I left the hospitable confines of Gombak, Malaysia in Oct. 1973. Applied to grad school in Int’l Public Health at Boston U and UNC, Chapel Hill. Got married in June of ’74 and decided to go into the family business – wholesale produce – having not heard from either of the . Honeymooned in Maui and upon our return there was a letter on my desk at work notifying me that UNC grad school starts in 2 weeks. Needless to say, I passed on grad school and opted for business.
Fast forward 31 years to 2005, retired Jan 1, have five wonderful children currently ages of 32, 30, 27, 24 and 22. Youngest son graduated last year from Cornell College in Iowa and is now doing volunteer reconstruction in New Orleans. Oldest daughter is a veterinarian, second daughter is ICU nurse in local hospital – she went into after graduation in 2000 – went to Kazakhstan and had a terrible experience. Came home after 4 months. Locals ran the program – major problem, lots of graft. She was told she would teach nursing students but instead was told by the school director that she would be running an English language club. She was the only PCV in a city of 200,000+ – constantly watched (like a prisoner) and when she complained she was told to ‘grow up’. Long story short, took an early termination and the local PC office rather than debrief her, put her on the first plane back to the US. Her replacement, several months later, was raped by one of the schools teachers. I believe we were really lucky to get her back home when we did.
I Actually joined Rotary locally in late 2001 – my daughter (the Vet) was my sponsor – and got pretty involved in the organization. Our club started an international project in Guatemala in dental care in a couple of villages outside the city of in 2003. Since that first trip which consisted of 9 persons, the project has now expanded to include dental, medical,
construction/electrical, water purification and micro-credit. This year was my 8th trip in the last 5 years and the past 2 years we’ve taken teams of 32 & 30 volunteers respectively. The trips usually last for 8 – 12 days. Served as club president for the 2005-06 year and am currently serving as Administrative Ass’t Gov. for the Northern Oregon/SW Washington district. I don’t know if many of you are very familiar with but it’s a service organization made up primarily of business persons and they’re located in over 120 countries – including Malaysia. Well, out here in rural Newberg/Dundee Oregon (awesome wine country I might ad!) the Rotary world is primarily evangelical-Christian dominated, at least they were til I joined up and brought several of my progressive leaning cohorts into the club, and several of my fellow Rotarians are still trying to figure me out and what I’m up to. I drive a Toyota Prius hybrid and I really get a lot of their goats with my bumper stickers that say things like ‘IMPEACH’, ‘COEXIST’, ‘MY AMERICA DOESN’T TORTURE’ and ‘WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER’ – not exactly your day to day Republican catch phrases. I think a lot of the time I do it just to get a reaction and boy does it work! The current club president owns the local Ford dealership and prior to that he spent 35 years with Ford Corporate! Man, those guys can be really scary with some weird ideas about war & freedom! I actually think I’m making some progress with the guy but it’s definitely a slow go.
Aside from Rotary, I guess I’d have to say the rest of my time is pretty much taken up with an organization called “Thugz Off Drugz”. Catchy name eh? I was started in Oregon about four years ago by a person who lived virtually the first 30+ years of his life in and Arizona as a criminal, alcoholic and meth addict, reached bottom and was able not only to turn his life around but has dedicated his life to working with other recovering addicts to help them turn their lives around. I didn’t say no fast enough so I’m the chair of the state board of directors for the organization. We currently have a men’s house with about 18 persons and a women’s house with 12-14 women and a women & children’s house with about 6 women & children in our county program.
Other than that, retirement has been bely bely good to me.
My hobbies are early Shakesperian literature, spelunking (mostly in caves), subterranean hang gliding, and using the osterizer. If I win I promise to bring world peace to all mankind and a Kurt Vonnegut book in every living room.
Talk to me now!
When I left Malaysia in 1973, I visited Olga in Bangkok. Had a great time. She set up a medical lab in Bangkok’s biggest hospital, a job she really loved. A few years later I heard from her that she had returned home to Boston, and she had cancer. A year and a half after that I got a nice note from Olga’s daughter that Olga had passed away. Sad 😦
I was a 2-time PCV: I taught English in southern Thailand for 2 years. In 1978 I went to Iran to teach English. Left when the Iranian revolution of 1979 was a done deal, before the American embassy was taken hostage. Then I went to Hawaii to get a Masters in ESL. Kevin Palmer was there, as were several other Malaysia and Thailand RPCVs, but not from our group. Kevin got a MPH and MLS (Library Science) and an advanced degree in public health or tropical medicine, I forget. Last I heard, he was working at MMRI in KL.
