Bernard Leon Cate: Father of a WLAN Engineer

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Dad on Thanksgiving cruise in 2015

Bernard (“Bernie”) Leon Cate:  WWII/Korean war submarine veteran; he fixed almost anything that was broken;  maintenance director at a building materials business in Florida; worked hard all his life until he retired at age 82; a man of God.  And he is the reason why I am a Wi-Fi engineer today.  As a tribute to Dad, allow me to share some personal thoughts that have helped me in my WLAN career and may help you in yours as well.

Dad taught me to work hard.  I often worked with my dad through high school and college at the lumber company, doing vehicle and truss plant maintenance.  Repairing equipment, changing oil, running electric and air lines, painting truss assembly tables and staying out of the way of a mulit-ton press roller were normal daily activities.  The work was hot, long and tiring.   But at the end of the day, you could see what you did and felt good about it. And on the way home or back at the hotel, the evening meal tasted better knowing you had accomplished something positive at the end of the day.
**Wi-Fi engineer:  Hard work is part of WLAN engineeringGet used to it or find another career.  We sometimes call it “delayed gratification” when you work hard up front to wait for something good to come out at the end.  When a day is over and you can see what you’ve done, it does feel good.

Dad taught me to do hard things.  One day, Dad was doing a brake job on a car at home and I was inside reading.  He said, “Son, come here.  You are going to learn brakes today.”  Well, I didn’t have much of a choice but that day, I learned how to do brakes.   And when I was at an Indiana college and my brakes went out, I remembered what Dad taught me and fixed my brakes in the dorm parking lot.
**Wi-Fi engineer:  There are some things that are hard and you don’t like to do in the WLAN field.  Learn to do them and do them anyway because a day will come that you will be grateful you learned or someone showed you how to fix something that was hard to fix.  And as a way to pay it forward, mentor other WLAN engineers with what you know, because there are lots of engineers searching for mentors.

Dad taught me how to troubleshoot.  He would say:  “The truss plant is down and we have to fix it”, but engineers today call it troubleshooting.  Dad would look at a problem overall, then at the details.  He would determine an action plan, the time and cost of the repair, and would allocate resources (a.k.a. “Who’s gonna fix this one?”).  Lastly, he would specify a time frame when the job needed to be completed  (or in his words “the truss plant has to be running tomorrow afternoon!”).
**Wi-Fi engineer:  Troubleshooting may not be your favorite area, but learn how to do it.  Build Wi-Fi troubleshooting into your skill set by observing others and asking lots of questions.  Look for troubleshooting tutors and just like what Dad taught me, you will advance in your WLAN career.

Dad taught me about faith.  My Dad did not “preach” at people, but lived his faith out every day.  One evening a couple of African American construction guys came over to drop something off at our house, during the 1960s when racism was alive and well.  If someone at work had seen what my Dad was about to do, he would have been ridiculed and belittled.  That evening, I saw my dad welcome these two men and watched him give them a couple of hand torches he had hanging in the garage (“Hey, I don’t need these any more–would you like to have them?”).  Dad saw that everyone had value and importance, even though society back then said otherwise.
An early Church Father once said:  “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
My dad “preached” a lot by the way he lived!
**Wi-Fi engineer:  Faith can and should have a place in our lives and will help us in our careers.  When we treat and respect others equally, we’ll make a difference in their lives!  Be sure to take lots of time for family and friends, too.  During retirement, we probably will not say to ourselves, “I wish I had spent more time at work.”

Dad, thank you!  Hard work, doing hard things, troubleshooting, faith.  You taught me a lot and I am where I am today because of that.  I will continue to draw upon what you taught.  And I will keep sharing and building into other engineers the things you have taught me that have made my career successful.  (A personal war story from Dad is at the end you may want to read).

 

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

  “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 15:55-56

 

Bernard Leon Cate:   November 7, 1925 – March 18, 2016

 

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Conning tower of USS Roncador (SSN-301) at Naval Base Point Loma, San Diego, CA

War story:  Dad was a machinist (engine mechanic) on the USS Roncador, a Balao Class Submarine, during WWII.  The war was just over, but the Navy continued to do training and drills.  One day out of Pearl Harbor, his submarine was at periscope depth when a US naval destroyer rammed the conning tower.  Water started pouring into the sub and instinctively, Dad blew the ballast.  When the sub surfaced, the entire crew was in chest-deep water, but all unharmed.  Soon afterwards, the CO of the sub chewed my Dad out for surfacing the sub without official orders; however, a week later, a superior commander called my dad into his office and said “Seaman Cate, your actions saved the lives of every man on that submarine.  Thank you!”.   (I asked Dad if he got a commendation for his actions and he said he just got a pat on the back…).  Dad told me this story when recuperating from a surgery and added, “Son, I don’t think I ever thanked the Lord for saving my life that day.”

I think you did Dad–and you’ve thanked Him every day by the way you lived your life.

Thank you — for everything — from a  grateful son!

Happy Easter, Dad!

 

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