Miracles happen every day. We might not realize it at the time, buy looking back with hindsight, so they say, is 20-20. At least that’s the way I see it, and Steve Ashton was part of that 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. My family had only been living there a few months, possibly a few weeks. We had a delightful conversation, and I was able to introduce Tintti to my wife and family, and we shared stories of our lives during the last couple years.
Well, before long, she explained she needed a ride to the airport so she could catch her flight back to Finland. I of course consented and as we got in the car, she asked if we could stop by a missionary’s home, so she could drop off a package to his family. This young man’s home was in the area, and she had promised to deliver the package to them 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 about their son, his mission, and meet a real, live Finn. We had a delightful discussion and they asked many 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 had however recently applied for a 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 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 when. He spoke to lessen my fear and responded “Mathew, say no more. I know what you are asking and will call Claire in the morning.” Claire Averett was the Human Resource director at WordPerfect 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 my life's work into 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 hundreds richly blessed, I will always acknowledge that Steve Ashton was and still is a miracle in my life.
For that I am very grateful.