My full name is Marcus John Horning, Jr., but my parents called me John so that’s what I go by. I am the son of Marcus John Horning and Marilyn Elizabeth Pinckston. You can learn a bit about them here, and find more of my family history at FamilySearch.org.
I will be using a timeline format to list important events in my life. Unfortunately, it leaves out many details, but it’s a start. I’ll try to add more over time.
So here goes…
August 2, 1952 – Born at Timken Mercy Hospital in Canton, Ohio.
Aug 1952 through Sep 1970 – Lived with my parents on a dairy farm in Randolph Township, Portage County, Ohio.
1953/4 – I don’t remember this, but my mother tells me and many others that I would say “Iss code ou’ dare!” (it’s cold out there), with the emphasis on “code”, when dad would come inside on cold winter days. I also said “ner prayer” for manure spreader. How cute is that! lol
Summer 1957 – borrowed a small bicycle I found at the Wise Farm during a Farm Bureau picnic and taught myself how to ride it. I think it was at least a year later that my dad purchased a bike for me. I remember it being black with balloon tires. He set it outside the house so I’d see it when I got home from school. I didn’t know he was watching from the distance as I got off the bus and walked toward the house. I noticed the bike immediately, knew it was for me, and was very excited, but decided to delay my gratification and walked right by it. After taking care of some things inside the house, I returned to examine the bike closely. My dad told me later that he was concerned (and disappointed I’m sure) that I had walked right by the bike.
1957/8 – attended half-day Kindergarten class at Randolph school. The main thing I remember about Kindergarten is finger-painting, and laying our heads down on the desks for a brief nap time.
Sept 1958 – began attending St. Joseph Elementary School in Suffield, Ohio. Because I was listed as “Marcus” on the school rolls — and because I didn’t have the nerve to correct my first grade teacher the first time she did roll call — I was known as Marcus throughout grade school and high school, giving me a dual identity. I finally reverted to “John” in college.
I was always a good student, but was shy and had few friends. I had to deal with bullies at times. At one point my mother intervened because of 3 or 4 boys were regularly taunting me after lunch at school.
Early 1960’s – My parents got a hamster for us kids and I built a cage for it out of wood, chicken wire, and sheet metal. It had a slide-out drawer on the bottom. My parents seemed to be impressed and said it was a “milestone” for me.
Sept 1966 – began attending St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Louisville, Ohio. The boys and girls were separated into the east and west sides of the school. We could meet up in the gym and cafeteria which were in the middle.
1968/69 – decided I wanted to build a mini-bike. I found or purchased most of the parts, but my Uncle Bill, who was a welder, did most of the work in putting it together and making it work.
1969/70 – Signed up for the Metal-Working class at St. Thomas, which was unusual becase most of my classmates were taking “college-prep” classes, which excluded any of the trades, but I wanted to learn more about it. As a final project for the course, and with encouragement from the teacher, I decided to build another mini-bike, this time all by myself. I used plans found in the June 1967 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine (see below). I used many of the same parts from the original mini-bike, and the frame from my first bicycle.
June 1970 – graduated from St. Thomas and began working for Timken Co. in Canton as part of a Co-op program with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (aka Virginia Tech or VPI). Starting pay was just over $3/hour, which was considered very good at the time for someone my age with limited education and experience.
The drive from the farm in Randolph to Timken on the south side of Canton took about 40 minutes as I recall. On my first day, I got lost and ended up at the company’s Roller Bearing offices on Dueber Ave. instead of the Steel & Tube offices on Harrison Ave.
On the second day, I went to the right office but was a little late again. In those days, they were very strict about arriving on time. We had to “punch in” (have the date and time stamped on to a card) upon arrival so there was a permanent record of your tardiness if you arrived after 8:00 am. My supervisor, Charlie Zima, felt he needed to nip my bad habit in the nub, so called me into his office shortly after I arrived, and made it clear that tardiness was not tolerated. From then on I made it a point to leave for work at least 10 minutes earlier, and was very rarely late ever again.
August 1970 – purchased my first car – a blue Volkswagen Beetle, aka “bug” – 1966 or 67 model year I believe. I believe I paid $800 which was a lot of money at time, and likely a bit over-priced.
Sept 1970 – I drove by myself to Blacksburg, VA to begin attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (aka Virginia Tech). This was a very difficult time for me due to homesickness. During the first quarter of school, I returned home at least 3 times. We also met up once in Parkersburg, West Virginia where we stayed at a Holiday Inn over a weekend. The hotel was visible from the West Virginia Turnpike, and for the remainder of my college career, I would look longingly toward the hotel every time I passed by.
To earn some money, and keep me busy (and help me develop some friendships), I got a job at one of the on-campus dining halls as a dishwasher. Pay was $1.65/hour. It was easy to start the job up again every time I returned to school. I did this every quarter except the last year.
Late March 1971 – returned to Ohio to work for Timken during the Spring quarter as part of the co-op program. From then through the Spring of 1974, I rotated between Ohio and Virginia. The Winter and Summer seasons were spent attending school at Virginia Tech, and Spring and Fall were spent in Ohio working. This schedule suited me well. Three months was just long enough to stay in one place before I was ready for a change.
When attending school, I always stayed in a dormitory on campus, unlike many students who found apartments off-campus. The dorm rooms were very small accomodating only 2 people in each. There was a bunk bed, a sink, 2 desks, and 2 closets. Living in this setting definitely took some adjustment. I have both happy and unhappy memories of living in the dormitories. It was oftentimes very loud with talking and music. It was especially disturbing if the guys in the adjacent room happenned to have a stereo system with large speakers in their closet. Since the closets were placed back to back with only plywood separating the rooms at that point, it could be a bit unnerving and very difficult to to homework, which I had a lot of — typically around 3 hours per day as I recall.
