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Background Of The Authors

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Know Your Authors
Roger Rasmussen
John Thurston
Jack Blackburn
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Resume of John R. Thurston
______Education : Graduated Altoona High School (Altoona,
Wisconsin),1942; Bachelor of Arts degree (Psychology) Phi Beta Kappa, U of Wisconsin-Madison
1949; Master of Arts degree in Psychology, U of Wisconsin-Madison 1950; Doctor of Philosophy
(Clinical Psychology) U. of Iowa 1953)
_____ Military Service World War II, U.S. Navy 1943-46 Signalman
Mostly destroyer duty in the N. Pacific (Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Russia's Sea of Okhotsk,
Japanese Kurile Islands) One battle star
Professional Experience Full time
Clinical Psychologist, Veterans Admin Hosp. Madison, Wis
Chief Psychologist Eau Claire Co. Guidance Clinic Eau Claire, Wis
1957-58 Assistant to Full Professor of Psychology University of Wis.-Eau Claire 1958-87(Retired)
Part-time Principal Investigator, Eau Claire Youth Study (Eau Claire)1958-1972; Principal
Investigator, Nursing Education Research (Eau Claire) 1959-71; Clinical Psychologist Northwest
Psychiatric Clinic (Eau Claire) 1973-1984; Clinical Psychologist Private Practice 1984-1990
Writings and Publications
More than 60 research articles, pamphlets, and books of professional nature (1953-
Horse Racing Psychology Book 1987. Co-author Betty J. Thurston
Muses, Music, and More Book 1998. Co-author Nancy Clark Scobie
Primarily Poetry, Pithograms, and Pictures... But a Little Bit More Book 1999.Co-author
Nancy Clark Scobie
Meandering With Mariah Book 2000. Co-author Nancy Clark Scobie
A Provocative Potpourri of Poetry, Pithograms, Prose, and Pretty Pictures Book 2000.
Co-author Nancy Clark Scobie.
Purposeful Pithograms Book. 2002
Sharpening Shadows Book 2002, Co-author Nancy Clark Scobie
Sides Seldom Seen: A Novella Book 2004. Co-author Nancy Clark Scobie
A Very Full Circle A compilation of Thurston's writings.2004
Contributions to Poetica Grandma-tica 2004, Poetica Grandma-tica 2005, Poetica Grandma-tica
2006-2007, Poetica Grandma-tica 2007-2008, Poetica Grandma-tica 2008-2009,Poetica Grandma-tica,
2009-2010. Editors: Bredeson and Scobie.
__________It Took Two To Tangle: A Rape Explored Book 2005
Nuts and Bolts 2006: Mostly Nuts A compilation of Thurston's 2006 writings.
The Way of a Reluctant Warrior in WW II A review of wartime navy career of
Thurston. 2006
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Nuts and Bolts 2007: Mostly Nuts A compilation of 2007 writings by Thurston
The Way of a Reluctant Warrior in WW II: An Addendum Additional material
regarding Thurston's wartime navy career 2007
The Old Altoona Public School: A Collection of Memories Book 2008 Memories of those
attending this school before 1951 fire
Grandma Had Her "Say" ------------and She Said a Lot Booklet 2008
Jesse Jensen, Principal, Coach, Teacher, Altoona Public School, 1921-1943
Booklet Hoyt and Thurston 2008
A Star-crossed Venture: Contributions to The Altoona Star, Altoona, Wisconsin
2007-2009 Booklet 2009
The Red Caboose, A Collection of Altoona, Wisconsin Memories Blackburn, Rasmussen,
and Thurston Book 2009
Miscellaneous writings: Booklets: Ago-ing (how to write memoirs), Expressions of
Gertrude McCluskey (a tribute to Thurston's grandmother), Naval World War II Slang; Past
Imperfect, The First 50 Years (an unpublished autobiography), newspaper columns (St. Paul Pioneer
Press; The Altoona Star), letters to editors, thousands of Pithograms ("thoughts and matters of
substance in written form").
