I grew up in the small farm town of Menan, Idaho. As a kid, I worked on farms, milked cows, irrigated fields, and harvested potatoes. I developed a strong interest in “computers” after my dad bought the family a TI 99/4A computer for Christmas one year. I was introduced to programming on this device, which later led to the development of some small games. I graduated from Rigby High School in 1989.
Amy (Izatt) grew up in Ririe, Idaho, also a small farm town not too far from Rigby. Her graduating class was 26 people. She lived the typical life of a teenage girl. She had some close girlfriends, was on the cheerleader squad, was a huge fan of New Kids on the Block. She was really close with her Grandma (Whom died of Breast Cancer shortly before we met) and her Aunt Nona Dutson, that lived with her Grandma in a small house in Ririe. She always told me that it was her Grandma and Nona that raised her, and she spent a lot of time at their house after school. Amy graduated high school in 1992 and went on to attend Idaho State University.
Despite the close proximity between Rigby and Ririe (About 7 miles), we never met during our entire youth. We had a few close calls that are pretty crazy. For example, one of her cousins (Denise Yates) married one of my cousins (Carl Huffaker) while we were teenagers. I went to the wedding reception in Rigby with my family, but at the last minute, she got stuck at home babysitting all the kids. Despite the fact that our families were connected by this marriage, we never ended up at any common family functions.
A couple years after graduating high school and flunking college, I didn’t really know what I was doing with my life, nor did I have any direction. So I moved back to Idaho and started a job at Albertsons where I worked in the Produce department. I was still very interested in computers and dabbled in programming on the side. I partnered with a good friend Eric Beck (who also passed away in 2017 from Cancer), formed a corporation, and developed an application to track chemical application on farms. The business never made any money, but it was a great learning experience.
Amy and I “officially” met while I was working on the Night Crew at Albertsons. I was living in Idaho Falls with a roommate at the time, and she was home from her first year of college. Amy came over to my apartment to see my roommate Steve, who was a waiter at Perkins at the time. Her friend had left Amy’s number on the napkin for him as a joke. I was off that night, and was walking up the stairs with a laundry basket full of clothes when I saw Amy sitting on the couch with Steve. It was love at first sight. I kept finding excuses to pass through the living room where they were sitting so I could check her out. Every time I did, Amy would stop mid-sentence with what she was saying to Steve and would look up and say something to me.
Over the next week I couldn’t get Amy off my mind, and was plotting a way to steal her away from Steve. He didn’t seem like her type anyway, so I didn’t feel that bad about it. As it turned out, she called one day when Steve was gone to work, hoping that I would answer instead. It worked in our favor and I asked her out. We had a whirlwind romance and got married in March 1994. We were two young kids in love with absolutely no idea what to do with our lives.
Despite being broke and struggling financially from the start, Amy was the most supportive person I had ever met. She always believed in me. She pushed me to be a better person and to pursue my goals and dreams even though I didn’t believe in myself. This is the part of the story where Amy really influenced my career and had a profound impact on my life. In fact, it was probably the single most important thing that she did to help turn our lives around and get us headed in the right direction.
We were living in Boise, she was pregnant with Austin (our first), and I had started working at a small computer store in Nampa after getting fired from Albertsons. I hoped this would help launch my computer career. It was great experience but I knew I wanted something much bigger than that. I felt stuck and didn’t know what to do.
This was all before the Internet became mainstream, so finding information was extremely difficult. While I was working, Amy did a lot of research and found out about a new Computer Networking program at a technical college in Idaho Falls. She got me interested in it and persuaded me to enroll. We moved back to Idaho Falls and I started school.
Amy was the most supportive person I had ever met. She always believed in me. She pushed me to be a better person and to pursue my goals and dreams even though I didn’t believe in myself.