I met my future wife, Wendy, in college. A trained concert pianist, Wendy was studying to be a music teacher. I was also a music student, though not quite as focused as Wendy. On the advice of an advisor, I joined the choir. As luck would have it, Wendy was the musical accompanist. The rest, as they say, is history, and we tied the knot in 1971.
Back then, little was known about cystic fibrosis -- and what we did know was heartbreaking. When Wendy was diagnosed at age 2, her parents were told that she wouldn't live to celebrate her third birthday. But thanks to smart decisions and a bit of luck, Wendy defied the odds and lived to be 61.
Throughout our life together, Wendy watched her diet and lived life to the fullest, accompanying me as I traveled the world as a construction company executive. Although we were living near smog-plagued Los Angeles, we were fortunate enough to relocate to Laguna Beach, Calif., to be closer to the ocean and fresh ocean air.
We frequently attended CF fundraisers, and our involvement with the CF community taught us an important lesson that continues to guide me to this day: We must fund our own drug development because many major drug companies are simply not as willing to invest in less common diseases -- even well-known ones like CF.
Raising money for CF research became our mission in life. I persuaded my company's board of directors to establish a golf tournament to benefit CF research. The tournament celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Each year in our marketing materials, we feature a hand-drawn picture by a child with CF. I have every one of those drawings in my library today.
When we married, the predicted median survival age for someone with CF was 15; Wendy was already 24. We were the direct beneficiaries of research investments made years earlier. We wanted to continue that trend, and we kept our focus on fundraising.
Wendy passed away eight years ago, but I continue to raise funds for CF to keep her memory alive. Every year, I make a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Wendy's name -- and I've also decided to leave a portion of my trust to the Foundation.
The funds are earmarked for research to help people like Wendy have a better quality of life. I've seen such improvements in my lifetime, so I have hope that we will find a cure. In the meantime, I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I am leaving a legacy to a good cause and helping to make progress after my lifetime.