Edward Norman Munzer
June 30, 1918 – January 6, 2020
Edward Norman’s life was a matter of simple pleasures – love of family, love of country and of course, love of chocolate. Nevertheless, Dad always ordered vanilla ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. He thought that if all the other flavors were good, their vanilla had to be fabulous. Born in Rochester, New York, he grew up believing education was key.
He worked in maintenance at Howard Sterns earning 25 cents an hour, saving pennies towards a college education in Electronic Engineering. He entered the University of Iowa and there met the love of his life, Mary Elizabeth Snider.
In 1942, with degree in hand, Edward traveled to Washington D. C. and was classified as essential personnel in the Naval Research Laboratory, designing new electronic technologies – the Pulse and Modulation Analyzer used to detect German Glide Bomb attacks and fire control equipment on Navy ships during Kamikaze attacks on the US Fleet around Okinawa. While the war still raged, he married Mary Elizabeth and together, they started a family – two daughters, Annette Elizabeth and Evelyn Alice.
Eventually, Edward took a position at Rome Air Development Center, Griffiss Air Force Base, New York. Dad regaled his daughters with stories of those early war years – how the Canadians parachuted behind enemy lines bringing back vital German electronic equipment, how Winston Churchill watched a bar of soap float by in his bathtub and realized how troops could safely land on Omaha Beach and tales of ordinary British citizens who had their fishing boats strung with Suzy Cloth – a metal material that reflected radar. These unsung heroes and heroines set out to act as decoys to distract the Germans from the true landing of the Allied Armed Forces. Acts of bravery and sacrifice were our bedtime stories, lessons in life that he gave to us. And indeed, our last conversation was about the war. “We did our best for our young men and women,” said Dad. “War should be avoided; the incredible loss of life is not worth it. They had so much to give, so much that they could have contributed, all lost, all gone.”
For his work, he was decorated twice for Exceptional and Meritorious Civilian Service to the Department of the Air Force and he received the Technology Medal for Significant and Meritorious Contributions Involving Electronic Warfare Technical Areas by the Association of the Old Crows.
Tucked away in his drawer was an excerpt of a poem, Virtue by George Herbert. Written on a scrap of paper by Mom, it was cherished by Dad who was our oak.
Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye;
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie;
My music shows ye have your closes,
And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like season'd timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.