Recreational pursuits:
Writing, landscape art (a geoglyph of an angel called "Angelhazel," "Alex, the Wonder Underdog"
These could only be seen from air),stock car track ownership, dog/horse racing, travel (I have visited
48 National Parks, Africa 4 times, China twice and 6 of the 7 continents), tree farms, baby seals and
polar bears, humane societies, speeches, preservation of historical sites, excessive recreational TV
viewing, exploring the Internet, research into patient attitudes and doctor/patient relationships, and
John R. Thurston, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist Professor Emeritus of Psychology (U. Of
Wisconsin-Eau Claire) 3752 Cummings Street, Eau Claire, Wisconsin 54701
(715.832.34) Up-dated 10.04.09
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Biography of Roger Rasmussen
Roger was born June 18, 1936, the 2nd son, 3rd child of Alfreda and
Percy Rasmussen. Moving frequently within Altoona as the family
increased in size, he lived in 7 different homes before age 18; thus, his
familiarity with the geography, backyards, garden spots, apple trees, and
homes of so many residents is an outgrowth of his root-less-ness.
His siblings all attended k-12 at Altoona schools. His father Percy
held more than a dozen different jobs and his mother Alfreda worked as a
cook/waitress at five different restaurants. He remembers the names and
particulars of every one of his elementary, high school and college
teachers; they, along with some significant Altoona residents helped
develop a philosophy of living and teaching that has contributed to his
continued active involvement in education and community service.
Currently he serves on three foundation boards/commissions/committees
and for the past 45 years has been actively engaged in some aspect of
teacher development, most recently, and for the past 14 years, since his
second retirement, he works at UW-River Falls supervising student
teachers. Both his late wife Dixie and daughter Amy Canniff were his
students and both have had 25 year teaching careers. When not traveling
with his three teenage grandsons on the railroad, or attending athletic
events, he is a hospice/bereavement volunteer for Health Partners of
Minnesota. Roger has written for professional publications, written poetry
for more than 30 years, contributed articles to the late Altoona Star,
provided articles for publications by his second cousin Dr. John Thurston,
and Roger has served as a board member and president of professional
educational organizations in Minnesota. He attributes his zest for living,
learning, and writing to his mentors Mary Martin, Darrell Woodington,
Edward Semisch, and Emma Leland.
The stories included in this publication for which Roger takes sole
credit are a composite of his perceptions, contributions and stories made
by 100's of Altoona residents, and from his own 73 years of experience as
an interactive participant in effective daily living. While the "Serenity
Prayer" has guided his daily life, "The Beatitudes" have helped him
become................................ He is especially interested in developing an
Altoona Historical Society.
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At age 73 and counting, the writer was poised and posed after having
visited the Chippewa Valley Historical Museum at Carson Park in Eau
Claire and after serving as a chauffeur for a friend who was about to
celebrate the 60th class reunion of Eau Claire Memorial High School class
of 1949. Driving through the streets of Altoona, Eau Claire, and the town of
Seymour brought a renewed awakening of how wonderful it was to live
during an era when the sight of an airplane was rare and awesome and the
sound of a steam engine with whistle and steam grunting itself up the steep
incline from Drummonds Meat Packing to Altoona quickened your
heartbeat. Too, it removed all doubt about the good-life as a railroader, and
helped you better to understand the value of silence as cure for a
teenager's troubled emotions prior to entering the adult world. In reflection,
the journey was well worth the troubles, trials, tribulations, wrinkles and
receding hairline. I felt at peace at this moment.
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Biographical Sketch
Jack Blackburn
What I am attempting to do here is to present a snapshot of my background as it was in
2002. After some thought, I have decided to do this in a rather “conversational style”
rather than a strict chronological ordering of events. Chronological order is nigh unto
impossible anyway, as so many things happened more or less simultaneously; and as is
so common to all of us, my memory fails me at times. At the end of the “2002 snapshot”
I will add some more information that will bring us up to 2009 – The Red Caboose
publication date.
I was born in Denver, Colorado on April 24, 1941 and in a few years I moved with my
family to the great plains of Northeastern Colorado. This rural area was, and is,
sparsely populated and isolated. My early years (under the tutelage of my father) gave
me patience, persistence and the ability to deal with adversity. Over time I gained the
confidence to undertake tough problems and not quit until the job is done.
