Letters

Letters 09-15-2014

Stop The Games On Campus

Four head coaches – two at U of M and two at MSU – get a total of $13 million of your taxpayer dollars each year. Their staffs get another $11 million...

The Truth About Fatbikes

While we appreciate the fatbike trail coverage, the quote from the article below is exactly what we demonstrated not to be true in most cases last season...

Man Has Environmental Responsibility

I tend to agree with Thomas Kachadurian (“Playing God,” Sept. 8) that we should not interfere with the power of nature by deciding what is “native” and what is not. Man usually does what is better for man (or so we believe), hence the survival and population growth of our species...

The Bush & Obama Facts

Don Turner’s letter to the editor on 8/25/14 stated that there has never been a more corrupt, dishonest, etc. set of politicians in the White House. He states no facts, but here are a few...

Ban Pesticides

I grew up downstate in a neighborhood without pesticides. I was always very healthy. Living here, I have become ill. So I did my research and found out a lot about these poison agents called pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, etc) that are being spread throughout this community, accumulating in our air, water and soil...

Respect for Presidents?

Recently we read the Letter to the Editor that encouraged us to stop characterizing President Obama as anything other than an upstanding, moral, inspiring “first Black President”. The author would have us think that the rancor in the press, media and public is misguided. And, believe it or not, this rancor is a “glaring exception to … unwritten patriotic rule” of historically supporting all previous presidents...


Home · Articles · News · Art · He‘s a Magic Man
. . . .

He‘s a Magic Man

Carina Hume - January 11th, 2007
There’s been a lot of magic in Harry Colestock’s life: He helped put John Glenn Jr. into space, enabled surgeons to efficiently melt a knot at the end of a suture, and puts smiles on the faces of many with his magic act.
A resident of Walloon Lake, Harry’s magical beginnings go back to his childhood. Born in 1923, Colestock was a child of the Great Depression who quickly learned the value of work. When his father lost his job, the family sold their house, purchased a five-acre piece of property just west of Birmingham, and lived in a tent.
“Some business in Detroit took pity on us and gave us a house that was on their property if we tore it down and moved it,” remembers Colestock.
The oldest boy out of five siblings, he and his two brothers and father worked hard to rebuild that house during the summer of 1933. “I think that taught us the purpose of work that year,” says Colestock who learned the basics of being an electrician from his father. “I consider that one of the best lessons I ever had.”

MAGIC CALLS
As a reward for his work on the house, Colestock received a ticket from his father to attend a magic show. Harry Blackstone, Sr. was performing at the local theater.
“Harry called me up on the stage during the show,” recalls Colestock, “and he was quite fascinated that I had the same name he did. He made a big deal out of that and he did a couple tricks where I was the participant in the tricks. Well, I was hooked!”
To earn extra money as a child, Colestock took care of 35 muskrat traps along with milking the family’s cows and feeding the chickens.
“I would send away (for tricks). There was no magic shop at that time in Ann Arbor,” says Colestock. “Then I had to start inventing… because I didn’t have the money to buy them.” He did some magic shows at school and began to develop a real hobby.
In 1990 at a magic convention, Colestock introduced an automaton (robot) that looked just like magician Jay Marshall who performed a 15-minute skit featuring a rabbit puppet named Lefty (Marshall’s hand in disguise) who bantered with the magician. Colestock’s efforts granted him a lifetime membership into the Society of American Magicians and a meeting with Marshall, who was in the audience that day.
“He couldn’t believe I had built the automaton of him,” recalls Colestock. “He came up on stage afterwards and we had a real good meeting.” The automaton has since been donated to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan.
In 1992 Colestock was named Magician of the Year by the International Brotherhood of Magicians, of which he’s still a member. He spent nearly 15 years as president of the Ann Arbor Magic Club.

A MICHIGAN EDUCATION
After Colestock graduated valedictorian of his high school class in 1941, he attended Michigan State University on scholarship for a year and a half before being called away to fight in World War II. After three years as a member of the Air Transport Command in the U.S. Air Force, Colestock returned to college on the GI Bill, with a wife and son in tow. The availability of married housing at Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan campus and a job as an electrician in the Willow Run/Ypsilanti area guided his decision.
Graduating with a degree in electrical engineering in 1949, Colestock began his career in Schenectady, N.Y. testing products at General Electric. His wife’s homesickness brought the family back to Michigan after only two years. During Colestock’s varied career he worked with Bendix Aerospace Systems, Ingersoll-Rand, Burroughs Corporation and in Australia for General Motors’ Holden division. He received an MBA in 1973 from Indiana Northern University, now known as Valparaiso.

NO ROOM FOR FAILURE
The highlight of Colestock’s career was in the late 1950s when he was chief engineer at Burroughs Corporation. After a competition between the three largest computer manufacturers during that time – IBM, Burroughs and Remington-Rand – Burroughs was selected by NASA to design a computer that would not fail.
“How do you design something that will not fail?” recalls Colestock, after being taught all his life that at some point, everything fails. Turning his problem over to God – as Colestock still does for a tough one – he came up with a design that has been a pattern for super-reliable computers to this day. It was a design for the guidance computer for the Atlas missile used in 1962 to send John Glenn Jr. on the first manned U.S. orbital mission in space.
“People all over the world copied that design when they had to have a computer that was most resistant to failure,” says Colestock, proudly, pointing out that the Atlas missile guidance system was even used recently to send a missile to Saturn.
For a man who prides himself on his work ethic – one he’s instilled in both of his sons – it’s no surprise that Colestock has 42 patents credited to his name, most of them in circuit design. The most recent were awarded in the 1990s: a new type of heart pump designed with six surgeons from the University of Michigan Hospital and a product which melts a knot at the end of a suture, now manufactured in a Boston-area company.
UP NORTH
After the passing of his first wife in 2000, Colestock married Marilyn Stockwell, a fellow watercolor artist, in 2001. Marilyn’s love for the Walloon Lake area led the couple north in 2003, where they built their self-designed dream home on a lot with a view of Walloon Lake. Both are members of the Michigan Water Color Society, the Northern Michigan Chorale and the choir at the First Presbyterian Church.
Since the move, Colestock has performed over 30 magic shows for area schools and scouting troops, taking with him a black wooden case which turns into a free-standing magic platform full of tricks. Silk colored handkerchiefs, colored pom-poms and various card tricks are hidden within.
In May of 2005, Colestock’s first technical book, “Industrial Robotics,” was published by McGraw-Hill. It teaches businesses how to achieve maximum productivity with robotics and answers any questions people may have. Another book called, “How to Design and Build Your Own Automaton,” and a children’s book on magic are in the works, to go along with Colestock’s self-published book of poems.
At the age of 83, most retirees would feel they’ve given enough back to the community, but Colestock doesn’t share that sentiment. In one of his home workshops are remnants of his latest project: the light strands to illuminate several two-dimensional silhouettes designed by at-risk youth from Lakeview Academy for their upcoming exhibit.
“I believe God expects us to do something special with the lives he has given us, to be enthusiastic with the gifts we’ve been given and joyful in the sharing them with others.”
 
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