Being quiet and shy, I did not mingle easily with the other boys on the floor, and I felt quite lonely at times. Early on, I was introduced to Ralph who lived off-campus in a mobile home. He was only 21 years old, but seem much older than me (I had just turned 18). He welcomed me on weekends and I was grateful to have a place to go. It turned out, however, that he was homesexual, and a bit of a predator. He would offer wine as we watched TV. Sometimes others were there, but on one visit we were alone and he tried to fondle me. This happend a number of times before I finally stopped visiting him, although we still communicated occasionally. In my Junior year, our relationship finally ended for good when my $300 Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator was stolen and I stongly suspected him.
Generally, I was assigned a roommate, but as time went along, I made a few friends, and was able to room with them. The first friend that I roomed with was Steve Krawczel (probably incorrect spelling). He was my age and was majoring in political science. He was very tall which made us an interesting pair. I even took him home to Ohio with me once for a holiday weekend (Thanksgiving I believe). I remember how he hurt my feelings when one day when he expressed regret that he hadn’t accomplished much so far in his college career, but then added that he had at least done more than me. I was very quiet for the next few hours and he couldn’t understand why.
Another roomate was Kevin. He was a year younger than me, was studying geology and had a collection of rocks. I especially remember the trilobite fossils. I called him “rock man”.
Summer 1971 – had my very first date. It was with a girl who was also working as dishwasher at school. I vaguely remember a movie and pizza (or the other way around), but that was it.
Throughout much of my time in college, I worked part-time on designing and building a 3-wheeled ATV. This was to be a successor of sorts to the minibike. It had 3 balloon tires and a bucket seat. The front wheel rotated freely while each rear wheel was controlled independently using variable-speed pulleys. The pulleys were purchased new from a John Deere dealer, but were intended for a riding lawn mower. The 3 hp Briggs & Stratton engine on my minibike was replaced with a much bigger 10 hp engine. When I finally got the vehicle built, it didn’t work very well. The front wheel rotated wildly, and the pulleys didn’t do their job very well. After that, it seems I pretty much lost interest in designing and building anything of that nature.
Fairly early in my college career I discovered that I loved computers and computer programming, and considered switching my major from Mechanical Engineering to Computer Science, but felt obligated to stay in the co-op program that I had started with Timken.
Summer 1973 – had my first big crush on a girl named Amy Smith who I also met while dishwashing at school. Unfortunately she tired of me within a few weeks, but I held out hope for over a year afterward.
1974 – I began this year in a state of depression largely because of Amy. During the Winter quarter at school, I became pretty close to my black roommate, Bradley, who I was paired up with by chance. He decided to drop out of school half way through the semester, however, and I felt very alone after that.
Some major improvements began happening in my life during the summer of 1974. The main thing was that John Krysztofiak befriended me. He was one of my fellow engineering students, who I’d seen many times, but had never connected with. He also was friends with Dave Meyers and Ed Siefert. John and I became very close, and as a result, my entire outlook on life began to improve. John and his friends belonged to a Christian group on campus and they began trying to convert me (I suspect it was John’s missionary zeal that gave him the courage to befriend me in the first place). Their threesome turned into a foursome as they began including me in everything. Because of their friendship, my college career ended on a high note. John and I even roomed together during our final quarter at school, and I continued to stay in touch with all of them after graduation. I am truly grateful for John and his friendship, as well as the relationships I developed with Dave and Ed.
The summer of 1974 was eventful for another reason. I met Julie Bachschmidt. She was a first quarter Freshman, I was a Senior. She was 17, I was 21, which seemed like a huge difference at the time. Our relationship began when we played tennis with friends, and grew from there. However, it just wasn’t the same as the relationship I’d had with Amy a year earlier. We dated off and on throughout my final year in school. I even visited her once while she was home with her parents. Although our relationship didn’t fully develop into a romantic one, her friendship and love for me were also a huge blessing in my life, and came close to erasing the pain I felt as result of Amy’s rejection.
Dec 1974 – my father was seriously injured in a fall on the farm. He remained bedridden for the remainder of his life (died in 2003) and was taken care of by my mother at home.
Winter and Spring 1975 – All graduating engineering students were courted by major companies. I was flown (to Michigan?) for a job interview with Eaton Corp., and to Fort Worth, Texas for an interview with General Dynamics who had just won a big contract to develop and manufacture the F16 fighter jet. The latter offered me a job at a salary of $13,200/year. Timken also offered me a permanent position at $15,500/year. Both offers were considered very good at the time.
June 1975 – graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Mom and Mary were able to attend my graduation. Julie was also there, although by then I felt we had nothing more than a friendship. My mother remembered her presence, however, prompting her to suggest years later I marry her!
I accepted Timken’s job offer and immediately returned to Ohio after graduation. I moved back into the farmhouse, but unfortunately my old bedroom was now occupied by my injured father so I was relegated to the back porch. Despite having a good-paying job, it felt more like a prison sentence. I felt little happiness or hope. This was a depressing period for me. I missed my friends and life back in college. I had hoped that I could have returned home with a wife and a future. Instead, the move back felt like a big step backward in many ways. I could have afforded to live on my own, but was unmotivated. I started thinking about buying a new car, and investigated the Triumph TR7 sports car.
August 1975 – my feelings of depression were growing worse until one evening when the idea of quitting my job and travelling the country came into my mind. I knew almost instantly that I needed to do this. The decision gave me new hope and purpose. After some deliberation, I set my departure date for the following May. It seemed like a long way off, but my whole attitude had changed. My time became filled with planning, preparation, and anxious anticipation. I also needed the time to save up as much money as possible.