Gotta go now,
I returned, went back to school to teach young children,
married in ’73, still married to the same guy. We have 3 daughters, ages 33,
30 and 27. The 30 year old is married and they have a daughter who is 4 and
one on the way. I will soon have a new grandson, end of July. My
granddaughter is the joy of my life. I intend to spoil both her and my
grandson. All 3 kids went to college and are doing well in the world of
work. One is getting her phd in August, the married one. How she finds the
time is anyone’s guess.
We live in
and I own an engineering testing lab called Quest Engineering Solutions. We
test customer products that are used in many industries and applications. We
do vibration, shock, thermal, temperature, humidity, audio, airflow,
altitude and environmental testing. We just had a big contract with
Gillette, testing their newest Venus razor. I do sales/admin., he is ceo.
I have worked as a med tech, which I was planning to do as a pcv, but that
didn’t work out as I left early. I have done child care/teaching, emt work,
work with the retarded, and even janitorial work at my Temple. For fun I
sing in choral groups, am a licensed ham radio operator (KB1LSE) doing 2
meters, and I like to decorate. Next month I am having cataract surgery.
Wish me luck……
I hope this little “club” of us “kids”/oldsters keeps going. We may not
really remember one another that well, but having pen pals is still fun.
Best to all,
Gail Litowsky Held
odd jobs, including my favorite all-time job in a waterbed frame&headboard wood shop, and I stumbled upon a graduate school program at the U of Washington where I realized how much I hate school but managed to survive and get a Masters in Marine Affairs (i.e., fisheries management) … Next stop, Alaska, where I worked for three years trying to help Eskimo fishermen on the earn a little more money for their fishing effort … And as everyone knows, that’s the best way to catapult oneself to a Legislative Assistant’s job on Capitol Hill – with Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski (quite egotistical, stupid, and ineffective), but I was somehow attracted to the job, and there was an opening, and he was up for re-election, and needed to pretend like he gave a shit about fish and fishermen… I stuck around through the election (he won, unfortunately) and I bailed out and headed back to Alaska, to work for a Representative in the State Legislature … Now, this guy was the quintessential politician: He didn’t care which side of the aisle he was on, he just like running for office….I lasted one session with him, and was ready to quit the ‘real world’ and settled in to help an old guy build a boat…. Once again, lots of physical work and lots of fun … Lots of good people in Port Townsend so I stayed there for about 10 years (a record), steeped in the boat world, got a captain’s license, and next found myself as the skipper of a 65′ sailboat at a summer camp on not far from the British Columbia boarder…there I set the record for ‘longest employment’ (7 years) and remembered how much I like to be silly and have fun… Alas, all good things must end, so I packed up and flew to NZ and AUS for several months of driving on the wrong side of the road… Started to get reinspired about sailing, sailboats and kids and when I got back to the US I decided to move to California and see if I could start a program to rehabilitate kids on parole and probation using the basic principles of sail-training. (read all about it: www.youthsailtraining.org) … So after driving I-5 from Seattle to San Diego for two years, scouting out the possibilities, I ‘settled’ (?) in Sausalito a couple of months ago and am working for a sail-training organization that wouldn’t mind trying out my ideas if I can make it happen www.callofthesea.org… So far it hasn’t happened, but, Hey, I just got here! … I missed the boat on lasting relationships and kids, careers, a home, and any kind of stability in life, but have lots of friends, and seem to be doing well with my fated lifestyle… I must give the PC credit for springing me loose from the previous 10 years of academic hell and alien family (I’m from a different planet) and introducing me to a world of new possibilities and all you great PC volts…It was the first step on my long winding road…. Cheers, Doug.to be done with the PC when my two years was up, and moved to Singapore to help some Yanks build a 50′ cement schooner… much physical work and fun until I realized none of us really knew what we were doing…After a few months, found a boat sailing back to the US and went to Bali to check it out … The deal went sour, but Bali was good for three months of smoking weed and surfing … That led to the inspiration to visit college friends who were living on a ‘hippy farm’ in Oregon, outside of Eugene, so I hitchhiked from NY to OR and enjoyed the hippy life for about three years… Needed to get back to the water so tried working on a salmon troller in OR, but after three weeks of throwing up I decided Seattle would be a good place to recover … Three years of
