GUELPH, Ontario—Rick Valeriote learned a lot of his values in working for his father, Joe, during the early years of his career at Silcofab, the rubber product firm founded by the elder Valeriote.
"He was a person who things had to be done the right way," Rick Valeriote said. "His overall philosophy was, 'Let's do the right thing.' He was an extremely principled man."
Joe Valeriote, though, was part of the generation that generally didn't heap a lot of praise on their children. Valeriote said never once during his working career did his father tell him he did a good job or he was proud of him. "It was basically, 'This is what you're expected to be doing,' " Rick said. "It was an assumption on his part I would in actual fact do the job that needed to be done.
"Having said that, I'm sure he was proud of the job I was doing, but he never verbalized it. And I'm sure I'm not unique in that regard."
Joe helped produce components for the Gemini spacecraft that flew back in the early 1960s, according to Rick. He worked in conjunction with de Havilland Aircraft Co. to develop rubber parts for the spaceships. When the Gemini capsule hit the water, an antenna would pop us so the ship in the water could get to the crew so they didn't drown. And the antenna needed to be waterproof.
"My father developed a telescopic silicone rubber boot that was collapsed fully when spacecraft was in orbit, but when it hit the ground that thing had to go out to full extension," Rick said. "He has a copy of Time Magazine at his house of the Gemini hitting down and his white rubber boot fully extended."