A 16-YEAR-old Tim Lyke shakes hands in 1976 with the man who unwittingly inspired his father, Doug,  to leave a public relations job in Chicago and move to Ripon. John Glenn was in his second year of a 24-year career in the U.S. Senate when this photo was taken.				        submitted photo
A 16-YEAR-old Tim Lyke shakes hands in 1976 with the man who unwittingly inspired his father, Doug, to leave a public relations job in Chicago and move to Ripon. John Glenn was in his second year of a 24-year career in the U.S. Senate when this photo was taken. submitted photo

     I THANK JOHN GLENN that I live in Ripon.

     Literally.

     The first human being to orbit the earth, who died last week Thursday at age 95, never recommended that the Lykes plant their flag in a rural Wisconsin college town.

     But he motivated my father.

     Here’s what happened, according to my dad in an interview with former University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Marshall Cook, given in 1992, 10 years before Dad died. ...

     Every weekday, Dad took the train in to the Chicago “loop” and walked to his office, where he was president of Financial Advertising Inc., a one-man firm that was part of a three-person public relations shop. ... Then came Feb. 20, 1962, the day Friendship 7 circled the globe with an Ohio fellow 10 years dad’s senior in the payload.  

     Here’s how Cook tells the story:

     “John Glenn was circling the earth. Doug Lyke was writing ‘executive wanted’ ads for insertion in the Wall Street Journal. Lyke remembers staring out the window and thinking, ‘There must be more to life.’”

     While dad looked up in the sky, fantasizing about his own “what-if,” Glenn was circling the earth three times.

     Three days later, my mother had her fourth child, all of us under age 7. Eight months after that, the Lykes loaded their brood into the station wagon and drove north to Ripon.

     So thank you, John Glenn, for causing my father to believe that he could slip the surly bonds of Chicago and touch the face of the GOP birthplace. ...

     I wonder how many others John Glenn will never know he inspired. 

     To read the entire column, see the Dec. 15, 2016 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.