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Remembering with great fondness today Paul Koshewa, who passed away yesterday after more than nine decades of living life to its fullest. Kosh was many things to many people, war hero, teacher, coach, friend, mentor, but for me, he was one of three teachers at The Westminster Schools who set me on my career path at a time when the trail wasn't well marked.

Now anyone who knows me knows that running is not my life. I quit as soon as I found out I could be team manager and still get credit for the sport. But in the early 80's, I was beginning to really get into computers and Kosh was looking for ways to streamline management of the Westminster/Pace Cross Country Invitational. I can't remember if I brought him the idea or he asked me if it was possible, but with his encouragement, I wrote a program on an Apple IIe computer to organize and automate Cross Country meets.

It was revolutionary for the time. Using Apple Basic and 5.25" floppy disks, the program used a database of schools and addresses to generate a form letter and address labels inviting schools. Coaches would send in registration forms, and their runners would be input into the database and race numbers would be assigned. Before the meet, score sheets for each team would be generated and race day programs printed.

On Race Day, when runners crossed the finish line, one official would hand out position cards while another recorded the time for that position. While those times were entered into a computer powered by a Honda Power Generator running out of the back of Kosh's station wagon (it could hold more stuff than Hermione's travel bag), coaches would write down their runner's position numbers on the score sheet corresponding to their race number. These were turned in and also entered into the computer.

Once all teams had turned in their score cards, we would press a button and the software would crunch the numbers and score the race, printing preliminary results on site for posting. We used this for Region and State meets as well, and adapted it for Track and Field in the spring too. Decades later, and as recently as Reunion last year, Kosh would still gush over the program we created and used for 3 years while I was there, and a few years after until some company published their own application.

Kosh loved his kids - and by that I mean all his students and athletes as well as his own. He kept up with us and would talk about the now-doctor who fixed this, or the now-lawyer who solved that. He was also a humble man, even as he was honored by many medals, awards and as an Olympic Torch bearer. But for me, he'll be the man who had the foresight (and patience) to give a geeky teenager the opportunity to write his first real purposeful computer program.

Along with Julie Boggs, my 4th grade teacher who first introduced me to computers, and Betsy Spruill (7th and 8th grade Math) who introduced me to programming, Paul Koshewa's support helped me envision a career with computers in a time when such thinking wasn't yet mainstream. I will always be grateful, and I will miss him forever. RIP, Kosh, you've reached the finish line at last. Here's your number.

Whose thoughts go out to Kosh's family and family as they celebrate his life and light...

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