I began studying the United States, especially the National Parks, which I intended to visit. I also made a list of equipment and supplies, and began collecting them. I decided I would travel in my AMC Gremlin which had very limited interior space. I had to do a bit of interior redesign so it could hold my bicycle and allow me to sleep inside. This required removal of the passenger seat (can’t remember if it had a rear seat, but I may have removed that as well). In place of the passenger seat, I installed a piece of plywood which gave me room to store the bicycle underneath, and allowed me to sleep on top.
In early May of 1976, I announced my resignation to my bosses at Timken. They expressed disappointment, and I felt some sadness and remorse, but not enough to change my plans. I was very excited about travelling. I had managed to save up over $10,000, a tidy sum for the time. I departed the family farm in my AMC Gremlin which had been modified for sleeping and storage of necessities, including my bicycle.
June 1976 – returned to the farm after 1 month of travel through Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, then northward along the east coast to Maine, and then westward through Canada to Michigan, and finally back to Ohio. I had visited at least 4 college friends in separate locations plus my Uncle Don and his family.
June 1976 – took off again after making a few improvements to my car, this time heading west to Illinois where I visited my cousin Donny and his family. After that I headed toward Texas.
One of my most vivid memories ocurred one night while sleeping inside the car. I was awaked by a thunderstorm and discovered that I had failed to fully close the back window allowing water to trickle in. I got the bright idea of pulling the window shut from inside the car. I found a pair of pliers and was able to grab a piece of metal that was attached to the glass. As I pulled with all my might, the entire window suddenly shattered, turning the small leak into a mighty torrent, and leaving everything stored in the back soaking wet and covered with broken glass. Fortunately I had a tarp so got out of the car and was able cover the gaping hole. I don’t remember the rest of the story except that I was eventually able to get the glass replaced and continue on my journey.
July 1976 – spent 3 weeks in McAllen TX with Dave Myers, another college friend, and worked as a draftsman for a company that was experiencing a worker strike. Then headed north-westerly, stopped briefly at the Grand Canyon.
Early August 1976 – passed through Salt Lake City, toured Temple Square, met with a volunteer who gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon and invited me to visit his home and meet his family. I declined, but kept his information. I was also very impressed with the wide, straight streets, simple numbering system for addresses, the beauty of the well-maintained downtown, and surrounding mountains.
Travelled to Denver where I got another temporary job, but can’t remember details of that one. Briefly considered becoming a pilot when I learned they had a pilot training school there.
Sept/Oct 1976 – spent 3 weeks in Yellowstone National Park and worked as a dishwasher. Made some nice friends, saw many of the wonders throughout the park, including some while accompanied by an attractive female co-worker. Wrecked my car as I was sightseeing, shortly before the park closed up for the winter. Decided to leave the car in the hands of towing company. I hitchhiked to Seattle.
Oct 1976 – stayed with Uncle Gene and his family in Seattle for a week or so; purchased a Ford Courier pickup truck and then noticed that the engine had a rattle. Was unable to resolve the problem and decided to continue my journey, heading south along the west coast.
Oct/Nov 1976 – stayed with Uncle Tony and family for 2+ weeks in Carmel-by-the Sea, CA while my truck was being repaired. After a mechanic disassembled the engine, we were unable to get parts because of worker strike at Ford, so after it was apart for several days, with no end in sight for the strike, I told the mechanic to put the engine back together and I continued south.
Nov 1976 – visited Uncle Larry and Aunt Geri in Los Angeles, CA. At this point I had run out of places/people to visit. After coming across an article about Salt Lake City in an LA paper, and remembering the positive impressions I had received while there, I decided to return and settle in.
Late Nov 1976 – rented an apartment in SLC for $50/week while I looked for a job.
Dec 1976 – Began working for Becton-Dickinson Immunodiagnostics in Salt Lake City as a mechanical engineer. Moved into a studio apartment on the corner of 200 W 200 N paying $80/month. I really enjoyed the job. The company was very small, compared to Timken, but growing. I had a wide variety of experiences there from mechanical design to sheet-metal construction to circuit board layout.
Jan 1976 – made friends with LDS people in my apartment building; began attending church and meeting with missionaries.
Spring 1976 – purchased my first motorcycle – a Kawasaki 175cc dirt bike; rode occasionally with Eugene Anderson, a co-worker.
Summer 1977 – got bored and decided to try volunteer work. Signed up for the Big Brother program. Was paired up with Jason Christiansen who was 7 yrs old at the time, and from a broken home. Met with him weekly (except while serving a mission in Japan) until I moved back to Ohio in 1984. I remember spending much time at a roller skating rink with Jason, but included him in many other activities. I think we both got a lot out of the relationship. We have maintained contact to this day (9/24/18). He has a successful business, a beautiful home, great kids, and most importantly, a wonderful stable marriage with his wife, Stephanie.
Sept 1977 – purchased a “triplex” in the Avenues area of Salt Lake (310 E St) for $58,000. It was actually 2 homes on a small lot. I rented the rear home out to a young couple, and found two Univ. of Utah students who paid rent to live with me in the front home. Made friends with Gladys Owen, my next door neighbor. My friendship with Glady continued through about 2009 when I visited her in a nursing home. She died in 2012.
Sept/Oct 1978 – the missionaries decided to end discussions because I wasn’t progressing. I was very sad about this and decided to take a long walk to Temple Square. Met with a volunteer there and explained my situation.
Sept/Oct 1978 – got laid off from my job shortly after my walk to Temple Square. During my job search I happened to meet back up with the same Temple Square volunteer, who also happened to be a job recruiter. He led me to a new job with Valtek in Springville, UT, about 50 miles south. I had been out of work about 3 weeks.
