My grandfather, Charles M. Stotz, was born in 1898 in Ingram, Pennsylvania, people called him Charlie.
In the same year, Martinus Beijerinck demonstrated that a particular disease was caused by an infectious agent smaller than a bacterium. He showed that the agent could replicate and multiply in living plants. He named the new pathogen “virus” to indicate its non-bacterial nature.
Charlie’s father, Pittsburgh Architect Edward Stotz, was born in 1868 just a few years after the US Civil War, which claimed nearly 600,000 lives, about 0.04% of the world population. Edward was born of Johann Stotz, who, at the age of 3, survived the boat trip across the Atlantic ocean to immigrate to America from Germany with his father, Johannes Stotz, and the family.
When Charlie was 5, in 1903, the first manually controlled, fixed-wing, motorized aircraft flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, by Orville and Wilbur Wright. When Charlie was 7, in 1905 Albert Einstein came up with his theory of special relativity.
In 1914, when my grandfather, Charlie, had just turned 16 years old, World War I started. The war lasted until 1918, nearly 16m people died, about 1% of the population. Around the time that the war ended, near Grandpa’s 20th birthday, the Spanish flu struck and infected more than 500 million people, 50 million of which are estimated to have died, 3% of the population.
Since he was too young to immediately serve in the war, Charlie entered the US Army for one year. When peace fell upon the world, he graduated from Cornell University with a degree in architecture in 1921 and in 1922 completed his master’s degree there. He joined his father’s architectural firm in 1923 and had a relatively peaceful life.
In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, which led to other antibiotics, and meant that death from bacterial infection became rare.
Then, when Charlie was 31 in 1929, the Great Depression kicked off. By 1932, global GDP had fallen by 15%, international trade collapsed by about 50%, and in the US, nearly one in four people were out of work, worldwide that number was more like one in three.
Knowing there was no work, in 1932 Charlie received a grant, and he and his friends went traveling all around Western Pennsylvania to write his book, “The Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania.”
When he was 35, in 1933, the FM radio was patented by inventor Edwin H. Armstrong.
Things slowly started to recover from the Great Depression, and in 1936, his father, Edward Stotz, left the firm to Charlie and his brother Edward Stotz Jr. They enjoyed three years of prosperity, but then the world was about to change forever.
When Charlie was 41, in 1939, World War II started. By the time it had ended, 75 million people were dead from that war, nearly 4% of the world population.
In 1945, the US invented the atomic bomb and dropped it twice in Japan, and over just three days killed about 200,000 people, about 0.01% of the population at the time. The war was over.
Three years later, in 1948, Charlie lost his father.
In 1950 when Charlie was 52, the Korean war broke out and lasted until 1953. The war claimed the lives of about 2,500,000 people, which was about 0.1% of the population.
When he was 59 years old in 1957, one million people died from the Asian Flu, which was about 0.03% of the world population.
When Charlie turned 61 in 1959, the Great Chinese Famine was just starting, and within three years, 25 million people were dead. This was nearly 1% of the world population. During this same year Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine, polio never was a serious threat to humanity after that.
Then in 1963, when Charlie was 65, the Vietnam War started, and by the time it ended took about 2.5 million lives or about 0.1% of the world population.
When he was 70, in 1968, The Hong Kong Flu killed 1 million or about 0.04% of the population.
While he was enjoying retirement in 1981, HIV/AIDS started to hit the world, with an estimated 25 million people died from then until now.
In 1984, the year before he died, the first commercially available cell phone was created by Motorola.
Charlie died in 1985 and lived through the good and bad, but he always decided to make the best of it.
As I write this on May 4th, 2020. The world has hopefully passed the worst of the Coronavirus disease, which has so far killed 247,000 people, 0.00325% of the population.
I challenge you to look for inspiration from your ancestors to make it through these difficult times.
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