After graduating with a BS Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of
Wyoming in 1963; I took a job at Collins Radio Co. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for about two
years before starting my career at 3M Company in 1965. Twenty-four years later, in the
fall of 1989, I resigned my position at 3M. The early part of my career at 3M was as a
Technical Service Engineer in what was then known as the Magnetic Products Division.
This involved working with various companies that were developing new magnetic
recording devices in order for 3M to supply the magnetic media necessary to make the
systems work.
A few years later I was privileged to find myself doing early development work on the
Philips Compact Audio Cassette which came to be known simply as a “Cassette”.
Today we all have a bunch of them -- in shoe boxes, in our cars, or lost in some dark,
out of the way place. What a wonderful invention -- what joy and beautiful music was
made available; even in the most unlikely places. And, oh yes, the same cassettes
have driven boom boxes and car stereos that we often find in the hands of the teen-
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agers that live in the house next door.
While all this was going on I was also starting a family. I married Joan in 1966, and to
this union was born a daughter named Kathy the following year; and a son, Larry in
1971. This marriage officially came to an end in 1994 although, as is usually the case, it
was over long before then. The intervening years, none the less, were eventful. Years
later my son asked me, “Dad, what did you do every night after work when Kathy and I
were growing up? You never went out bowling or out drinking with the guys from work.
You came home every night, just like clock-work; what did you do?” After some
thought, I told him that most of my evenings were spent in the basement work-shop;
repairing the “collateral damage” of the day. These things might include: removing a toy
that got stuck in the toaster, straightening the wheel of a tricycle that he had bent that
day by running it full speed into the concrete-block wall of the basement (just to see
what would happen) -- his mother had already taken care of bandaging the scrape on
his forehead and the busted knuckles of his right hand. Then there were Kathy’s dolls
that could never stand the strain of daily living with her. I got the first hint of one
particularly traumatic incident as Kathy met me in the garage when I got home from
work. It was the day after Christmas and her new doll had lost its head -- literally! She
was near hysterics, and could only be calmed by the words that “I could fix it.” I
reminded Larry that his laughter at the sight of the headless doll did not help matters.
That night I tried every adhesive that 3M had ever manufactured in an attempt to keep
the head on that doll. The doll was made of a material that was supposed to feel “just
like a baby’s skin” and nothing would adhere to it. After several failed attempts at trying
to persuade my daughter that this doll might need to be put on the shelf and admired,
rather than played with -- I took the brute force approach. Two sheet metal screws, one
stove bolt with nut and washers and several short pieces of wire rendered the head and
the body inseparable. It wasn’t pretty but it got the job done. This, by the way, could
also be said about much of the work I did as an Engineer at 3M.
Early in the year of 1979 another “opportunity” came into my life and our family. This
was a little girl named Debby; three and a half years old. Up until then she had seen
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nothing but trouble and we made a choice to do what we could to improve her lot in life.
Kathy and Larry taught her the ropes as only older siblings can do while my wife and I
did everything that was necessary to add stability and consistent love to her home-life.
We had the honor of seeing her graduate from High School and successfully go out into
the world and make her own way in life.
My resume states that from 1973 to 1982 I was a Senior Product and Process Engineer.
It was during these years that I found myself working on one, and possibly more,
projects with Bob Bancroft. I believe that during 24 years at 3M Bob was the only
person that I was able to work with over an extended period of time without having a
major disagreement.
From 1982 to 1987 I was a Process Development Specialist in 3M’s ES&T Laboratory.
This is an Engineering Lab that gets primarily involved in Process Research and
Development for all of the company’s divisions. It was here that I found myself involved
with such things as Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Industrial Robotics and
Artificial Intelligence. I had an intense personal desire to see Artificial Intelligence make
a major industry wide impact because I hadn’t been doing exceptionally well with the
natural kind.
I spent the last two years of my career in the Industrial Abrasives Division. I guess one
could say that as I departed 3M in the fall of 1989 I was an “abrasive engineer.”
