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Jude's avatar

Did someone in your family accomplish something great. If so, what was it?

Asked by Jude (31966 points ) August 15th, 2010

My Grandma was one of 14 kids. One set of twins.

Here is the story on one younger brother, Raymond (Here is he with his wife and son). He passed away in June of this year. He was such cool gentleman.

“Professor Ray Beachey, who died on July 10 aged 94, encouraged the hopes of a generation of East African leaders as head of History at Makerere University in Uganda during the 1950s and early 1960s. A quiet believer in the benefits of the British Empire, he liked to refer to Makere as a crossroads of the world. His students included Benedicto Kiwanuka, Uganda’s first prime minister; Yusuf Lule, the country’s provisional president in 1979; and Mwai Kibaki, the current Kenyan president, all of whom had an avidity for learning that was not matched by Beachey’s students in his native Canada. Among his colleagues were the writers VS Naipaul and Paul Theroux, who referred to Beachey as the “gentle Canadian” in his travelogue Dark Star Safari.

When Beachey left Uganda in 1968 he was adamant that the country was not ready for independence. Returning twice to Makerere in later years he saw how Idi Amin’s distrust of learning had led to looting and the burning of books. He was badly shaken by the murder of Kiwanuka and by a meeting with a former African colleague who had been tortured by Milton Obote’s forces and pleaded for the British to return.

Raymond Wendell Beachey was born on October 24 1915 at Trout Creek, northern Ontario, where one of his earliest memories was waving goodbye to his uncles as they cheerily marched off to war in 1918.
He was educated in a one-room wooden schoolhouse, and brought up on a diet consisting largely of salmon – leaving him unable to eat fish in later life. He worked in logging camps to pay his way through high school, then found employment at the finance department in Ottawa, before joining the RCAF on the outbreak of war. He served as a sergeant navigator with Coastal Command and Bomber Command; but when his best friend, a rear gunner, was killed he became deeply depressed, refused to salute an officer and was sent to a psychiatric unit.

After marrying Ursula Molloy, with whom he was to have four children, Beachey returned to Canada, where he studied History at Queen’s University, Ontario, then did a PhD on Imperial History at Edinburgh before going to Makere.
After leaving Africa he became a senior lecturer at King’s College, London, then Professor of History at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, before finally retiring to Hampshire in 1978 with the collection of Persian carpets which he had amassed on visits to Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Ray Beachey’s books included The British West Indies Sugar Industry in the Late 19th Century (1957) and The Slave Trade of Eastern Africa (1976), the result of two summers’ research in Zanzibar. He also produced The Warrior Mullah (1990), a lively study of Mohammed Abdille Hassan, a ruthless dervish in Somaliland during the early 1920s, and A History of East Africa, 1592–1902 (1995).”

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24 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

According to the Pennington Legend, a great, great, great grandfather of mine, invented the airplane. the Wright Brothers were first to fly his invented aircraft, but they did not invent it. i have a copyright number, but have been unable to verify its authenticity. wouldn’t it be great(and profitable), if this tale could be proven?

Cruiser's avatar

I have always admired my sister who is now a Colonel in the Air Force. She served in Desert Storm and currently is still active flying into hurricanes and predicting their paths of travel.

Frenchfry's avatar

I have a Uncle ( not sure on how many greats) that helped invent Gasahol. Most of my family was bootleggers I am afraid. That does not make you famous, LOL

AC's avatar

I guess you have to define greatness.

My Mother was so ill after giving birth to my older sister that they (the Doctors) told my father she would not make it through the night. She did.

Having pulled through they told her she could have no more children because it would kill her.

She ignored them and I am here.

Despite all these odds, and a lung disease that brought her to death’s door many times during my formative years, my mother always vowed she would wait to go once my sister and I could take care of ourselves.

We were 27 and 29 respectively, had set up homes and were in the thick of forging our careers when she decided the time was right.

Mum was 51 and considering her health had lived a very long and fruitful life.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

Well for my grandparents to raise me to the person I am now and Also for my mum for being a good parent. dissapointed with my dad he left me when I was very young.
And for mum willing to finish her studies, right now we are in Denmark where she’s taking her last course/semester of Business Management.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

My great-great-great grandfather was the 19th Vice-President of the U.S. He was selected to be Hayes running mate solely on the basis of personal integrity. As a Congressman, he once voted against an appropriation for his own district.

A great uncle (considered a black sheep in the family; a liberal Democrat) who was a four-term Senator from Montana. He ran unsuccessfully for Vice-President on the Progressive ticket, was an early supporter of FDRs New Deal but broke with him over court-packing and foreign policy. He became famous as a leading figure in the America First movement; his most famous quote, in November 1941, being “the Japanese would be crazy to attack us”.

Another great uncle, a physicist, was a colleague of Einstein. He is credited with coining the term “black hole”. He died a few years ago at age 96.

An uncle who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the height of the Vietnam War, criticized by historians for carrying out LBJs policy of escalating the war.

My father, a naval aviator, had the distinction of being a fighter ace in two wars, 11 Japanese and 6 North Korean aircraft fell to his guns.