Dec 1978 – Sold the property in Salt Lake to an investor on a land contract, and moved into an apartment in Springville. Met Bob Hatch, my next door neighbor and his 2 teenage children. Started attending church with Bob and meeting with the missionaries again. Bob and I became good friends and we stayed in contact until his death in early 2017. He was a wonderful friend, teacher, and role model for me, and provided much loving counsel and guidance.
Spring 1979 – Roger Fulwider convinced me to purchase a kit for an ultra-light aircraft and began assembling it inside my apartment. Later, moved it to his backyard. Also purchase a Honda 500cc motorcycle about this time.
Summer 1979 – met Becky Smith and fell “in-love” with her. She, too, tired of me rather quickly, but I continued to hold out hope for over a year.
Sept 1979 – dissatisfied with my job at Valtek; found a new job back in Salt Lake City working for Hospal Medical Equipment. Moved to an apartment near Mill Creek on the east side.
Oct 13, 1979 – was baptized by Bob Hatch in my Salt Lake City ward – a true highlight of my life after nearly 3 years of investigating the church. I knew it was the right thing to do and looked forward to my new life as a “Mormon”. Read more about my conversion here.
January? 1980 – began attending a University of Utah singles ward, met Kirk Lindstrom who has turned out to be a life-long friend.
Feb 1980 – received my patriarchal blessing.
Early 1980 – Hospal owners decided to move their business to Denver. I declined an offer to relocate and found a job with Edo Western in Salt Lake.
1980 – bored again — began working as a volunteer at two hospitals — Shriners and the VA Hospital.
Late 1980 – still unsatisfied with my life, I made the decision to serve a full-time mission for the church. I received special permission because I was over age 26. A short time later, I was called to the Japan Sendai mission.
Feb 1981 – sold my truck and motorcycle, moved most everything else into Gladys Owen’s home (my neighbor when I was in the Avenues), got a ride to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo to begin my 2-year mission. Roger Fulwider later sold my airplane for me as well.
Feb to April 1981 – 8 weeks training in the MTC. This was a very intense experience for me. I was called to be District Leader over our little group of 6 or 8 Elders. I felt a lot of pressure most of the time, but learned to really appreciate the downtime each week as we attended “firesides” in the MTC or at the Marriott Center on the nearby BYU campus, and listened to talks given by General Authorities.
April 1981 – flew to Sendai, Japan. Was assigned to the Furukawa Branch (north of Sendai) and paired up with Elder Kurata who wasn’t a lot of fun to work with, partly because he was so serious, and also because of the language barrier. Fortunately there were two other Elders living with us who made my life easier.
Sept 1981 – transferred to Izumi to serve with Elder Price and then Cannon.
Dec 1981 – transferred to the mission home in Sendai to serve as Mission Recorder under Pres. Shimabukuro where I made travel arrangements for all returning missionaries. Also produced a manual for teaching English. Was paired up with another Japanese missionary, although the chemistry wasn’t good between us. Nevertheless, working in the mission home was a great blessing. I had not learned the language well enough by December to become a senior companion, as others in my group were beginning to do, and being paired with yet another Japanese Elder gave me further opportunity to learn the language. The work in the “hombu” also allowed me to get to know the mission president and his wife and to have many experiences related to the running of the mission. It also allowed me to avoid having to work outdoors during the difficult Winter months.
June 1982 – was transferred to Oodata and paired up with my first junior companion, Elder Empey. This began the period of greatest growth and satisfaction during my mission, with many wonderful experiences, challenges, and great people to meet. The Oodate Branch was extremely small with typical Sunday attendance of less than half a dozen people, which provided many opportunities to speak in Sacrament meetings which further increased my knowledge and confidence in speaking Japanese.
October 1982 – transferred to Fukushima to serve as a zone leader with Elder Parry. By this point in my mission, I was actually starting to feel somewhat comfortable in my role. We lived on the 3rd floor of a hospital that had been converted into a combination meetinghouse and missionary quarters – the nicest accommodations found anywhere in the mission. We had to endure the Winter months, but much of the travelling was by train as we were required to visit all the districts throughout our zone.
Feb 1983 – My full-time mission ended and I returned to Salt Lake City with mixed feelings. I felt both satisfaction and dread at what lay ahead. Upon my return I discovered that I had recently “inherited” my house in the avenues back. The purchasers had defaulted and filed for bankruptcy. I could have been left with a mortgage to pay and no property to show for it, but through Bob Hatch’s help, I was able to get the house back. Initially I was undecided about living in it because some tenants were there, but about a week after I returned from my mission, they suddenly vacated the house. At that point, I decided to move in and was also able to convince Kirk and Tom, another fellow in our singles ward, to move in as roommates.
March 1983 – was rehired by Becton-Dickinson, the same company that had laid me off in 1978, although things had changed a lot and I didn’t enjoy working there as much as I did the first time around.
Mar-Apr 1983 – Met Therese Dembinski shortly after being assigned to be her home teacher.
Summer 1983 – called to be First Counselor in the Elders Quorum Presidency in our singles ward. Therese was called to be a Counselor in the Relief Society Presidency.
Feb 1984 – began dating Therese. It was up and down relationship at first, but things seemed to fall into place within a few weeks.
March 17, 1984 – I proposed to Therese in a rather non-romantic way in her apartment. When I finally convinced her I was serious, she accepted. It felt very right at the time.
June 23, 1984 – I married and was sealed to Therese in the Salt Lake Temple; very happy times — we were on top of the world! Therese moved into my home in the Avenues. We honeymooned in Yellowstone and rode a train to Ohio, stopping in Iowa for a reception. Sadly, we had to leave the singles ward we had been attending, where we were almost celebrities, and began attending a family ward in the Avenues where no one knew us.
