Neal Jo


My father
(35 years old)
my sister
(14 months old)
and me
(1 week old)

Dad, Sis, Me

My father was a man one could only wish to know. When I was 3 months old, my father was diagnosed with terminal
colon cancer . He grew only weaker and more ill in the next 5 months. He lost weight. He laid in a hospital bed. He made plans for his funeral. He made plans with Mom for his two baby girls' futures. He died on Good Friday.

Over the years my mother (who was married to my father for 2 1/2 years and was 26 when my father died) has told me what she could....or what stands out in a memory after more than 20 years. She also has a "memory box" where I have seen his stories, pictures, transcripts, history....

To start with, he was the only son to his parents and only brother to his two sisters and one half-sister. His father passed away three years previous to his death. These were the last two men in the family to carry on the last name....Dad had no sons. Thus, his mother (now 91) and my sister and I are the last three with his last name.

Dad was a Mechanical Engineer, with a degree from U of WI, Madison. He was a writer and artist in his spare time. He also loved to play basketball and baseball, even though knee problems tried to keep him from playing. He had a quiet and shy personality. He was happy alone, as well as being with friends and family. He had designed and built a home for his first wife and two daughters , in which he put tubes in the concrete floor as a source for hot water heat. He was creative, intelligent, caring, and analytical, among other things....

My father was a good looking man. One thing I know for certain, is that he had a great smile and spirit for life. No one could argue differently from looking at his picture on this page (one of very few that he and I are together in). (Some things you just have to guess about from pictures, and surprisingly, learn from them.)

Growing up, I missed my father very much. At the age of 12 was when I first really felt his absence. My teenage years were years I struggled through, trying to find my identity. In Wisconsin, in 8th grade, I found my love for art and drawing and drafting and designing homes. I also started to play basketball on the school team, even though I struggled with the tendentious in my knees. In 9th grade I joined the softball team also. I also excelled in my math classes. In Minnesota, in 10th grade, I found my love for writing poetry and prose and continued to design homes. In college I became much more analytical. Even though I sometimes had to hold two jobs to pay for my schooling and living costs, I managed to find focus and direction from my studies. I didn't enjoy CLA classes, but enjoyed Chemistry and made it through two full years of Calculus and Physics. I found that I loved Statics, Deformable Body Mechanics, and Dynamics. I also continued to design homes but now with my PC. I declared my major finally my junior year as Civil Engineering. From there I found Structural Engineering quite fascinating, along with Architecture. I applied for an Ellerbe Scholarship my last year of school. I had to write a letter to say what I would be doing after college.....and my vision was that I would be working for an A&E firm where I could do Structural Engineering and also learn about Architecture. I won the $2500 and 8 months later got hired by a national A&E firm (even though I interviewed with counties, construction companies, and small structural engineering firms). The "parent" office of the company I work for is rated number 6 in the nation.

This peace I have found has filled my life with joy and happiness and hope for the future, and I couldn't have achieved any of it without the presence of my father's spirit and God. To them I am grateful, and to them I live for and strive for whatever I find in my heart. On my college graduation day my mother told me that my dad would be proud; her saying that to me meant more to me than almost anything on that day.

DREAMS are only those that fill the spirit with life....and allow GOALS to form. I have many dreams and goals. I am truly my father's daughter. He lives on with me....and God answers prayers!

From your daughter Stephanie Jo

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