After my birth in East Cleveland, Ohio, our blue-collar family moved first to
Ashtabula, Ohio, then back to East Cleveland and finally, when I was five, to
the then truck-farming community of North Olmsted, located about 13 miles
west of Cleveland.
Following graduation from North
Olmsted High School in 1948, I attended
Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio for two years and, after an interim
junior year at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia, I returned to and
graduated from B-W in 1952. After completion of an MS from Kent
State in 1954 and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1957, I held
positions successively at Pennsylvania State University, University of Utah,
University of Illinois and University of Georgia. I retired from UGA in
My family included, in addition to my then wife Barbara, two daughters who were fine students both in secondary school and in college. Kathi, who was instrumental in creating the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, and her husband, Edward Geisler, had two daughters, both college graduates, professionals, and married. Cheryl, married to Lawrence Schumer, has retired from her position as a systems analyst for the Utah State Retirement System.
Pamela, to whom I was married in 1999, and I enjoy the performing and visual arts, intercollegiate athletics, and travel. Her hobbies is creation of stained glass objects and making specially designed cakes.
My hobby, perhaps better described as an obsession, is genealogy in which I became seriously involved in late 1996. My daughter Cheryl, expanding on some excellent work done by one of my aunts, gave me an initial database of about 600 people, a number now over 56,500. The database for Pamela's genealogy numbers over 14,500 individuals. Genealogy is fascinating since it does provide insight to one's background, but it is much richer than that because learning about one's ancestral families also provides considerable information on the times in which they lived. On some occasions one encounters an accomplished individual and on others a rascal, but mostly one learns of people, each with his or her idiosyncracies, having led lives that reflect, as well as define, the societal values and demands of the time.
Thus, genealogy is an accumulation of "small" pictures, or histories, that provides a perspective on the society at large that is not easily obtained from historical works concentrated principally on the political and military aristocracies. Much the way perspectives on war sharply differ between the soldiers in the trenches and the commanding officers, our perspectives on society differ sharply depending upon whether we're dealing with the accumulation of "small" pictures or histories of the "big" picture.
Bill Prokasy, updated 5/20/2008 Return