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              M. Michael Appleman

In Appreciation

Dad worked form more than thirty years teaching biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Southern California, where he started in 1967.  In the 1970s he did much research and co-authored many scientific papers (+).  In those days, one could not just go on the Internet and look up research in the field; you mailed off a reprint request to the author.  For his work Michale received papers from universities around the world; he brought the envelopes home and mom would get the stamps from them. 
There were classes to prepare for, lectures to attend, and grant proposals to work on.  Michael was very involved in the politics of the department and served for a time as chairman.  As an educator he sought to popularize knowledge of science.  For example he started the USCience program, which reached out to the community, co-authored a book on AIDS in 1991, introduced a course on science in the media, and a course with the business school on biotechnology.   For many years his office and lab were on the third floor of the Ahmanson building, as chair he was in the Hancock bulding, and later he had an office in a nearby building.  His office could get quite messy with piles of papers everywhere, plus he often picked up stuff that was being discarded, such as interesting but outmoded pieces of equipment.  Sometimes Pad and Mom would put on a dinner for people at work, bringing out the wooden table, placemats, and fancy plates.  For about a decade, Mom managed the chemistry stockroom at U.S.C. so Michael drove them both in to work. 

The commute was a downside of working at U.S.C.; it meant at least 35 minutes on the freeway every morning and evening.  In 1973-74 Michael took a sabbatical at the University of Otago in Dunedin.  Here it was an easy walk to work.  Not having to do a long commute can really make a difference in quality of life.  In the evening we would sometimes to walk to the port and see what ships were in.  Also there was no TV; instead it was the radio, where we'd catch, among other things Alistar Cooke's "Letter from America."  In 1981 Michael too a sabbatical at the Australian National University in Canberra.  Here again he could walk to work.

In L.A. on Sunday mornings Pad would often take us down to the beach for a walk.  We collected toy army men and tennis balls and aluminum cans for recycling; sometimes we might spot a small shark, a foot long or so, in the surf.  Afterwards Pad would often make pancakes or waffles for breakfast or sometimes there were donuts.  On Sunday evening Granddaddy would come over for dinner; Pad did the cooking.  

There were quite a few camping trips to the Sierras and the desert.  Mom packed the VW van, and Pad did the driving.  Pad also did the cooking, pumping up the Coleman stove in the morning to heat up the water and fry bread for breakfast and again in the evening to make dinner.  Mom and Pad also attended reunions of the UC Berkeley Hiking Club for many years.

Pad could be quite handy around the house, whether in small projects like replacing a switch or larger projects like installing the tongue and groove ceilings or building the deck out back.
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Pad was always there for me.  For a while I was getting bee allergy shots at Kaiser and he would pick me up.  Later it took me more than a decade and four schools to get me degree, so I was in L.A. quite a bit. 
When I came into LAX from school or elsewhere, he and mom would be there to pick me up.  He also drove me to occasional political events.  Pad would make dinner for me as well, eggs in a special way or tofu.  In the evening  we would often go for a walk and try to sort things out. 

The last seven or eight years were difficult.  For years Pad did walk with a bit of a tilt.  There was a knee replacement and prostate surgery.  For a while he used a cane, then a walker and then a wheelchair.  Mom really did a good job of holding things together.  They'd go for walks and gather bottles for recycling.  When I was around I'd go for walks with him, and even when he was in a wheelchair, I'd try to get him out.  Pad was bedridden for four or five years.  Although he did spend several months in a convalescent facility, fortunately we were able to bring him home and keep him going thanks to good caregivers.  One could still catch occasional glimpses of Pad, and it must be said that he did maintain a healthy appetite right up to the end. 

Thank you, Pad.



May 2011 - An outing to Mt. Wilson.