I have written about my brother Jim before but recently there was an article about him that told us more about him that we did not know. He has always been a positive role model and hero of mine. The reason for this comes from his determination and his willingness to try and keep going no matter what.
When Jim was young Dyslexia had not been invented as a disorder or learning disability. He just had trouble learning to read but he was very smart. My mother arranged for tutoring and she worked with him until he was through with high school. She was his hero for her loyalty and devotion to helping him succeed. She was a very smart woman. Instead of making his reading the focus of his life she found other things for him to be involved in so that the kids around him in school and in scouting knew him from his other accomplishments and talents. He was a Boy Scout, he ran track, worked in the theater Department at Queen Anne High School, and at 16 he started rifle shooting competitively and joined the National Guard.
Jim was never the kid who could not read to us. He did so many other things well and worked hard at his school work and was able to graduate from High School in spite of his reading disability. Two of our other brothers had problems with reading so it certainly seemed genetic from my Dad’s side of the family. Dad had his office at home and my mom always checked things he wrote.
If you were to speak with folks who have known Jim for years I am sure most of them don’t have a clue about his reading problems because of the great things he does in the community. But to go back to his history.
In 1959 we moved back East to the suburbs of NY. Jim had graduated from High School and wanted to get some technical training since from a young age he could fix anything electric or otherwise. He was amazing. So he went down to NY City and attended RCA Institutes. He got into a new program learning about lasers which was brand new at that time. After a little while there his teachers had him move to a higher level since he had such great skills. When he finished his program Westinghouse hired him and he moved to Baltimore, met his wife and married. As they built a life together there, he started going to school at night at Johns Hopkins University in Electrical Engineering. He and his wife had four children and after many years he graduated from Hopkins. My parents were so proud of his achievement.
He was never laid off during various down-sizing and after retiring they hired him back on a consulting basis because of the depth of his knowledge. He had a fabulous career though many years.
But aside from that Jim has always been a volunteer. Our parents had been community volunteers so it was natural for all of us to do what they had done. In his retirement Jim has worked and a tax preparation program for the lower income folks and retirees at his Senior Center. He does a lot for his gun club. And volunteers to watch over folks at the Senior Center exercise room. He is active in his church and turning 78 this year he is just as busy as could be.
What many of us did not know about was his role at the National Rifle Matches that he has been attending since he was a teenager. They wrote a beautiful column about him and I am going to share that with you. He is a staple there and knows so much of the history of the various shooters who attend year after year. Having Parkinson’s Disease has slowed him down a little but as far as I can tell not too much. He is like they use to say about my mother – a real Energizer Bunny.
He has been a role model for many, going into schools to speak with special ed students about overcoming your disability. He is certainly not his inability to read – he is a contributor, a giving person and one who cares very deeply. When our mom was fading away he was so loyal to her. He would come up and stay at my house and leave in the morning to be with her a return after she went to sleep. He really visited her and gave to her up to the end.
So enjoy this article and learn a little about this wonderful man.
Charles O’Connor’s Diary February 1915
Feb 1 – Mr J Cain rents the little house. $3.00 rent to May. Better to have someone use it.
Feb 2 – Candlemass Day. Very snowy.
Feb 3 – No mail, no school. Bad storm.
Feb 4 – Albert Tye buys a colt $125. Brown one.
Feb 5 – Friday – Roads cleared.
Feb 6 – Turns mild and wet.
Feb 7 – More snow.
Feb 8 – Emily went to spend day with Annie S. I went to see Ira Bevins as they bring him home from Marble Rock. Keep calling Leroy.
Feb 12 Tom Slack comes to take Madeline to Elgin dance but she won’t go because I am quite sick.
Feb 13 – Cold. Much better.
Feb 14 – Herb heard I was sick and returned here.
Feb 15 – much better. Herb does chores etc.
Feb 16 – We all go to party at Jim Dillon’s. Phil Dillon home from States. All the girls fascinated with him. Handsome, charming, good dancer and divorced. Parents worried but cannot blame the girls. Madeline and Lenna quite taken with him.
Feb 17 – Pat K back for awhile.
Feb 18 – Sleighing good again.
Feb 19 – We cut 18 basswood logs.
Feb 20 – Fergus, Norah and Margaret here at noon.
Feb 22 – logging.
Feb 26 – Sick all week.
Feb 27 – Send insurance money for Fergus’ policy. Joe Bevins brings letter from Fergus.
Feb 28 – Betsey Bey Indian squaw here. Emily pays her for 2 Indian doll basket cradles she made for Margaret and Eileen. Madeline sick in bed today. Jim Bevins and wife here.