For a short period of time, this man was a High School teacher.
Sounds rather mundane.
Of course, he is and has been other things.
For example, he is a World War II Navy veteran. He served on Guadalcanal as an aircraft mechanic taking care of F-4F Wildcats, P-38 Lightnings, P-39 Airacobras and P-40 Warhawks. He also served on the USS Bennington CV-20 in the Pacific.
And he is a father, a husband and I’m sure a good friend to many. No doubt he is many other things, too.
Mr. Schroer — never “Dutch” to us but always “Mr. Schroer” — taught High School Electronics for a short period in the 1960s and that’s where I came under his tutelage.
What is interesting is that Mr. Schroer taught High School for only four years. Before and after that interval, our paths would never have crossed.
I could list dozens of influences and events that led me — that guided me — toward that particular High School and his special class during that specific interval. Absent any of those pushes or put them at a different time or place and our paths would never have crossed.
And I’d be willing to guess he might say the same of the influences in his life. After all, only four years out of a lifetime is really a rather short period. Four years barely registers on the scale when you consider the enormous accumulation of events over a lifetime.
You could say that destiny took a hand.
I believe it did.
In life, we are subject to an enormous number of influences that ultimately propel us in certain directions. Some believe, myself included, that those influences are directed, that they are intended to push us in certain ways, that there is a plan but only if we follow it, only if we comply, only if we allow it to happen.
At the time, I didn’t know I was being pushed. Instead, I knew I was falling. I was on the verge of flunking out of High School. Casting about and with my parent’s desperate support, I found that Mr. Schroer and his Electronics program looked interesting. I also knew that at a different school I might get a fresh start. And that, in combination, perhaps I would be able to graduate High School.
That’s as far as I dared hope.
So I went.
And Franklin D. Schroer unequivocally became my single most influential teacher and role model.
He and I were separately subjected to many things that conspired to bring us together for those two years. And for two years, I listened and learned, and I learned many things that I would not really know for many more years to come. But I had learned them.
After those two years in the 1960s, we had no contact until 2013 when, encouraged by my wife, I walked up to the door of his home and knocked.
And he was there.