top of page

"El Loco Rises"
created by
Michael McCaffery

Updated March 9, 2023

Thanks and Acknowledgements

As I begin to tidy up my affairs for my forthcoming adventures, it  seems like an appropriate time to acknowledge all those who have contributed to my life and successes, while also reminding myself that my failures were solely due to my often inappropriate choices and actions, even if done with little thought and no malice.


Luckily for me, I choose to view my successes as having greater weight than the failures, although I learned far more useful lessons from the latter than the former.


As always, the list is long, and I likely will fail to give full credit to all the many who have made contributions, yet the need is strong in me to attempt to do this justice.  I will of course use some inappropriate humor, as always, and attempt to keep it all light and understandable and airy and maybe even useful.   


I also doubt that I will create the complete list, and will make some errors, yet it is important for all reading this to understand that the successes are due in large part to those who helped me along (whether at the time realized or not) and the failures are mine alone.

My wife, Liz Dunn, has been my strength and anchor since we met and later married, which now seems like a very long time ago.   She is the one who coaches, praises, loves, listens, cajoles, and also reminds me that I can do better, and that I should not be so hard on myself, since she can do a far better job of that than I can.  She is my partner, my friend, my lover, my confidant, and the source of all good things in my life.   


Further, rather than attempt to list all who I can think of who have contributed to who I am now (they are innumerable), I will list some of those I can remember, and who will not be unnecessarily embarrassed in what will be a whimsical yet hopefully poignant and heartfelt stream-of-consciousness effort.  It seems that all I write now is “stream-of-consciousness,” which to me simply means “in the moment” with little thinking of the impact and effect they will have.  I will apologize in advance for my forthcoming errors (as I have tried to do for my past errors), and suggest to the Reader a lighthearted and whimsical approach to reading what I have written herein, and I shall endeavor to do the same.


Okay, enough of the apologies and jargon to keep the lawyers at bay and to soften up and prepare the Reader, so let’s begin with a light heart, great humor, open mind, and lots of perspective and gobs of tolerance.

As I descend somewhat more rapidly than planned into my last stage of life, I find perspective and humor to be absolutely necessary.   I will also warn the Reader that this may not play out as even I intend as write this, and you the Reader may be surprised, while being simultaneously entertained and perhaps a bit unsettled.

Parents And Friends


Harold Bernard McCaffery and Ethel Slay were my parents who raised me until their untimely death one month apart when I had just turned sixteen and had just graduated from high school.  They died of separate causes, mostly self-created, related to alcohol and tobacco use from an early age.  Harold was born in Philadelphia in 1901, and Ethel in Florida in 1915 in very modest circumstances.  One was schooled until the sixth grade, the other until the third grade.   


Things were quite different at the beginning of the last century, yet both became self-educated, with Ethel being a housewife (very common in those days) and Harold an accountant for the Louisville and Nashville railroad in both Alabama and Kentucky.  They were successful by their own standards and those of the times.  They met at the funeral of Ethel’s first husband, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot while in bed with my mother in the wee hours of the morning.  They both struggled with alcohol their whole lives, as I have.   There was a good bit of drama in their lives, and they lived it avidly and robustly.  I have had alcohol issues since age 15, and finally succeeded in my abstention for over eight months now, and it has made a huge difference in the quality of my life.


My memory of them is of a loving and nurturing environment, and they encouraged me to study, to do well, to be respectful of others, to enjoy the gift of life, and to treat all humans with love and understanding.  We all did our best to do that, often failing, yet always trying, and sometimes succeeding.


Their deaths right after my high school graduation was devastating, I was suddenly alone with numbness, pain, and fear, yet my changed circumstances resulted in my National Merit Scholarship to the University of Louisville to be increased substantially, so that a few months later I matriculated into the Speed Scientific School of the University of Louisville, living in the dormitory, where my life almost instantly changed forever for the better.


During that time and before, my elementary school principal in Louisville, Josephine McKee, took an interest in me, mentored me, and became an invaluable resource during the difficult years around the time of my parents death.  Without her support, counseling, and guidance, I would have had little inspiration to continue on and ultimately become successful.

It was at college at the University of Louisville that I met two of my lifelong friends, Ray Kulbitskas and John “Dugan” Shipway.   They, among many others, were instrumental in making me who I am today (at least the good parts).  We all studied hard, partied together, became officers in our engineering fraternity, and were later successful, while supporting each other in a 1950’s masculine way, and we remain very good friends to this day.  Both of them went on to stellar careers in engineering and management, with Dugan becoming a Navy submarine admiral and later President and Board Chairman of a major well-known shipbuilder, and Ray becoming an engineer, scientist, and manager in various high-tech industries while maintaining and nurturing a large high-achieving family.  All of us became successful by our own standards later in life, whether in careers or family life.  John (or "Dugan" as he preferred to be called) passed away very recently, and he will be missed by many.  


Gary Spanyer, Gordy Spence, and Charlie Brown, among others, were other successful friends and classmates with whom I have maintained communication to this day, and their ongoing friendships over these many years helped me make it through those difficult times and on into the present.  They all were hugely impactful and successful in their respective careers, and we all remain friends until this day.  I am very lucky to have had them choose me as one of their many friends.




Liz Dunn (Elizabeth June Dunn) and I met in Bend, Oregon about ten years ago, and we became fast friends, and ultimately married.  She is my best friend, mentor, guardian, overseer, lover, stand-in sister, and counselor, and highly effective ass-kicker when needed, which can be quite often.   She knows all the bad things about me, yet still loves and tolerates me and chooses to live with me, despite my shenanigans, bad jokes, inappropriate humor, and occasional misdirected anger.  Her ability to tolerate me puts her on a list next to each and every all time saint and heroine.   She has managed major health-care organizations, and is the one responsible for my still being alive today.   She is an all-purpose friend and advisor, she knows all the bad stuff about me, yet continues to keep me company, and I owe my life to her, literally.  It gets no better than that.


Prior to that, my first wife, named Carol Carroll (the name was subject to endless joking), came into my life in San Francisco, and we were dating when Werner Erhard came into both our lives in 1970 and changed us forever.   Werner was the founder of the “est training,” later becoming Landmark Education, and we learned to become fully ourselves, and to fully express and utilize all those hidden traits that ultimately led to our becoming successful in our own individual fields.  


Carol later became a member of Werner Erhard’s staff, worked closely with him, and was amazingly transformed through her work with him into someone who made a huge difference in many people’s lives through her work with Werner and his various growth organizations, leading many huge seminars and speaking impactfully to large numbers of people throughout her career.


It is difficult, I think, to start listing people who have made an impact on my life, since it is too easy to omit people who should be named, yet it is important for me to remember that whatever I did, and whatever success I had, is due to those who came though my life.  I am blessed beyond belief, and honored to be living the life I have lived, and I will 

leave it sometime in the future with appreciation and thanks for those who let me stand on their shoulders to see a different view of the nature of life, which led to whatever success and enjoyment I have had. 


Other mentors and friends are Leo Zeff (now deceased) and Noel Hurd, both of whom were instrumental in working with me during challenging, difficult, and interesting times, and both of them made a huge difference in my ability to navigate life and become a warm, open, thoughtful, perceptive, loving, and successful human being.  I thank and honor them both.


I am very fortunate and quite a lucky guy.


Michael McCaffery

Santa Fe NM

bottom of page