June – Oct 1984 – Felt restless. I wasn’t happy with my job. We felt useless in our ward. We wanted to start raising a family and felt it would be best to move either to Iowa (where Therese was from) or Ohio (where I was from). In October, we put the house up for sale.
Dec 1984 – Ohio won out. We sold the house for $85,000 and began the long drive to Ohio. Therese drove my little red GMC S-15 truck, and I drove a Ryder truck, pulling her car behind. On about Dec 18th, we were together in my truck, having parked the Ryder at a hotel, when we had a serious accident near Toledo. It was my fault. I turned left in front of someone. Therese had broken vertebrae in her neck and was in the hospital for a week. My mom, Matt, Doug, and Phil all came to the rescue, taking care of my badly damaged truck and driving the Ryder truck the rest of the way to Randolph, and unpacked our things. I was assisted by some kind members of the church in the Toledo/Maumee area. The doctors reluctantly released Therese on Christmas day and we drove slowly to the farm, arriving while the rest of the family was celebrating Christmas.
Dec 1984 to June 1985 – we lived in the basement of the farmhouse with my mom and dad.
Jan 1985 – got a job as a draftsman in North Canton, but also searched for ways to become self-employed.
March 1985 – decided to start a home inspection business after noticing an article in a magazine that was devoted to business opportunities.
June 1985 – purchased and moved into a duplex in Hartville at the northwest corner of Peony St. and Carnation Ave. Also travelled to New Jersey for training to operate a Housemaster of America home inspection franchise.
July 1985 – Got permission from my employer to reduce my work hours so I could spend time marketing the home inspection business. We had only purchased the rights for Stark County, but had permission to work Summit County as well.
Oct 4, 1985 – Sarah was born!
Dec 1985 – was laid off from my drafting job due to lack of work and started looking for other work while continuing to develop the business.
March 1986 – had (barely) enough home inspection work to support our family, so stopped looking for other work.
Spring 1987? – hired another inspector
Oct 29, 1987 – Andrew was born!
Spring 1988? – purchased franchise rights for Cuyahoga County which included Cleveland. Hired Tom ___ to help me market in that area. Also hired another inspector.
1988? Called to be Elders Quorum President in the Canton Ward.
Jan 31, 1990 – Michael was born!
Summer, 1990 – drove the family to Toronto to attend an open house for the new Temple. Stopped at Niagara Falls on the way back – very enjoyable trip.
1991 – Grew increasingly dissatisfied with the home inspection business. After investigating other opportunities, decided to purchase a computer with a “voice” board and software developed by Natural Microsystems, and start a voice mail service bureau.
1991 – Sold the Housemaster franchise to Chuck Witmer who hired me to continue performing many of the inspections.
1992 – Tried various means of getting the voice mail and/or interactive voice response business off the ground, including a “home alone” automating call service which could call loved ones every day to check on them. Used it to call my mom. Spent considerable time and money trying to get “Voice Ads” off the ground, which could be described as classified ads available by phone. Also got part-time work during this period delivering telephone books and performing store inventories. Our financial situation became steadily worse and at one point I suggested to Therese that she go back to work as a nurse and I become a stay-at-home dad. She rejected the idea.
Dec 1992 – Was hired as a delivery driver by Domino’s Pizza in Hartville. This was a turning point financially and we were finally able to live within our means again.
March/April 1993 – While visiting one my “home-teaching” families, I realized that they had to pay up to 20 cents/minute to call family members who lived only a few miles away, and realized that my voice mail equipment could be used to make these calls cheaply.
May 1993 – Launched “Akron-Canton Connection” (ACC), a call-forwarding telephone business, out of a suite at 800 West Maple Street, Hartville which was shared with Chuck Witmer. Initially the business served Akron, Canton, North Canton, and a few communities in between.
July 13, 1993 – Emily was born in our home!
1994 – Expanded ACC to include additional areas. This required the installation of computers in Akron, Canton, and North Canton which worked in conjunction with the original Hartville computer to relay calls throughout the region.
Also began looking at additional services to offer because I knew that the call-forwarding business probably had a limited life.
The business became quite profitable. We began adding about 500 customers (which we called “members”) every month; this rate of growth continued for a number of years. Our staff ultimately grew to about a dozen people.
Summer 1994 – Visited Idlewild amusement park in Pennsylvania with the family. I loved this park for the low price, lots of trees – even in the parking area – and kid-friendly rides, including a large cargo net that the kids and I played on. We also found an excellent playground nearby, and stayed at an inexpensive hotel, owned by a friendly woman who stopped by to give us ice cream bars in the evening. We went again the following year.
1994 – felt I was finally successful enough to join the Lake Township Rotary Club.
1995 – began major renovation of our home, starting with the addition of a 3-car garage.
Fall 1995 – organized a “career day” at the Lake High School in conjunction with my Rotary responsibilities.
Christmas 1995 – drove the family to Oglebay Park in Wheeling West Virginia to enjoy a large display of Christmas lights. Spent 1 night in a motel.
April 1996 – Sarah is diagnosed with Leukemia. She goes into remission within a month, but treatment continues for 2+ years. This was a tough time for our family. Sarah was given chemotherapy treatments which zapped her strength and left permanent damage to some of her bones – notably hip and lower back. She was in constant pain. She became so weak that she was unable to walk and had to be fed by feeding tube. This experience has shaped her life. It was very hard, but through it she gained strength — emotionally and spiritually, and eventually physically. Seeing her now (2019) you would never know of the trauma she went through.
1997? – Alltel petitioned the PUCO to stop one of our competitors who was offering call-forwarding between Akron and Cleveland. Eventually we were brought into the dispute as well. Thus began a process which took a couple of years to complete. Also developed a website for Lake Township, hoping it could be the start of a new business for us.
