A resident of Walloon Lake, Harrys 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.
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 familys 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 didnt 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 (Marshalls hand in disguise) who bantered with the magician. Colestocks 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 couldnt 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 hes 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 Arbors 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 wifes homesickness brought the family back to Michigan after only two years. During Colestocks 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 Colestocks 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 hes instilled in both of his sons its 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.
After the passing of his first wife in 2000, Colestock married Marilyn Stockwell, a fellow watercolor artist, in 2001. Marilyns 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, Colestocks 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 childrens book on magic are in the works, to go along with Colestocks self-published book of poems.
At the age of 83, most retirees would feel theyve given enough back to the community, but Colestock doesnt 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 weve been given and joyful in the sharing them with others.