OK. Lots of twists and turns since Malaysia. I didn’t find anything nearly as
interesting as PC when I returned and then the chance to go to Ethiopia and
work on smallpox eradication presented itself. I was living in DC when Mike
stopped by on his way back to Malaysia for his third year — I accompanied
him to PC HQ where he wanted to talk with people who had helped him with
some admin issues, and I wound up at the Africa desk where they were
recruiting for public health programs in a few places and offered to sign me
Ethiopia was mostly a medieval empire at the time — I was there for a year
(1973-74) looking for fresh smallpox cases and vaccinating around them in
high plateau and canyon country. It is such a sad, sad story how things
unraveled with drought, famine, and then revolution and civil war. PCVs were
allowed to stay but also encouraged to leave if we wanted to go somewhere
else with PC or get on with a next phase otherwise. By then I realized I was
interested in learning about the stories behind the amazing landscapes in
places like East Africa and the Himalayas (Malaysia vacation).
So I looked for a place tucked in the mountain west with a school and moved
to Moscow, ID in 1975 and started taking classes there at the U of Idaho.
I very much liked the area, met my first wife there, got an MS in geology,
worked for a bit, went back for a PhD with an interest in geothermal energy in
1980. It gets a little complicated — I finished courses and exams but the
funding for geothermal reseach was pulled early in the Reagan administration.
So we moved to western Nebraska where I got a job (research and service
focused on groundwater problems) with the NE Geological Survey. The marriage
came undone, Scottsbluff didn’t really feel like home, and then I had a chance
for a new start in Laramie, WY after wrapping up my PhD based on some of the
work I had done with the NE Survey.
Also since the wanderlust had not really left I got the chance to lead treks in
Nepal every couple of years for an adventure travel company. My then future
and now current wife, Kris, came along on one of these and then there wasn’t
too much scary left to learn about each other after trekking in Nepal and
traveling together in India, Bangladesh, and Thailand.
For a variety of reasons we moved to Boise in 1989 to seek our fortunes there
(here — home now). Nick was born in 1992. Kris worked at H-P
designing printers until taking early retirement last year. She’s still decompressing
a bit but also getting back into her interest in plants and landscaping for
conservation and local bird habitat. I started out working for the state on a
new program for independent monitoring of the DOE nuclear site in eastern Idaho.
But I moved over to Boise State University in 1993 when the politics got too
unpleasant. I mostly do research in groundwater but also sometimes teach and
work with students. Nick is now 16, halfway through high school, starting to
think about about college, beats me badly in golf, has good friends… I’m
starting to think about retiring — at least from the soft-money research
There’s probably something I’m leaving out but maybe it’s time for a break.
I got back in the summer of 1973 after traveling
for about 10 months in Asia, Africa, and
Europe…Somehow, got in graduate school as a
provisional student at William & Mary and started
there in the fall (my undergraduate record wasn’t all
that good). After getting a graduate degree there, I
got a job there in student housing and in 1979, took
another college housing job in Dayton, Ohio, at the
Univ. of Dayton. Worked there for 4 and 1/2 years and
moved to northwest PA. Didn’t like the area all that
much but stayed there a long time – finishing up a PhD
while there from the Univ. of Pittsburgh.
Not long after that, a new VP was appointed in
charge of my area (at Clarion Univ. of PA.) and I knew
there would be problems…He was the VP of Advancement
and we had had a few runins..He kept that job and was
also put in charge of student affairs. 2002 and 2003
were rough years as the parts of my job that I liked
were taken away and the parts that I was given were
things I didn’t care for. So at the age of 53, I
started another degree program and got another
graduate degree (my 4th). At the ripe old age of 55,
I got a leave of absence, left my job, and finally got
married for the first time.