I spent the next year and a half settling my parent’s estate (they had both died in 1988)
and catching up on the many things I never seemed to have time to do when I was
working a full time job. It was only then that I began to grieve the loss of my parents -- I
found that it was possible to postpone it and it was not possible to never grieve at all.
I now owned my family’s agribusiness in Colorado and I leased it to my uncle who
farmed it along with his own sizeable operation. I began spending several weeks each
summer in Colorado driving a huge combine as we harvested acres and acres of wheat.
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The temperatures were always over 100 degrees out in those fields, so after all the
wheat was cut I would leave the air-conditioned comfort of the combine cab and head
for the high country of the Colorado Rockies to cool off a little bit. I loved the mountains
and the fishing and hiking and the pure joy of spending my children’s inheritance.
In the spring of 1994 I joined a team of about 50 North Americans as we traveled to
Romania. This was with the International School Project and this project is involved
with conducting four-day Teacher Training Convocations in Russia and other countries
that were part of the former Soviet Union. During these convocations the Romanian
teachers learned how to use a curriculum entitled “Christian Ethics and Morality: A
Foundation for Society.” We did the conference once in Bucharest then moved on to
Craiova the next week and repeated it there. The next spring, 1995, I went again -- this
time to Chishinev, Moldova. I cannot begin to tell you what these trips did to me, for me
and in me -- part of my heart is still there.
On December 12, 1995 I met Sandy for the first time. We had been referred to each
other through a dating service called “Together”; which is now defunct, although I don’t
think we in anyway caused that. I picked her up for lunch in the lobby of the law office
where she worked. It wasn’t until a few minutes later, when we were seated across a
table from one another, that I began to take in what was before me. She was wearing
this dark green Notre Dame sweatshirt, her hair was rather short and really cute, and
the depth of her brilliant blue eyes seemed to have no end. We were married in
October of 1996 and I still look into her eyes every chance I get. Try it yourself some
time, then you will know what I’m talking about. Sandy spent her early years on the
east side of St. Paul, across the street from the old Harding High School -- most of her
adult years in and around Stillwater.
We have lived in Little Canada about two years and our children are scattering all over
the world. My daughter Kathy, husband Carl, and 5 children under 11 years of age, live
in Poland and are actively involved in missionary work there. My son Larry works at
Intel near Sacramento, CA and was married to Brookes in January of this year. As an
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added bonus, two children (ages 5 and 6) also came into our family with this marriage.
Sandy’s youngest daughter, Courtney, is finishing up a degree in Elementary Education
at Winona State. Her son Mike and his wife Teri have three young and growing boys
and live near Lake Elmo, Minnesota. Sandy’s daughter Yvette and her husband (who’s
name is also Mike) have three children and are expecting another. Sandy’s oldest
daughter, Bridgette, lives in the Netherlands with her husband, Arjen. So if you are
doing the math right, here are some of the statistics.
Sandy and I have 7 children living on 2 contents. At last count there are 13
grandchildren. We have 3 adults and 5 children that are trying to learn to speak either
Dutch or Polish.
And the Adventure goes on…
Sandy and I moved to Altoona from St. Paul, Minnesota in April of 2006. We were both
retiring and could have lived anywhere in the world. We spent more than a year looking
at homes in the areas of the Twin Cities, Menomonie and Eau Claire. As time went on
we came up with a rather specific, although brief, “recipe” of what we were looking for.
The ingredients were woods, water and a college town (for the culture and coffee
shops). Our home at 911 N Moonlight Drive met those requirements. We are grateful
to Joe and Shirley Rossano for building the house 40 years before we even heard of
Altoona and the lake of the same name. And thank God (literally) every day for the
privilege of living here.
Also, since the “2002 snapshot” Mike and Yvette added a child to their family in 2002
and our family living in the Netherlands grew by one in 2004. Courtney moved to
Colorado Springs and our family living in Poland moved to the Twin Cities for about a
year then moved to Hong Kong late in 2009 (except their oldest son – now a freshman
at the University of Minnesota).
So, doing the math one more time: Sandy and I have 7 children living on 3
continents. At last count there are 15 grandchildren. We have 3 adults and 5
children that have learned to speak either Dutch or Polish. And, oh yes, everybody
speaks English in Hong Kong.