He writes, travel while raising 2 little girls

September 02, 2005|By BILL ATKINSON

LOU GALAMBOS has written or edited more than 20 books. He was editor or co-editor of 16 volumes of The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower - a labor of love that took him 29 years to complete. He is recognized as one of the nation's top business historians. He even keeps Post-it Notes by his bedside in case he wakes up in the middle of the night with an idea.

Yet, for all of his accomplishments, the Johns Hopkins University professor sees his biggest challenge now, in raising his kids. At 74, he is a single father of two girls, 7 and 6, and they can run him ragged.

"I usually have given it all by the end of the week," Galambos said. "It is trying to think about what you are doing on a manuscript that day and also to remember to buy milk."

Three years ago, Galambos' wife, Jane Sewell, a former Johns Hopkins lecturer who co-authored a book with him, was struck and killed by a truck while crossing a street in Santa Fe, N.M., where the two were on vacation.

"She was only 42," he said over lunch at the Hopkins Club. "It was a horrible, terrible kind of accident. It was such a stunning thing to lose somebody."

He pauses to gather himself before recalling what it was like to come home and tell the children.

"That still breaks me up," he said. "You don't want to ever do that. I had to help my daughters right away. You don't sit around and grieve, you get busy. You have one day, maybe two days [to grieve], you have got a new life to deal with."

At an age most men are retired, puttering around the house and set in their ways, Galambos was forced to change.

Instead of getting up at 5 a.m. and writing, he now rolls out of bed at 5:45 a.m., gets ready for work, slugs down tea and coffee for the "caffeine jolt," and has the girls ready for school by 7:30 a.m. During the school year, he gets home around 5 p.m. and fixes dinner.

He has cut back travel, doesn't attend as many conferences as he used to and, if he has a speech in another city, he delivers it and catches the next flight home. When he travels overseas he takes his daughters, Katherine, 7, and Emma, 6, with him. They've been to Florence and Milan, Italy, and London.

Galambos has a nanny, a backup nanny and an extensive support system, which include his two older daughters from his first marriage. They have moved to the area to help out.

His oldest daughter, Denise Galambos, an attorney at Constellation Energy, sits down with him each Sunday night after dinner and maps out the week's schedule at the dining room table.

"It is never uncomplicated," said Jennifer Galambos, who moved to Rockville a year ago from Connecticut to help. "He is remarkably organized."

Denise Galambos has a 6-year-old daughter, Haley, who is in the same grade at Friends School with Emma. [Katherine attends the school, too.] She shares a nanny with her father, who combs the girls' hair and lays out their clothes for the next day.

"I have to keep a schedule as to where the girls are at all times," Lou Galambos said. "If I don't keep it written down I get lost."

Last year, he forgot to pick up Katherine at yoga after school.

"That was one of the days I dropped the ball," he said.

There are soccer games to attend, ballet practices, swimming meets, T-ball games and birthday parties.

"You have to be able to shift gears suddenly, stop thinking about the third industrial revolution and start thinking about a birthday you have to go to for that little girl," he said. "You are going to an endless round of birthday parties."

Each night he reads to his girls, helps them with their homework, watches Sponge Bob with them and knows almost all the words to Kidz Bop 7. He is teaching both kids to play squash and he has one rule: "No whining."

Yet, he is driven at work.

"He has still got quite a bit of spring, a rather high output kind of guy," said Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Hopkins who co-runs the Institute for Applied Economics and the Study of Business Enterprise with Galambos.

Hanke, who worked last weekend, saw Galambos in the office Saturday night and on Sunday "grinding away."

"He is just very disciplined and organized. In his case it is long hours and high output," Hanke said.

How disciplined? About two years after Galambos' wife died, he finished a book about Roy Vagelos, the son of Greek immigrants who became CEO of Merck & Co., the big drugmaker. Galambos dedicated the book to Jane Sewell.

"I had Roy involved, I felt very responsible to him," Galambos said. "You have to keep going in life."

Galambos has another book in the works and expects to complete it next year. Then, he's got eight or nine other ideas in mind, including an op-ed piece on Carly Fiorina, the ousted CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

"This is the only society in the world in which a woman could have that high of a position in a high-tech business firm. She broke the glass ceiling," he said.

But at home pressure is mounting. The girls want their father to buy them Floam, a gooey, fluorescent substance that sticks to anything and can be molded into different shapes.

"I have been under this pressure for a week," Galambos said. "They have put the [1-800] number out on the kitchen table so I can call."

They're also trying to soften him up so he'll get them a dog.

"I said we will get a dog when I retire," Galambos said. "I have no thought of retiring."

Bill Atkinson's column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 410-332-6961 or by e-mail at bill.atkinson@baltsun .com.

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