Miracles happen every day. We might not realize it at the time until looking back. Hindsight, so they say, is 20-20. At least that’s the way I see it, and Steve Ashton was part of that miracle for me.
You may have never heard of him. I hadn’t. When WordPerfect made its debut in the 1980s, I learned about a company called SoftCopy that was the main source of distribution for the best-selling word processing software back in those days. I had graduated from BYU just a year earlier and spent some time in Los Angeles pursuing a professional career there. The well-known mogul public relations avenue, Wilshire Boulevard, was my target, but a future there in that industry wasn’t to be. So we returned to Provo, Utah to make a go of it there. My wife and small family of two children found a small apartment home near BYU. I was hot on the job trail and interviewing at various companies. While I was still in the throes of looking for work, a woman from my mission to Finland knocked on our apartment door one evening. Talk about surprises! I never in my wildest dreams imagined this woman would ever look me up here in the US and drop in to say hello, let alone find me. My family had only been living there a short time, possibly a few weeks. We had a delightful conversation, and I was able to introduce Tintti Huttu to my wife and family. We shared stories of both our lives during the last couple years.
Well, before long, she explained that she needed a ride to the airport to catch her flight to Finland. Of course I consented and as we got in the car, she asked if we could stop by a missionary’s home on the way, so she could give a package to his family. This young man’s home was in the same area, and she had promised to deliver the package in his behalf, so we did.
When we knocked on their door and introduced ourselves, the family invited us in to chat for a few minutes. Of course, they wanted to hear all about their son, his mission, and meet a real, live Finn. We had a delightful discussion. They asked tons of questions. Steve and Marilyn were the most hospitable of hosts. Soon our visit concluded, and we were off to the airport.
Shortly thereafter, I applied for a position at WordPerfect. The competition was great. Though I was a lot younger in those days, technology was brand new and not yet my strongpoint. I was banking on this position at WordPerfect. I took the dreaded technology test as part of the application process. This was back in the days of DOS prompts, command line coding, formatting disks, and ASCII characters. It is now safe to say that I was out of my league. I had spent my college career using WordPerfect to write my papers, but understanding and using technical aspects of computers was at the time a little beyond my level of expertise. When I made the connection between Steve and his involvement with WordPerfect, I gathered the courage to ask him if he would put in a good word for me. As I remember, the phone conversation started as I began to awkwardly ask for his reference. He responded promptly to lessen my fear “Mathew, say no more. I know what you are asking and will call Claire in the morning.” Claire Averett was WordPerfect's Human Resource director at the time.
Needless to say, I got the job and spent 8 years working at WordPerfect. My position at the company wasn't the first job I had post-graduation, but it was definitely the most significant. It led to my life's work in the field of technology before the widespread use of personal computers, cell phones, and the Internet. I am only one of the hundreds, possibly thousands influenced for good by Steve Ashton.
Only one of many who were richly blessed, I will always acknowledge that Steve Ashton was and still is a miracle in my life.
For that, I am very grateful.