Reflections of a CIO’s Grandmother

My first blog of the New Year was supposed to be about looking forward.  It was supposed to be about plans, hopes, goals, and ambitions.  I planned to pen that blog this weekend.  However, I got diverted into family obligations related to celebrating my grandmother’s 96th birthday.  I made her favorite Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls and Baptist Pound Cake.  It was about Fried Chicken and Macaroni and Cheese.  Yes, I would do my blog later.  Yesterday was all about Mama.  She died today.

The NASA CIO blog is about leadership, technology, and innovation.  This one will be easy to write.  I will tell you what I learned about leadership, technology and innovation from my grandmother.

Expert communicator.  My grandfather was stationed in Germany twice and my grandmother learned to be a great communicator in German.  While we were in elementary school, she taught us little niceties to say in German.  She was also fluent in sign language.  We used to joke that Mama didn’t let the fact that you couldn’t hear her to keep her from talking! She was able to rise above most communication barriers and be a great conversationalist.

Creative.  Mama could crochet, knit, sew, and do needlepoint.  She could also do ceramics.  She taught this lefty how to crochet left-handed and how to knit right-handed; and most of all, how to use a pair of right-handed pinking shears. 

Resourceful.  She could do dry-wall, plastering, plumbing, shoe repair, masonry, and basic auto mechanics.  She could heal any boo-boo and I still believe that she could do minor surgery.  My sister Lisa and I were cleaning out her closet and found spike heel patent leather shoes and a battlefield dental repair kit.  Somehow that was related, but we couldn’t quite figure out how.

Courageous. She was brave.  I saw her go up against a pit bull … and win.  I was in the car with her as she got pulled over by MPs speeding in an Alpha Romeo … she won.  Pictured here, she was alone as a minority and President of the Officer’s Wives Club – a first.  In a foreign country, learning the language, she stepped up to the task.  I saw fear in her eyes and I saw her courage.  Oh, and she made her dress and gloves.  Corona Dash - President of Officer's Wive's Club

She raised a daughter who was a marksman who raised a daughter that was a CIO.  I’m sure that’s related too, but I can’t quite figure out how.  Technology, fruit trees, things my mother taught me about being a CIO … my grandmother was always there. 

My last conversation with her last night was about technology and the Consumer Electronics Show.  I told her and my grandfather about how grandparents could stay connected with their grandchildren through text messaging and the new PDAs.  Mama liked it.  My grandfather seemed unimpressed.  She was tired and went to bed.  She didn’t wake up. 

I started writing this blog thinking about my loss.  I finish it thinking about what I gained – my grandmother Corona.  Her name means crown.  Her DNA is inside of me and I adorn her leadership qualities upon my head.  Tears fill my eyes as I honor her by signing my name using her nickname for me.

Linda Cureton (Toot), CIO NASA

21 thoughts on “Reflections of a CIO’s Grandmother”


  2. His grandmother is now with God. Certainly got rid of guilt and happy playing with angels in the clouds of heaven. A multicolored diamond crown was placed on her head and she is enthusiastic about endless news of a new world of eternal life. I sympathize with you at this point to say, she reached the fullness of life and is in a comfortable place where all of us one day we will meet. And the pains of life are few moments of memory. The best of life is this: the “certainty” that’s just a moment, and that good things are eternal. Our faith is that love is invincible.

  3. Your best blog yet. Your Grandmother must been a wonderful influence and great woman. This shows that the real keys to success stay the same, even as technology changes.

    You and your family have my deepest condolences for your loss.

  4. I can see the resemblance in many ways. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. Take care my friend. GB, Ef

  5. I am sorry for your loss, but thrilled that were able to have so many wonderful years with your grandmother. Thank you for sharing your memories and thoughts. Your words have touched me today.

  6. Linda I feel your lost. We have been blessed to have had Auntie for so long but we have so many beautiful and wonderfu memories to hold onto. Dee Dee

  7. Linda, this was a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. You made her come alive with your words of leadership, courage, resourceness, and creativity. I can vouch for her communication skills since I had the privilege and honor to sit and chat with her on several occasions. She could also communicate another way which you did not mention — her music. Your grandmother could touch your soul with her much. She did mine. Your eternally grateful friend, Dude.

  8. Linda,

    Your grandmother has a look which says leader. If times were different and she had been the officer rather than the officer’s wife, she may have been the first female NASA Administrator.

  9. I ran across your blog today. The title of it just dragged me in to read it. I’m glad I did. You have not lost her. She is in your writing, your career, and in your family. I feel it and others that have read this blog feel it too. Thank you for sharing such personal memories.

    Greg Duhon

    P.S. Please share with me your recipes for sweet potato crescent rolls and Baptist pound cake.

  10. “Toot”…LOL! What I love most about this post is the way you managed to pull the realities of life into leadership, technology and innovation. I so admire leaders who are willing to be brave and share who they are. I’m grateful for Corona – she IS fully alive inside you.

    Offered with respect, Misti Burmeister

  11. This was so sweet of you to write this about her, she mean so much to you, I know you will miss her, but God has plans for her now, and she is with my son Corey. who die Feb 4th, 1989,and I know he will be in my heart and so will Auntie,
    God bless you and your family.
    Deborah Clark and family.

  12. What a heartfelt post – thank you for sharing. It’s a reminder to me of the potential I have to not only influence the lives of my three daughters in a positive and powerful way but also the children they may have someday. I am so sorry for your loss.

  13. Let your tribute be a reminder that we are the fruit of those who strove for us. Let it be a reminder that we neede generations to come think of us the same way ! Thanks.

  14. Thanks for sharing, very inspiring. My prayers are with you and your family for your lost, but I too rejoice for your gain for we at NASA will gain as well. Now if the opportunity should ever present itself I will love to learn more about those sweet potato crescent rolls and BAPTIST pound cake :<). Blessings
    BH Whitaker

  15. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring message. I will be in prayer for your family’s lost, as well as, celebrate your blessing (for we at NASA will no doubt benefit). If the opportunity presents itself I will love to learn more about the sweet potato crescent rolls and BAPTIST pound cake :<). Blessing
    BH Whitaker

  16. I am so sorry to hear of your loss, but your grandmother will always live within you, guiding you, leading you, allowing you time to pause and reflect – and finding her humor, go off and do her proud. You were blessed to have such a great relationship with a woman who showed patience, courage, and inspiration – leaving a mark on many hearts that cannot fade or be removed. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Hello,
    First, great blog! I’ve learned a great deal from the articles. Second, I’m currently an IT Intern with the OI&T-also an aspiring CIO-at the VA Hospital in Fresno California. If I can work out the details, would you permit me to shadow you for a week?


    Roy Bacon
    IT Specialist (Intern)
    VA Medical Center
    Fresno, California 93703
    Cellular Phone: 559-333-3018

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