KARL'S MARRIAGE AND PhD

  Karl Arnold Belser
18 March 2019


I've been looking through old letters and ran across two that I want to keep. One is a support letter that my father signed in 1962 when my fiance Anne-Marie Perntz came to the United States to marry me. The other is a letter from the president of Stanford responding to my mother and her brother Arnold O. Beckman (President of Beckman Instruments and philanthropic donor to Stanford) about why I had not yet graduated.


THE FIRST LETTER

i met Anne-Marie Perntz from Sweden in 1961, and she returned to Sweden pregnant as my fianc
e. See chapter 1961 - Love and Marriage from my Autobiography KARL ARNOLD BELSER for more details. Anne-Marie had to come here to get married because I was about to be drafted and could not leave the country. Hence, my father had to legally support Anne-Marie until we as a couple could manage our finances.

This letter also shows that my father was paid $1269 per month in November of 1961. My tuition at Stanford plus housing was about $300 per month and I worked in the dining hall of my dormitory for my board. Clearly my father could not afford to support me or my two brothers that were also at university. I found a letter after my mother's death stating that Uncle Arnie was paying for my brothers and my education. See chapter 1985 - inheritance From A Rich Uncle
from my Autobiography KARL ARNOLD BELSER.

THE SECOND LETTER

I had been a graduate student in the Electrical Engineering Department for four years
by January of 1967. My doctoral thesis was complete and mailed to my adviser Bernard Widrow. Widrow did not respond to my inquiries about his signing my thesis. I complained to my mother. She called her brother Arnold Beckman to get the issue resolved. Uncle Arnie called his friend Wallace Sterling, the Stanford president, and all hell broke loose. Nobody knew that I was the nephew of Arnold Beckman.  

My thesis defense happened immediately. The committee reviewing my thesis consisted of people I knew well (Patric Manty who was acting for prof. WIdrow, Ralph Smith the engineering provost, and Dr. Peterson a professor I knew.) I gave my presentation on Linear Decision Rules that Minimized the Worst Case Probability of Error with little comment.
My thesis was quickly signed and returned, but I never talked to Dr. Widrow again. I received my PhD degree in June of 1967.

I was never offered a staff position at Stanford as the letter suggested. I had apparently burnt my academic bridges. Instead I returned to IBM where i had worked several years as a co-op.  I spent the next 29 years at IBM. 

I finally acknowledged Uncle Arnie's contribution to my life at his 99th birthday party in my speech RECOLLECTIONS OF MY UNCLE ARNIE.

BACKGROUND COMMENTS

I was under a lot of stress at Stanford and lost the central vision in my right eye in 1964. The stress was still with me  as an IBM manager. I was also not happily married. I kept having vision problems that could not be diagnosed, which scared me.

My wife graduated from college as a teacher but refused to take a job. I was terrified that I would be blind and poor. I got divorced after spending four years in psychotherapy.
I wanted a supportive wife.

I continued to have severe vision problems until I lost the central vision in my left eye.  See chapter 1984 - The Year From Hell 
from my Autobiography KARL ARNOLD BELSER. I have survived  by practicing the topic of my thesis,  minimizing the risk of ruin.

I have always wondered if I would have graduated from Stanford without my uncle's help. I am sure I would have, but I never spoke to Dr. Widrow again and I burned any Bridges that I might have had to be a university professor.

I conclude that life is full of luck and unpredictable turns and I have been very lucky.
 
Last updated March 18, 2019
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