Genealogical Amusements

 

 

Geoffrey Chaucer is my 17th grandfather. You may trace the exact lineage here.

 

Eleanor of Aquitaine is my 24th grandmother. You may trace the exact lineage here, where you will also note a number of kings of England in this line.

 

Charlemagne is my 36th grandfather, hence, his mother, Bertrada, Queen of the Franks, is my 37th grandmother.

 

My paternal grandfather, Frank O'Rourke, was a prolific writer of westerns, baseball stories, and essays. Three of his westerns were made into movies: The Bravados (one of the first NBC movies of the week), The Professionals, and The Great Bank Robbery. Frank O'Rourke, by the way, was his pseudonym; his real name was Frank Maurice Phillips.

The greatest kicker in the history of the NFL, Adam Vinatieri, is my second cousin. He and I are both the great-grandchildren of Justina and William Goeken, who settled in the hard-scrabble South Dakota of the early 1900's. Adam's mother and my mother are first cousins. Tim Foecke, a metallurgist with the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, and the originator of the “rivet theory” to explain the rapid sinking of the Titanic, is my second cousin, again, via Justina and William Goeken. Evel Knievel and Pawnee Bill are more distant cousins from this side of the family. My Great Great Great Grandfather (Wilhelm) Goeken and Evel Kneivel's Great Great Grandmother (Gertrude) Kneivel were siblings. My Great Great Great Grandfather Lillie and Pawnee Bill's Grandfather Lillie were brothers.


My cousin-once-removed (i.e., my father's cousin), is Mark Pfeil, the longtime trainer for the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era. He ended his career with the Milwaukee Bucks. During his years with the Bucks, Cathy and I lived in the Bay Area. When the Bucks would come to town to play the Golden State Warriors, Mark would give us his two comp tickets, and we would watch the game courtside from the Bucks' small section (mostly with the showy Bay Area girlfriends of the Bucks' players; apparently the players had concubines in each NBA city!) at the Oakland Coliseum. It was great fun. Mark began his career, by the way, as the student trainer for the 1971 national champion Nebraska Cornhuskers football team, speaking of which, here is a photo, taken in Omaha in the fall of 2013, of my father with two of the stars on that team—Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rogers and all-American quarterback Jerry Tagge. Also in the photo is Jerry Murtaugh, all-American linebacker from the previous year’s National Championship Husker team.

 

My cousin, Jane DeLaubenfels (daughter of my mother’s sister, Sharon), interviewed our grandmother, Veronica Lillie, in Yankton, South Dakota on 9 July 2004, when Grandma was 89 years old. Grandma died just over ten years later, on 22 August 2014, exactly 46 days shy of her 100th birthday. Here is part I of Jane’s interview with this remarkable woman, and here is part II.

My "mathematical grandfather", i.e., my thesis advisor's thesis advisor, is J. H. Conway, one of the world's most prominent mathematicians.

My Erdos number is 2. Here is a list of people with Erdos number 2. Two is a good Erdos number. In fact, now that Erdos is dead, 2 can't be improved upon, except perhaps by Mark Twain.