1998 – purchased the office building at 2930 Edison St, Uniontown. Our business peaked at over 20,000 customers. Also began offering “dial-up” Internet access and built a website named AkronCanton.com which featured some news, weather, and classified ads.
Summer 1998 – Spent 3 weeks on the road with the whole family in a rented RV, first visiting Creed & Renel Jones (and children) in Texas. Then stopped at the Grand Canyon on our way to Utah. Stayed with Kirk & Tammy Lindstrom and their 4 boys in Bountiful for about a week. Stopped in Iowa on the way back to visit Therese’s family
Christmas 1998 – flew the whole family to Iowa and spent Christmas Day with Grandma Carol Dembinski and other family members.
1999 – purchased a telephone switch for around $500,000 that allowed us to offer nationwide long-distance calling. The switch is installed in a room in the Nextel suite in Akron. We ended the original call-transfer service to comply with an PUCO ruling. Number of customers steadily drops, but revenue per customer goes up.
July 1, 2000 – began serving a 1-year term as President of our local Rotary Club. We met in the United Methodist church in Uniontown.
Summer 2001 – I helped Andrew and Michael get a job delivering newspapers and then helped them deliver it every afternoon and Sunday morning. This lasted 2 years.
2001 – began offering local telephone service, and finally moved the business into the Uniontown office building. Also moved our long-distance switch to a less hostile environment at the top of the First Energy building.
Summer 2002 – I help the boys earn Boy Scout merit badges in cycling and fitness. We deliver newspapers by bicycle which helps to fulfill the requirements of both badges.
Summer 2002? Took all the children to Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania and did some whitewater rafting. Did is again the following year.
March 6, 2003 – my dad died, after being cared for by my mom in their home for 28 years.
Spring 2003 – After an unsuccessful attempt to help Andrew start a lawn mowing business 5 years previously at age 10, I try again after his cousin Nick asks me to hire him (Nick) to mow at the office. I purchase a used mower and trailer, and have a hitch installed on my truck so I can help him. Michael also expresses interest in the business and suggests calling the business Brothers Mowing. Michael helped mow for a year or so before losing interest. Andrew continued the business on his own and over time added services, including snow plowing, leaf removal, landscaping, etc.. Now (2019) with his wife, Tina, as partner, the business has really blossomed.
Spring 2003 – began looking for another place to live after years of tension with Therese.
Summer 2003 – took all the kids to Put-In Bay in Lake Erie. Rode in a golf cart and threw bread to the birds on one of the beaches.
Dec 2003 – separated from Therese and moved into a house at 643 Lynnview St NW, Hartville (paid $150,000 cash). The children stayed with me every weekend and on Wednesday evenings.
Of course, this was a very major traumatic event in our lives. This isn’t the place to elaborate on the reasons for the separation, but I will say that our problems had been building for many years, despite many counseling sessions, and finally got to a point where our marriage became totally dysfunctional, and living together became impossible.
2004 – began making plans to sell the business to First Communications of Akron. Deal was formalized in the Spring of the following year. Final price: $360,000. Also began looking at new business opportunities.
Mar/April 2004 – took a trip to Salt Fork, State Park, with Andrew and Emily, spending one night in a lodge inside the park. Rented a small motorboat and rode on the lake.
June 2004 – Sarah graduates from High School and begins attending BYU-Idaho.
June 2004 – Drove to Knoxville, TN with Emily to visit Mary and her children for a few days.
July/Aug 2004 – Andrew, Emily, and I drive to Rexburg, ID to visit Sarah. We also see Bob Hatch in Utah, and stop in St. Mary’s, Iowa on the way back to see Carol Dembinski (my mother-in-law) and a couple other family members on Therese’s side.
Mar/April 2005 – Drove to Washington D.C. and Ocean City, MD with Sarah, Andrew and Emily.
May 2005 – office building is struck by lightning which forces us out of the building. Moved some employees and equipment into the First Communications building while others worked from home.
June 2005 – mortgaged my house and invested in a condominium development near Salem Ohio. Also searched for a site for a shipping and copy store.
July 15, 2005 – officially closed on the sale of the phone business (Akron Canton Communications, aka Acction Communications and Akron Canton Connection) to First Communications. The business topped $2 million in total revenue during its final full year – a record.
August 2005 – signed a lease for retail space on Main St in North Canton.
Nov 2005 – Biz Center officially opens in North Canton.
Dec 2005 – Finalized the divorce with Therese. She keeps her home and the office building. I keep the house on Lynnview.
June 2006 – With Biz Center losing money badly and me going deeper into debt, I turn operation of the store over to another man and then decide to invest time and money into a struggling call center.
Winter 2006/2007 – both the call center and the shipping and copy store fail. In addition, the condo development is not doing well.
Jan 2007 – I briefly work at a plastics company in Hartville, earning minimum wage (about $7/hour). Then begin working full time for Millennial Technologies (owned by Ladd Kopp, a friend from church) as a technical writer and later data report developer. The pay is $25/hour.
2007 – We complete the first of 16? planned condo duplexes, but are unable to sell it.
June 2007 – Andrew graduates from high school.
Feb 2008 – I file for bankruptcy, and consider selling my house. My work load at Millennial Technologies has been greatly reduced. I start looking for other work.
June 2008 – Michael graduates from high school.
Jan 2009 – I rent the house out to Marc Cumo and his family and move back to the farm house to live with my mother.
2009 – worked on starting a VoIP telephone service.
