to do some projects and consulting in process control and simulation. Lately it's been nearly full time developing training simulators for refineries and chemical plants. It's like developing a flight simulator except instead of getting the student to take off, fly steady, and land, all without crashing, the goal is to start up the plant, make good product, and shut it down, all without it blowing up. Good fun.

Peggy still teaches part time. All the critters are out of the house now. Fortunately they all live nearby so we get to see them often. Tim is an electrical engineer working in process control. Dan is a restaurant manager. Katie and Jenny are occupational therapists working with special needs children. A side interest with Jenny - she dragged us to Ireland three times to watch her dance with the best. Okay, we did go willingly. She doesn't dance competitively anymore but continues to teach Irish dance part time. And no, she did not get that from me. I can't walk and chew gum at the same time - just ask someone from the golf team…

Hobbies: Irish festivals and hiking the national parks (no gum); Favorite sports team: St Louis Cardinals (duh!); Goal: climb Croagh Patrick at age 60; Chance RHS classmate encounter: running into Audrey Burnam on the UT campus (what are the odds of that?).

Kearny memory: The smell of a desert rain. The evening I arrived in Kearny it was after dark and either had just rained or was about to. Our apartment was half way up the hill. Looking down at the lights below I could hear a small group practicing music. The smell in the air was unmistakable and unforgettable. I think you can distinguish that of central Arizona from other desert areas. I am reminded of that smell very vividly whenever passing through central Arizona and a storm is nearby.

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