As you may have seen in this post, my grandmother (and hero) left the physical world about 7 weeks ago. Two days ago, another shining star in my life -my grandfather, Dr. Sherman P. Vinograd – joined her.
Talk about a life lived to its fullest – wow. He lived to be 93 and took advantage of every year of that long life. My grandad was an amazing man and a very influential person in my life.
One of my aunts wrote this to highlight just a few of the many many accomplishments and legacies he is leaving behind:
“Jazz musician, physician, NASA medical researcher and father of four. Dr. Vinograd served as the NASA Director of Biomedical Research from 1961 to 1979. Among his many accomplishments was the establishment of the In-flight Medical Experiments Program in preparation for the Apollo missions. This program designed flight crew studies to evaluate human responses to spaceflight. He wrote the first set of books on the effects of weightlessness on human physiology. His greatest achievement was conceptualizing and establishing the Space Medicine Advisory Group (SPAMAG), which defined the life-support requirements for a manned orbiting research laboratory. This resulted in the creation of Skylab. Dr. Vinograd’s papers are curated within the Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University.”
While I knew of his many accomplishments and status with NASA, time spent as a jazz musician and work as a physician – to me, his most important role was as my loving and supportive grandpa who always there encouraging my interests and celebrating my accomplishments. He would often be humming a little riff of some jazz tune, “Daaah deeeeee, dah-doo, dah-doo” while doing this or that, or giving you his little smirk and playfully snort.
Sherman P. Vinograd
One of my favorite memories is when I took my first solo plane trip down to Florida to visit him. I think I must have been about 10 or 12 years old. He took me to see a jazz band rehearsal at the University of North Florida. As I mentioned, he was a jazz musician himself and LOVED being in the company of other musicians. We walked through campus and when we neared the music buildings, Grandad was like a movie star – everyone knew him and gave him friendly greeting, “Hey Doc V!” We entered the small band room where there were a few chairs along the wall about 4 feet in front of the band. A few of the musicians were warming up here and there, but when the band played their first chart, it nearly pinned us against the wall! Good lord was it loud – and impressive. My face must have said it all because Grandpa got a huge kick out of that – laughing and patting my back to the tune.
While my grandparents were very different in many ways – grandma was an artist and free spirit and grandad was a scientist and academic – they complemented each other in some really beautiful and meaningful ways too. They both had genuine interests in the others’ passions. I didn’t always see it growing up, but I came to understand it more as an adult. And now I see their connection in a different light – with a little more appreciation. It makes me smile to think of the two of them together again, making music and watching their family grow.
These two people were incredibly influential figures in my life. They embodied their values and passions wholeheartedly and lived full rich lives. I am working hard everyday to continue in that light. I will miss them both immensely.