Then, on the day I returned from my honeymoon in
New Mexico, I was offered a job in Virginia – where I
currently reside and will retire.
The woman I married, Diane, has two children from
another marriage – one living in North Carolina and
one in Pennsylvania. Sara in North Carolina is a
children’s librarian and Josh is trying to make a go
of it organizing music concerts.
Over the years, I visited with Mike Caruso, Doug, Gary, Linda, and Tom and attended Joy’s wedding. I also heard occasionally from Warren in recent years.
I have been back to Malaysia 3 times. The first
was to try to recuit students from Malaysia. At one
time the largest international group at Clarion was
from Malaysia. I briefly served as international
student advisor also while at Clarion. Malaysian
students helped me keep up Bahasa Malaysia. Then, in
1997, I was flown back to Malaysia to interview for a
job there with the Malaysian American Commission on
Educational Exchange. Didn’t get the job (an American
muslim got it), but at least I got a free paid trip
back. Finally, I went back last summer for the 50th
annivesary national celebrations. About 16 former
PCVs attended and Malaysia put on quite a show —
lots of fireworks, parades, etc. I currently serve as
President of a group called Friends of Malaysia –
which consists of former Peace Corps Volunteers.
Check out the website at: http://www.friendsofmalaysia.org .
It was a great time and I would gladly say more,
but have proabably gone on too long. I’ve been
fortunate to have had some great travel opportunities
in my life. In fact, I have taken a number of trips
with fellow group 28er – Tom Sebastian – Nepal,
France, Portugal, etc…..Barry
In my spare time I like to camp and garden outdoors, do origami and play scrabble indoors. I am an active lay leader in Unitarian Universalism and serve on the board of Legal Assistance for Seniors. I have a 21 year old daughter who is a stylist in Manhattan and a 2 year old butter-doodle (part poodle, part butterball turkey).
Prayerdame? It’s a joke from a group of friends…
Nice to be in touch with you all….
That’s right: I was the CIA plant in Grp 28. You were my assignment.
Even though Allen Dulles promised President Kennedy that none would penetrate his idealistic youth corps, he lied. We were all over the place.
Only Suzie Morris caught on. I nearly dropped my drawers when she said, in one of our group sessions with Leo Moss regarding that issue: “If it’s anyone, I suspect him!” (-Pointing to moi.) Well, I thought it was over… and that I’d be on the next flight back to Langley. But, as it turned out, she was just taking a very good guess.
OK. Conscious cleared. Just regard me as one of the unsung heroes that allowed you people to lead the decadent life in the ‘burbs that you now enjoy. Burn, baby burn!! (Oil products, that is.)
Anyway, I was assigned to the Public Health Institute in KL and had to extend another ½ yr. to finish the semester. So, in 1973, I was finally home again after a long journey across the Pacific. I think I ran into Doug Humes in Singapore on my way… In a boat, of course (same one he’s living in now in Sausalito, probably). He, too, was preparing for some oceanic journey.
Saw Gary Smith a couple of time when I got home as we both lived in upstate NY… He did graduate work at the U. of Rochester – in his back yard – and then disappeared into the firmament… as did we all. (He married a Greek so,we know he’s eating well.)
So, to cut to the quick… Went to a Jesuit grad school in Connecticut to learn the propaganda techniques of Goebbels, the Communist Information Bureau, etc. My aim was the Foreign Service, but that takes years to cut thru the tape and wait out their investigations of what it was I was smoking in KL so, in the meantime, did some International Tours to perfect my language skills.
I ran into M. Caruso at his grocery store along the Oregon Coast. He was so delighted with the windfall stop and all these rich foreigners, that he couldn’t take his eyes off the cash register. Conversation was… well, Ka-ching!! Glad I made his day!
I ran into Doug again, during the same job, while traveling through Seattle. He was living in a house (in the socialist section of the city) that reminded me of his digs in Gombak — one tiny light for the whole house! He mentioned that Mike Wax was recently in town doing his medical residency or internship.
