Gary Podwalny


Austin, TX  78759
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What kind of profession does a kid who fills his notebooks with automobile sketches pursue? Industrial Design.

After graduation from Oberlin High School I studied Industrial Design at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and at The Ohio State University, graduating from OSU in '66 with a BFA, majoring in industrial design. While at Ohio State I met and married my first wife, Carole. My first industrial design job took me to Wooster, Ohio, with Rubbermaid. I spent four years with Rubbermaid, two in Wooster, Ohio, and two in Winchester, Virginia. My eldest daughter, Kimberly, was born in Winchester in 1968. Rubbermaid was a great company to work for, but I wanted to grow in my design experience.

In 1970 I took a position with RCA in Indianapolis, to design consumer electronics products, such as tv's, radios, vcr's, and video disc players. I enjoyed the work and stayed with RCA for 10 years. My daughter Kristina was born in Indiana, in 1971. In 1974, Carole and I were divorced. I stayed single for several years, and spent alternate weekends being a dad for my daughters. In 1977 as I was doing some moonlighting work for a client, I had the good fortune to meet Wendy. We were married in 1979 and I am happy to report that we are still together twenty-one years later.

The work at RCA was very interesting and new technologies kept the design work challenging, but again, I wanted to expand my design experience and I wanted to live in California.

In 1979 I took a position with Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, California, and Wendy and I moved west. Working with Hewlett-Packard I had a wonderful time designing calculators, portable computers, factory computers, auto test computers, and had opportunities to travel to Europe and the Far East.We lived for six years in Palo Alto.

In 1981, our son, Misha (Sergey Michael) was born in Palo Alto. In 1985, our daughter, Emily was also born in Palo Alto, and shortly after, I accepted a promotion with HP that took us to Corvallis, Oregon. In 1986, our youngest daughter, Alexandra was born. I learned how to fish for salmon and steelhead in the coastal streams. Wendy opened an art school for children, and the school taught over 3,000 young students.

In 1994 I accepted a Senior Industrial Design position with Dell computer Corporation in Austin, Texas. It was a very difficult choice to make to leave HP, but I felt the need to try something new. Dell has proven to be a very dynamic place to work, and has provided all the challenges I sought.

In 1981, after the birth of our son, Wendy was diagnosed as having Hodgkin's disease, a form of lymphatic cancer. We were very fortunate to be living in Palo Alto, near Stanford University at that time, as it specialized in the study and treatment of Hodgkins Disease. She was given both radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and she has been in remission since. Twenty years after treatment, Wendy has had health problems attributable to the radiation therapy. Two years ago she suffered a heart attack, and had to undergo an emergency double by pass operation. Four months after the initial open heart operation, Wendy underwent a second open heart procedure to repair a mitral valve. She is very active today. The radiation therapy did do considerable damage to her heart and lungs, however, she would not be alive today, had she not gone through the protocol therapy at Stanford.

Today, we enjoy Austin very much. We have four pugs dogs and a golden retriever, four cats, a python, an iguana, a duck, and a pigeon. We have 15 to 20 deer that live in our backyard. My parents immigrated to the US and settled in Oberlin in 1949. They loved living in Oberlin. My father passed away in 1991. My mom was active in civic affairs, such as fund raising for the United Nations, and lives at Kendal, here in Oberlin.

Wendy has become involved with the Austin International Poetry festival, and four years ago she served as executive director. More recently, she has developed her cooking skills at a local culinary school, and has become an excellent gourmet cook.

My enthusiasm for cars has remained, though I never designed any, not even a hubcap. I have a 1957 Continental Mark II, and a 1991 Corvette ZR-1 that satisfy the urge to polish metal. I look back at my Oberlin roots and am grateful to have had the good fortune to have grown up here. Oberlin was so generous to my family when we arrived, as displaced persons from war torn Europe. The education I got from OHS has proven to be an excellent foundation for college and beyond.

I'm a grandfather! Twice!!
Thank you, Oberlin.

Go back to our Oberlin High School 1960 web site.