DeKing,  Ken
28 May 2008
I got into subs through a little bit different path than most. In 1955 my best friend Ron and I
were getting tired of waiting to be drafted and wanted to just get it over with. We went to
the county office and had our names put to the top of the list. In about 30 days we were in
Syracuse, NY getting sworn in when the Sgt. in charge divided us into two groups
according to the first letter of our last names, Ron went to one side of the room and I to
the other. The Sgt. then announced that my group was now in the Navy and the others in
the Army, so long Ron.

After a few weeks in boot camp I asked what kind of school I could get, and was told us
draftees would be scraping paint and swabbing decks, and no training would be wasted
on us. After a while, I was told I could get schooling if I changed over to regular navy, so I
did. In January '56 I was sent to Great Lakes to electricians mate school and while there
one of my best friends was from the Sea Poacher in Key West and he convinced me to
apply for sub duty. I did and was accepted and when I graduated from EM school I went
directly to New London. The rest is history.
I served in Thornback from October '56 to December '59 and was discharged from the
Charleston base as an EM2(SS).

After the navy I went back to work where I had been before, at Stromberg-Carlson in
Rochester, NY. While I was gone, SC was bought out by General Dynamics so that was
who my employer was now.

Shortly after becoming a civilian again I met my wife to be, Judy, and we were Married on
July 1, '61. We had two sons, Jay and Karl and stayed in the Rochester area for the next
23 years. Not long after we were married I began to see the writing on the wall, there was
no future for me at GD so I started looking around. A friend told me IBM was looking for
some talent so I went there and applied for a job as customer engineer, a fancy name for
guys who fixed IBM machines and computers. I got the job and started there in October of
'61, very happy to be away from GD and in a company with a future.

I was quite happy with my job for almost twenty years, but when the computers started to
diagnose their own problems and all we had to do was plug in a new part to fix a problem,
the fun went out of the job. I got lucky in '84 when, because of the line of equipment I had
been specializing in was in telecommunications, I was asked to relocate to Raleigh, NC to
help with the development of a new video conferencing  system. When I retired in August
'91 I had been managing IBM videoconferencing system for 4 years and loved my job but
big blue was getting ready to downsize and one of the things they were selling was the
system I was managing. When I left IBM I went to work for Pierce-Phelps in Philadelphia,
PA, but stayed in my same office at IBM in Raleigh for the next 2 years, working with IBM
as my customer doing the same job I had before I retired. I eventually retired from that job
in July '94 after working out of my home for a year back in my hometown, Wolcott, NY.

With the kids long gone from the home, Judy and I got an RV and traveled, spending our
winters, first in Myrtle Beach for several years and finally found a great RV park in Dade
City, fl to spend out winters in. While in Dade City Judy became suddenly very ill, and
after 6 weeks of in and out of the hospital she was finally diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian
cancer. We got her to Moffitt cancer center in Tampa and by that time she had a blood
clot on her lung and had lost 40 pounds in 6 weeks. She was operated on for the cancer
and given 4 to 6 weeks to live. Judy was a fighter and after more than 40 sessions of
chemo and 6 weeks of radiation, and going into remission twice, she finally lost her fight in
January '07, 4 years to the day from the time she was first diagnosed. I lost the love of my
life, we had been together 47 years and married for 45 1/2 years, I think about her every
day, she never lost her sense of humor and always kept her faith in God. Our friends were
always amazed at the grace she showed through it all.

When I got back to Florida after Judy died, I did happen to meet up with Velma, the girl I
had been going with before I went in the navy and went with most of the time I was in. We
had eventually drifted apart, she got married and I married Judy. Velma was widowed in
1984 and we had totally lost track of each other, but Judy and Velma did meet in 2004 at a
reunion and became friends but we still didn't keep in touch and I didn't know where Velma
lived. Just before Judy died she told me, "I hope you can find Velma". I didn't think much of
it at the time but that was Judy, she did not want me to be alone. One day, Velma told me,
she was living in Pensacola, one day when she was at her computer and for whatever
reason, she decided to look at the Rochester D&C on line. When she did, she didn't know
why she was there but something told her to look at the Obits, it was the one day that
Judy's was there. She waited a few months and eventually sent me a card, asked me to
call and gave me her phone number. We talked and emailed for weeks and eventually
decided we needed to meet and see if there were still any sparks left. We are now married
and have a new home in Zephyrhills, fl and I'm not a snowbird anymore, I sold my home in
Wolcott, NY. My sons love her and she understands my love for Judy will always be there
but it doesn't stop me from loving her too. We are happy knowing Judy led us back to
each other.

When I look back on my life, two things stand out as my proudest achievement's, my time
as a submariner and marrying Judy.