Got into the State Dept in 1981 (I was a plant there, too). While I stayed 20 years, I did drop out a few times from bureaucratic/travel boredom and, among other things, joined a monastery à la Thomas Merton. (Guilt, probably, for all the people I had to ‘take out’ for God and country.) Ran into Humes again in DC when he was working for a socialist Alaskan Senator. While there, I bugged the office. (Right in front of ol’ Dougie! — Stuck the ‘bug’ right under his desk while we were talking! — But let’s face it, Doug and I remained at least somewhat true to the PC spirit. He lives in a boat and I’m homeless* – Small Carbon Footprints! You others should be ashamed of yourselves! Every time you start that lawnmower you kill a frog! Yeah, yeah… 35 cars…).
On one of my many passes through Minneapolis, I called the Greg Cross residence. His wife said he was out delivering pizza(!) (OH WELl… Shoulda’ studied harder there, Craig!)
Karen Eng worked for a while in Wellesley, Mass and then (and now, I presume) as a stockbroker/finance type in Oakland/Walnut Creek, CA. Never saw her, but we spoke on the phone.
Got bored again and did some car racing in Europe, of all things. On my way back from one of these excursions, I ran into M. Wax on the domestic leg of the journey. He couldn’t recognize me, but as soon as I saw him saunter up the aisle, I knew I had my man. (The Agency trained us to use a person’s gait as the sure sign of identity. Try it! That never changes on a person!) He and his physician wife and children – two at that time – are living/practicing medicine in Short Hills, NJ.
Got bored again and wrote a book combining the two, racing and meditation.**
Barry made the mistake of telling me where he lives… So now he and his wife get to see me twice a year (even when they’re not in the mood.). I tend to migrate up and down the East Coast ‘were the weather suits my clothes’. And, when I can afford it, N. Italy and the Rivera. (During my racing days, I even lived in Monaco!) Barry got so sick of my stories about all the women I knocked off at Harvard (one of the many gov’t-sponsored, in-service programs that you people paid for), that he, single-handedly, came up with a working title of my autobiography: The Greatest Bullshit Artist of the 20th Century, which has possibilities. (But it was all true, Barry; I was quite a randy fellow in my day.)
There are more juicy items – like my acting career — but I’m getting bored (again).***
Leave it at this: I am now one of the drooling old fools I used to annoy when I was a kid. I keep repeating/laughing at the same jokes that are new to me at every telling.
But let me leave you with this juicy tidbit. That photo of us on P.Pangkor that is being passed around? I – and only I – know the most interesting aspect about it: Like – Who was sleeping with whom! Yes!! I know where all the bodies are buried! (Remember: I was a spy AND a peeping Tom)****
Ha! Got your interest!! Now, for a fee, I will ‘draw the appropriate arrows’ on the photo…
Most of you are probably too old to remember your youthful indiscretions so, you would honestly be able to say, He’s lying!! — and avoid some of the ensuing embarrassment.
OK… First $600 gets the goods!
Bio: Stayed on a 3rd year in Malaysia, then traveled home via Thailand, Burma and India. Wanted to try to get into medical school, so gave up my dream at the time of traveling in Indonesia, Burma, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. Went to Medical School at Northwestern in Chicago, Family Practice Residency in Coumbus, Georgia (where I married my wife Sharon). Since then I’ve lived and practiced in Oakland, MD, a town of 3,000 in Appalachian Maryland. It’s been a good place to live and raise kids (two boys now out of college and working), six state parks and lots of other recreation areas, a lake to play on and ski slopes within 20min. We’ve traveled a good bit for pleasure, but as I contemplate retirement, I hope to do some short-term volunteer work again.
I was so surprised to hear from you. It started me thinking back to my Peace Corps days. As for me, I am committed to professional public health – have two Master’s degrees – one in public health (from San Jose State University) and one in public administration (from the University of Southern California (USC). I have been working for the California Department of Public Health for more than 25 years in various capacities. I got married for the first time eleven years ago to Stan Rosenstein, who is Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Health Care Services. He oversees a $37 billion budget which primarily covers California’s Medicaid Budget (Medi-Cal). I have two grown stepchildren (boys). We live in Davis, California.
I’ve been active in various community organizations – ACLU, NOW, Jewish Federation, American Public Health Association.
Keep in touch and I look forward to communicating more with you.