MacBean's avatar

I’m related to Grover Cleveland. Other than that, my family just has a bunch of really cool people, but nobody especially famous.

lynfromnm's avatar

Love your great-uncle’s story. I think most families do have an ancestor or even a current member who has done something great.
My great-great-great-great uncle founded Princeton University.
My greatX4 grandfather and his twin brother secretly stored arms for Revolutionary soldiers in the basement of their tavern in Virginia.
Other things I consider great, if not historic:
My father overcame a childhood of neglect and abuse to become a worthy and honored parent.
My mother overcame bulbar polio to raise three children and give us all the love imaginable.
My 2nd cousin, who lost his leg to an IED, began a foundation for re-integration of veterans into civilian life.
I’m sure great things will be coming from others as they grow.

JilltheTooth's avatar

This was my Dad’s cousin., he was an interesting and funny man who never took his heroism or his wooden leg too seriously. I got to know him fairly well, and was always impressed by his dedication and humor. He went on to distinguish himself in many more ways after Pearl Harbor, but he is best known for this.

Joseph K. Taussig, Jr. ‘41 received the Navy Cross for heroism on board USS Nevada (BB 36) at Pearl Harbor. He was perhaps best known as the officer of the deck aboard Nevada when Japanese planes attacked “Battleship Row” on Dec. 7, 1941. Fourteen bombs hit Nevada that day; 43 people were killed and 118 wounded. After sounding the alert on his ship, the 21-year-old ensign manned a starboard anti-aircraft gun and refused to leave his post after taking a hit to his left leg. In his own words, “I was directing fire at the outset of the attack when I don’t know what hit me, something went completely through my thigh. They ordered a cot for me, and I just continued to control the gun batteries. Some enlisted men brought a stretcher and I stayed up there until the (ship’s) whole structure caught fire. They brought me down through the fire. The Navy said I was decorated because I refused to leave my post.”

JilltheTooth's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land : well, Wow….just…wow.

zannajune's avatar

My grandpa was known as the father of the spacesuit used by Nasa. Here’s his obituary in the NY Times.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t think there’s any publicly recognized achievement anywhere in my family for as far back as you want to go, other than a few modest publications, awards of recognition and acknowledged stature within a particular community or field of endeavor, minor local celebrity, and, of course, admirable personal accomplishments. No fame or renown, no significant titles, no Congressional medals or photos with the president, the queen, or any other personage. Just ordinary citizens all the way.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I think, @Jeruba , that you are a great accomplishment, in and of yourself!

mandybookworm's avatar

apperantly someone in my family signed the declaration of independance… I don’t know who is was though, and weather it’s accurate or not. My Great Grandfather was a rum runner though.

downtide's avatar

Several unsung heroes. Many of my ancestors were fishermen, and in their time off they also served in the local lifeboat service. The number of lives they’ve saved isn’t documented but I’m sure it must be many.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

My great-great-grandfather served seven terms as mayor of his city. My grandfather survived the sinking of two ships in the merchant navy in WWII, one by torpedo and one bombing. Apart from that my family’s greatest achievement is to progress from largely uneducated ancestors to having an uncle, a cousin and my father all teaching in universities, and almost every other family member also being involved in education.

Then there is the distant ancestor who was a highwayman, but that isn’t really a great accomplishment.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s minor really…I’m related to Betsy Ross on Mom’s side of the family. She is credited for making a flag. Since it is now up for debate, I take it with a grain of salt. We are still related to her though. An aunt has the genealogy records.

rebbel's avatar

My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-........-great-grandparents from Africa started a family once and supposedly we are all offspring of them….
Ah, and my little brother, for some years, was the spokesman for the soon to be lets hope not new Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

amazingme's avatar

My 8th cousin twice removed is Richard Nixon (yeah I know, of all presidents)...
I am related to one of the original pilgrims (as I am sure many are). I think it is very courageous to leave your homeland for an unfamiliar land.
I am related to one of the guys that invented TI Calculators.
On my father’s side of the family who lived in the south during the underground railroad oversaw stops for it.
My great (multiple greats) grandfather on my father’s side was a POW during the Revolutionary War. He was taken to a prison (I think) in Canada and had to survive by eating a dog.
And I’m not sure if this is something they did that is great or not, but my ancestors are the Van Tassel’s from Sleepy Hollow. Washington Irving was inspired by them for his novel, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In fact thats my surname also. :D

Jeruba's avatar

Eighth cousin twice removed? That’s hardly related at all. It means you have a single common ancestor, what, seven generations ago? about a century and a half? Go back that far and probably an awful lot of us are cousins. So I wouldn’t worry too much about being tainted.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a short story.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’ve been told that my great grand mother was related to the Romanoff family – that’s not an accomplishment, just something that came to mind.

YARNLADY's avatar

My Great – Great Grandmother was a Choctaw interpreter for the U. S. Government. My father is related to the Disney family by marriage and Dad was also the president of the Society of American Magicians in Denver, Colorado.

amazingme's avatar

@Jeruba Yeah, I know. Barely related..but still related. sad face. hahhaa.
Oh and yeah I know it’s a short story, whooops, don’t know why I put novel.

Jude's avatar

Well, it looks as though I have found a relative of mine with this question. :)

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