May-June 2009 – My contract ends at Millennial Technologies. My job searching become somewhat desperate. I fly to Salt Lake City to interview for a low-paying job and also apply for a job as a SQL programmer. I don’t get either job. I fly home and then return a short time later for training to sell VoIP telephone service. Ultimately I decide not to pursue that either.
Aug 2009 – My VoIP business fails to get off the ground despite much preparation. My job search becomes more desperate. The unemployment rate is very high at 10+%. I finally settle for a job in a Rubbermaid factory in Mogadore, Ohio. I start at just over $8/hour, but at least it’s steady and has medical benefits. I get a pay raise ($11+/hour) and other perks when I become a permanent employee just prior to Christmas.
Nov 27, 2009 – Sarah marries, and is sealed to, David Federkeil in the Washington DC Temple.
Feb 2010 – I meet Susan Kay, courtesy of LDSMingle.com. We have our first date in early March and immediately begin discussing marriage. Much could be written about others I dated while I single, but it was clear from the moment that Susan and I met that were meant to be together so she’s the only one I will mention.
End of March, 2010 – Michael leaves to serve for 2 years in the California Roseville mission.
April 25, 2010 – Susan and I are married in the Mayfield Heights Chapel by her Bishop in a very small and quiet wedding. Attending are my mother, Andrew, Sarah, David, Emily, Holly, and Jim. We spend the night at Quail’s Covey Bed & Breakfast in Hartville and visit Amish Country a little to the south the following day. Susan moves into the farmhouse with me — and mom.
May, 2010 – we fly to Seattle and spend a week visiting some of Susan’s family and other friends.
June 2010 – At my urging, Susan takes classes to become a licensed Realtor. She graduates, but for various reasons, including my suggestion that we open a shop in the Hartville Marketplace, she never obtains her license.
Aug 2010 – Susan starts working at Cambridge Home Health Care in Ravenna. It turns out to be an extremely stressful job, but hangs in there for nearly 2 years.
Also this month, after Michael praises the oatmeal we sent him while on his mission, I get the idea of marketing Susan’s oatmeal cereal mix. Over the next few months we brainstorm the possibilities.
Nov 2010 – with insufficient planning, we open a shop in the Hartville Marketplace. Sales are dismal and we close up the following Spring.
Summer 2011 – Susan and I took Emily and her friend, Lauren Kearns, to Put-In Bay in Lake Erie.
Sept 17, 2011 – after many months of pushing our Bishop to process the necessary paperwork, Susan and I are sealed in the Columbus Ohio Temple. We are accompanied by Sarah, David, Andrew, Emily, Holly, Jim and few others from our ward in Canton.
Feb 24, 2012 – Joselyn is born to David and Sarah.
Late March 2012 – Michael returns from his mission, is home for less than a month and returns to BYU-Idaho. I quit my job at Rubbermaid about the same time, intending to build an advertising agency, selling space on 9×12 card mailers.
Spring through Fall 2012 – I got discouraged with the card pretty quickly and turned to a number of other business ideas. During this period, we did a lot of bike riding. I would sometimes meet Susan after work and we’d ride trails around Ravenna. Or we would put the bikes on the back of my Hyundai Santa Fe and go into Akron and other areas where we could find bike trails, and ride for an hour or 2. It was very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the bike riding was a problem for Susan. First, she fell and broke her finger and toe. Later she began having problems with her neck and shoulders. She ended up going through a long period of being unable to move her arms above shoulder level and I had to help her with simple tasks. Eventually we realized that her symptoms we related to her bike riding. We theorized that leaning forward while riding the bike put pressure on her neck which caused the other problems. Unfortunately, that ended her bike riding and slowed mine down a lot as well.
Sept 2012 – Susan quit her job at Cambridge and began working for Victorian Rose, a women’s boutique in Hartville. It was a huge relief for her. She enjoys the low-pressure and opportunity to work in such an attractive store.
Nov 2012 – I finally give up on my entrepreneurial efforts for the time being and begin working for CIS Group performing insurance inspections on homes in Akron and surrounding areas.
Late Dec 2012 – After asking Sarah why she and David didn’t attend a family Christmas gathering, they suspend all communications with me. Obviously this deserves elaboration, but this isn’t the place.
July 2013 – David and Sarah purchase a duplex in Canton and move in. This puts them in our ward. I’m hopeful for a reconciliation. Shortly thereafter, we start an uneasy truce.
Dec 5, 2013 – Braxton is born to David and Sarah.
June 2014 – Emily begins serving in the California Fresno Mission.
Feb 28, 2015 – Mom dies at Summa Hospital in Akron after 2+ years of living in assisted living and nursing homes.
July 2015 – I am called to serve as a Counselor to Bishop Matt Oettli in the Canton Ward.
Sep 1, 2015 – Jackson is born to David and Sarah
Sept 2016 – Susan and I move to Albuquerque, NM to be near her daughter Holly and her family. Susan begins working for Albuquerque Public Schools as a bilingual teaching assistant for a Kindergarten class at George I Sanchez Collaborative Community School. I decide to begin receiving Social Security benefits, but also plan to start a business.
Oct 2016 – After staying with Holly and her family for a month, we move into a townhouse apartment on the southwest side of Albuquerque.
During this time, I invest considerable money in training to learn how to generate leads for local businesses by ranking websites. However, I soon become discouraged with it and search for other opportunities.
Oct/Nov 2016 – Susan is called to be a Counselor to Relief Society Pres. Lavella Rich in the Sage Ward, Los Lunas Stake. A week later, I am called to be Sunday School President.
Dec 2016 – We drive through to Idaho to attend Michael’s graduation from BYU-Idaho and also see Derek and Katrina and newborn grandson Gentry. We also visit friends and family in Utah.
Feb 27, 2017 – Jade is born to David and Sarah
March 2017 – I begin working as an on-call custodian at the Albuquerque Temple.
