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I grew up in the Crystal Lake, IL one of Chicago's far-northwest suburbs. My family was transplanted from Ohio and for many years my father commuted to Chicago via the Chicago Northwestern (now Metra) railroad, to work in The Loop for AT&T. I was a swimmer from an early age and became an unabashed water-rat, boating, swimming, water skiing and scuba diving. I became a Lifeguard and Swimming Instructor during my teens.
Armed with a high school diploma and some delusion about becoming a marine biologist, I headed to Illinois State University and earned a degree in biology and chemistry. During college I somehow evolved into a husband and chemist. After graduation I went to work for Abbott Laboratories in Waukegan, IL. Over the next 20 years I had a half-dozen job roles, from pharmaceutical research chemist to global strategic sourcing manager - in charge of supply chain development for new drugs. In the years that followed I became a vice president for two smaller drug and companies, where I led Business Development and Sales efforts and also performed global market research. I continue to “dabble” in the Pharmaceutical and Fine/Performance Chemical industries today.
Not long after college I moved west from Waukegan to the shores of the Fox Chain-O’Lakes. I raised a family and maintained homes on the north shore of Lake Marie (Antioch, IL) and then on the east shore of Petite Lake (Lake Villa, IL). The water-rat blood that coursed through my veins resonated with “the call of the wild” emanating from the lakes each summer. Something about the throaty growl of a through-hull exhaust system makes you fantasize about being in your own boat, on-plane, perfectly trimmed-out and speeding along on the open waterway. Like many Midwesterners, I have tended to live for the summer-time. Living on the Fox Chain, the ideal weekend for me was to park the car in the driveway on Friday night and have it remain untouched until Monday morning. Many Saturdays and Sundays were spent boating, swimming or just hanging out on-shore with friends, family and neighbors. I sometimes feel as though I should apologize to my various bosses and colleagues, who may have thought that I used my off-time studying the Drug and Chemical industries. Mentally or physically, I was out boating, as often and for as long as possible.
Around a quarter-century ago, I started going to the Blarney Island drag boat races on Thursday nights. I was joined by my neighbor, friend and (now) long-time partner in a drag boat, Gary Frankowski. With Gary at the wheel of our 980-HP Cole flat-bottom, Ni-Cole-n-Dimed, we have captured 16 season High Point Championship titles at Blarney Island, in 17 years of racing. After a year off in 2015, we hope to continue doing more of the same in 2016.
In 2014 I resurrected the Northern Illinois Drag Boat Association (NIDBA), who's mission is to revitalize and grow the sport of drag boat racing. Please don't let my passions and avocations influence you one way or the other in regard to deciding to acquire a copy of this book. There is something in The history of Boating on the Fox Chain-O'lakes for everyone that has spent quality time boating on the Chain. I guarantee that this coffee-table book will provide hundreds of hours of entertainment for your boating friends and family members.
I have included a few of my favorite pictures in the Slide Show page-tab of this site. I invite you to visit the book's Facebook page, where you can add your prized photos and share stories about yourself, friends and 'family', growing up on the Fox Chain:
To your personal best in life and to the love and joy of power boating...