I remember last year around this time thinking how fast we were heading into a new decade, 2020. For my family, 2020 had some special milestones planned, such as my sons Antonio and Vincent entering their senior year in college, Luca graduating from SPHS, and all my boys would be adults. I would be reconfirmed to the Board of Harbor Commissioners starting my eighth year and retiring from Boeing at the end of the year. Carolyn set some personal goals and put into motion plans to see our favorite comedians, rock bands, sports events, and theatre productions, such as Hamilton, together as a family.
Prior to COVID-19 hitting the United States, January started off with laughter, as we enjoyed seeing comedian Sebastian Maniscalco at the Forum. Two weeks later, we woke up on a Sunday to learn of the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and all on board the helicopter that crashed that morning. The next day, we honored the victims during our waterfront promenade and downtown square groundbreaking ceremony. In February, we celebrated the naming of David Arian Way, Carolyn and I successfully completed the All Fit 6 Week Challenge to lose 20 pounds, and our family enjoyed seeing comedian Jo Koy at the Forum. The first week in March, I attended one of the only Lakers home games, rocked to Kiss at Staples Center, spoke at Eastview Little League Opening Day, and attended the USC-UCLA basketball game at the Galen Center. 2020 seemed like it wouldn’t be so bad after all.
That would all change as the first cases of COVID-19 began to hit the States and President Trump called for a national emergency regarding COVID-19 on Friday, March 13. Store shelves began to empty as people prepared for the worst while quarantines and lockdowns began. Workers were categorized as essential and non-essential, businesses at all levels would suffer tremendous losses, unemployment rose, and food lines began. At Boeing El Segundo, two thirds of the work force was able to work from home. I would continue to go into work with my union employees, who are essential to getting satellite products built.
COVID-19 became real for my family when Carolyn and I tested positive months into quarantine. I was symptomatic; she was not. Our boys tested negative. I had a fever for two straight weeks, developed a serious cough making it difficult to talk, slept on my stomach to help reduce coughing, lost 20 pounds, and found myself unable to sleep and pacing in the middle of the night. Week three is when I began to feel better. Summer would see the passing of my father Tony, and my family has been left with a big hole in our lives. It’s been four months since his passing and as we head into our first holiday season without him, it will be difficult to say the least, but our family is strong, and we will celebrate with him in spirit.
As I prepare for retirement, I always thought both of my parents would be with me when I walked out of the company for the last time, but that will not be the case. I started at Hughes Space and Communications, now Boeing, 30 years ago. I have to thank Howard Hughes for the opportunity to retire at age 55. I attended Harbor College to learn electronics to help my dad at his television repair shop, Tony’s TV, but landed in aerospace building, testing, and launching satellites after earning my engineering degree from Cal Poly Pomona. This has transcended to the next generation with my son Antonio preparing to graduate as an engineer from Cal Poly Pomona in 2021.
2020 has been the toughest year in my life, and it ends for me with mixed emotions. Through it all, my family has become closer and we, like many of you, truly appreciate life. We gain strength each day, appreciate all that is around us, and thank God for the gifts in our lives. We must unite as a nation and once again stand tall together. I wish you a safe, healthy, and happy year-end and look forward to a brighter 2021. May God bless you all! spt