Continued from page 305, Chapter Thirty-One of Pem Farnsworth’s book, Distant Vision. Phil’s superiors at ITT were beginning to object to the considerable costs involved and began to express doubts that Farnsworth would ever bring his “fusor” to the point of a controllable sustaining conclusion? Phil was aware of the growing unrest in the executive suite, but his faith in the correctness of his concept remained unshaken, he decided the geometry of the “fusor” was at fault. He suspected that even an infinitesimal variance could make the difference and so he turned his attention to building a new model, the Mark Three.
Fritz Furth told Phil that ITT’s Nutly, New Jersey, labs had just purchased a lathe that was claimed to be the absolute pinnacle of precision. To get it for a week, it had to be sent airfreight…with its operator. On this modern marvel, a miniature model of the internal components of the “fusor” was made. This small model was a work of art. After Phil had made his tests with it, he brought it home to me, saying, “Here is a thirty-thousand dollar piece of jewelry for you, Pem.” (At my request and in honor of Phil’s contributions to the exploration of space, this miniature model was later taken on one of the shorter space missions.)
In the fall of 1965, ITT planned a convention for all the executives of its worldwide subsidiaries and we stayed at the Hotel Waldorf in New York City. Despite all attempts to build him up, Phil’s health continued to be a problem. Fritz, George and Bob Hirsch were now carrying most of the load. They had worked hard with the company comptroller and accountants to complete a realistic budget for 1966, which they were to present along with a report of results of their previous experiments and a business plan to and including 1969. Phil and I took a plane to New York, and as we approached LaGuardia Airport, he was feeling light-headed. I had noticed paleness around his mouth, which had concerned me, but I had not mentioned it.
Later while dressing for the formal banquet, he suffered some kind of a seizure and fell to the floor unconscious. Frantic, I called for the house physician, but by the time he arrived, Phil was regaining consciousness. The doctor said it looked like some kind of seizure and gave him an injection. After I told the doctor what happened on the plane, he reassured us that it was probably brought on by stress. No sooner had the house doctor left than Phil suffered another seizure, and I again summoned him, but Phil had regained consciousness before he arrived. This time the doctor left medication, which he said would prevent any further trouble. After the doctor was gone Phil complained of numbness all along the left side of his body. Fortunately, this soon left him.
Phil still felt obligated to attend the banquet, but I would not allow it. The next morning we took a plane back to Fort Wayne, Phil seemed to be recovered, except for a tired weak feeling. However, the next Sunday at the family dinner table Phil suffered another seizure and we were very concerned about him. ITT required (at company expense), its top executives to have a complete physical once a year. This was arranged in the country-club atmosphere of the Greenbrier Clinic in West Virginia. It had everything from golf and swimming to riding. To be continued…