I have thought about my father, John Somerville Ruenitz, frequently as the the Covid-19 vaccines have been deployed over the last six months. He did not have a smallpox vaccination scar on his shoulder. He survived smallpox during basic training in the navy. It was the milder type, and his entire unit was quarantined for a month. The only places that I ever noticed the scars were around the knuckle joints of his hands.
My father would be 111 this month. He liked to boast his birthday on the 25th was the farthest day from Christmas. No chance of aunties giving him a gift for both birthday and the holiday. After graduating from William Mitchell Law School, he was a lawyer for over 40 years in Windom, Minnesota. For a while, his law office had the distinction of having the first phone number, #1. And I could go on and on with the stories and how they affected me throughout my life.
Here are a few facts. He was born in Los Angeles, but grew up in Springfield, Minnesota. Like everyone in my family born in Los Angeles, he was left handed. Those born in Windom were right handed. After high school, he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Experimental College in Madison. The banner shows him with fellow members of the Theta Xi fraternity (He’s third from the right in the front row). Coincidentally, one of his classmates at the University was a member of the United Nations Smallpox Eradication Program in the 1960s.