Vernon has taken on many different roles over the course of his 87 years. He has been a soldier, a translator, a grave registrar, an internationally celebrated inventor, and most importantly a loving spouse and doting father. Recently Vernon rediscovered his love of the theatre and added one more role to his long list; that of a classical performance observer.

Vernon began his career in the United States Army during WWII. He spoke German, and was soon put on translation and later, as the allies liberated Germany, grave registration duty. This entailed going to German villages and speaking with the Burgemeester, or mayor, and asking if any U.S. planes had been shot down in the village. If they had, he asked to be shown any bodies that had been buried. He then called in a crew to recover the soldiers’ remains and return them to their families. He also translated German for diplomats, and met some of WWII’s greatest heroes through this work. He translated for General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General George S. Patton, General Omar Bradley, and spoke English with then Brigadier General Charles de Gaulle while he worked with dignitaries. While Vernon was stationed in Le Mans, France he saw a part of The Tales of Hoffman; an opera that captivated him with its beautiful music and costumes, and founded in him a life-long interest and appreciation for the arts. Unfortunately, that night he was called away from the opera, and he has longed to see it in its entirety ever since.

After his time in the military, Vernon was an engineer at the Lawrence Livermore Lab in California. Through the Livermore Lab, he made many inventions and discoveries. His greatest invention was the use of a Xenon cap fitted to fiber optics through which the French military was able to measure the intensity of explosions. For this invention he received a letter thanking him from his previous acquaintance and newly elected French President, Charles DeGaulle. However, his most satisfying role was that of a father and husband. His wife Evelyn was diagnosed early in life with Polio and he was her devoted caregiver. His children Linda and Bob never lacked for anything despite tight finances. Vernon’s wife Evelyn has since passed on and Vernon lives among friends at Oak Tree Villa in Scotts Valley, CA. He rediscovered his love for the theatre arts through the television but hadn’t seen the production of The Tales of Hoffman advertised since the 1940’s, and did not think he would ever be able to see it. He learned differently when his Brookdale community nominated him for a Wish of a Lifetime. On June 30th, 2013 Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living celebrated Vernon’s love for the theatre by sending him to a live production of The Tales of Hoffman in San Francisco, CA. He attended the opera produced by the San Francisco Opera with his friends Laurie and Karen. After performing so many roles in his life, Vernon was in the audience watching as professionals enacted the opera he has waited since the 1940’s to see. He said, “Thank you for making it possible for me to see an Opera that I’ve been waiting to see for almost 70 years. We were treated like VIP, the staff at the Opera House couldn’t have been nicer. My Wish of a Lifetime came true thanks to you!”

 

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