Spring 2017 – I join the ABQ West Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to launch LocalStakes, a website devoted to running sweepstakes for local businesses. I fail to get any traction, however.
Aug 26, 2017 – Andrew marries Tina in Green, Ohio
Oct 2017 – I become interested in selling Medicare insurance and begin taking the training necessary to become a licensed life and health insurance agent. After much study, I pass my exam at the end of the month. I also take additional training necessary to sell Medicare insurance. I begin searching for a broker to work with.
Nov 2017 – I sell my house at 643 Lynnview, Hartville to Andrew and Tina for $125,000.
Dec 2017 – after years of debate and uncertainty over what to do with the family farm, Matt asks Doug to be a co-owner with him, and the two of them purchase all shares owned by me, Gin, and Mary, paying $130,000 to each of us.
At the end of December, after much searching, I begin working with an insurance broker in Albuquerque who specializes in working with older people. After some brief training, I get on the phone, calling warm leads, and set up 8 appointments within a couple hours. Things are looking up.
Jan 2018 – Still having interest in helping small businesses with their marketing, I create a new business plan and hire a developer in Russia to create a website that will help launch and manage local sweepstakes drawings. This starts out as Localstakes.com and later becomes Localzi.com.
I also come across an ecommerce business opportunity that seems like it might be a good fit for Susan. I invest in training for that as well as other training on how to sell on Amazon.
Feb 2018 – Susan become upset with Holly when she learns that she’s teaching her children about witchcraft. Holly gets angry in return, and refuses any further communication. Susan makes several attempts to apologize and reconcile, but finally gives up.
I get discouraged with selling Medicare insurance, but create a website to sell long-term care insurance, and another website to sell a health-share product.
March 2018 – I decide to go in yet another business direction – selling press releases and image-building services. I spend considerable time and effort on this, but again lose interest when I can’t get it off the ground. By now, this has become a very familiar pattern or cycle that I can’t seem to overcome.
June 2018 – Holly and her family move to Eureka CA without saying goodbye.
June 2018 – We leave on a 3 week road trip, spending the longest period in Olympia, WA, but also passed through Utah, Idaho, Oregon, California, and Nevada, meeting up with many family members and friends, including Susan’s mother whom she hadn’t seen in many years. Wonderful trip, but stressful in some ways for Susan.
During this time, I’m also building a list of services to sell local businesses, such as reputation marketing, a cash-back program, and vacation packages they can give away to customers & clients.
July 2018 – We seriously consider moving to Olympia WA, primarily to be near Derek and Katrina who are struggling, but decide to put if off another year.
July 2018 – we bring Elmo, a dog owned by Paul Fredrickson, into our home. Paul has been in the hospital since February.
July 2018 – I am called to be on the High Council of the Los Lunas Stake.
Late August 2018 – we move from the townhouse apartment to the home of Darrell and Roleen Rasband who are serving a mission in the Dominican Republic.
Sept 2018 – I create a website and a Facebook group called “Shop ABQ” and begin holding weekly drawings, giving away local prizes found on Groupon. The hope is to get businesses to donate prizes and in exchange for free publicity. Then I will introduce them to my other services. I also use the names Dining Deals and ABQ Deals.
March 2019 – Once again, I get discouraged with my progress in getting a business off the ground and begin looking at other opportunities. I’m also starting to feel a bit desperate. We have not been living within our means and consequently have been depleting money from the sale of the farm. In addition, we know we need to move at the end of October and likely pay high rent. I come across a marketer who’s offering to mentor me in the Solo Ads business. This is a complete shift from anything I had done previously, but decided that a good mentor was something I’ve been missing all along so decided to pursue it.
April 2019 – I get discouraged with the Solo Ad business – largely because I didn’t feel the business model allowed you to offer real value to your customers. I then gravitated toward a related business, namely affiliate marketing — specifically marketing business opportunity products, but once again, didn’t feel I could offer real value to customers. These two business model distractions cost me about $4500 total, along with a lot of time, which made me feel even more desperate.
May 2019 – we learn that Susan’s mom, Sharron, has fallen a couple times and is in failing health. We consider moving to St. George, Utah where she is living.
Also during this time, I come across another business opportunity — working with landlords and homeowners to convert their property into a short-term rental property. Susan is extremely excited about the possibility of doing this, and I like it as well. We spend yet more money on training.
June 2019 – Susan takes a trip to Las Vegas and then to Washington State to help care for her friend Wendy. She’s gone for over a month. While in Washington, she stays with Derek and Katrina. She also meets with Tia Bradley to discuss the Airbnb/short-term rental business model. While out on a walk, she comes across a yard sale and decides to purchase several pieces of furniture with the idea that it might be used in the business. This was a turning point because it pretty much committed us to moving to Washington instead of St George Utah. Then, to further seal the deal, Susan found a home in Tumwater for us to live in. The owners lived in the same ward as Susan’s friend Gloria and were planning to leave Nov 1st to serve a mission for at least 12 months. Perfect timing, and it’s an even better deal than what we have in Albuquerque. Another tender mercy. We’re feeling a bit guilty, however, about not moving to St. George to help Susan’s mom.
I meet up with Susan in St. George, upon her return from Washington, and we spend a couple of days with her mother. After assessing the situation, as well as the family dynamics, we decide that it’s okay after all not to move there. Instead we plan to visit more frequently, and in conjunction with visits by her sisters.
July 2019 – After much study and pondering about the short-term rental business, I decide it’s really not for me — at least not on a large-scale. I decide I would rather return to something that will help local businesses — a model that I have kept coming back to over and over again over the years. Susan is very disappointed, to say the least. I feel bad.
To be continued…