Who Were Your Mentors

I'm curious about who your audio mentors were, and how they influenced your audio journey and the system you pursued?  Father, uncle, friend, sales dude, local manufacturer, other?
I was introduced to audio by my dorm mates at Lehigh University which led to a Dynaco/ Acoustic Research graduation present from my parents. I moved to Philadelphia for graduate school where I met Bud Fried(IMF & Fried speakers) at his offices after reading an invitation in his news letters. We got friendly and I got invited by Bud to a dinner where I met Gordon Holt((Stereophile) and we became friends. Through Gordon I met Murray Zeligman and we became life long friends. Mainly for himself(but check SEAS driver kits) Murray designed speakers and electronics, some quite exotic. Finally I met George Bischoff(Melos Electronics, Pipe Dreams speakers, Scaena speakers, etc.) at his retail store and became lifelong pals. The re have been others, of course, but these four were my biggest mentors.
Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg
Who taught me how to make the perfect interconnect cable and
now I’ve been making them 25 years at https://stagersound.com/silver/
Lots to learn here::
A nut and a genius, RIP:

My menthors are Tom and Jef Nuyts : the creators of the Ilumnia Magister and - Vocalis.. This speaker are the first in the world with a conus that float on a magnetic field . ( Ilumnia. be ). Than I build my set around this speakers : cd-player Audio Note Cd two/2 , Moon Mind 2 ( streaming-driver). ; Metronome Technologie C6 (dac) ; Daniël Hertz M6L ( préamp) and the VAC phi 300.1 : what  a wonderful sound !!!
Paul Klipsch, I met him at our local Audio store in CT
explaining audio and hooking up a Khorn to a 9 v pocket radio 
📻 and and could not believe the output from a $7 pocket radio
in around  1978 from memory. I then bought my first Audiophile speakers the Klipsch Heresy unfinished for $795 I stained then and spent 2 weeks applying several coats of  French wax they were beautiful , with a Lafayette receiver and a Kenwood direct drive  turntable.,and A Luxman cassette  deck And AQ cables .
this was a years savings working my first full time job. It was the best sound system in my neighborhood ,that started my
Audiophile chronic addiction !!
Not striving to be an audiophile but always a lover of audio from my childhood exposure to music. My earliest dabble, if you will, was in the service which facilitated equipment purchases somewhat cheaply. Like others stationed in remote locations around the world, there was little more to do than get high, drink, and listen to music. That band of brothers association drove many of us to want to hear more from our music and now drives my desire to listen at a higher level of quality and accuracy. Fifty years later I’m still working that theme, on and off, and have expectations that more changes are yet to come.
Of late though, my compass is being guided by a friendship with Sunny Umrao. A chance acquaintance acquired through an online automotive enthusiasts forum. Because of the current pandemic I’ve not had the occasion to actually experience his sage advice first hand in a listening room, but we’ve engaged in countless hours of conversations of audio design and engineering philosophy that I was for the most part unaware of. He has also shown me that it is possible to improve my system’s sound quality without draining the pocketbook through purchase experimentation.

I’m probably not an "audiophile" yet by anyone’s standards here and this journey is surely incomplete. I continue to be amazed at what I can now hear from my own audio collection and sometimes find myself wiping a tear from the emotion of it.

Perhaps that is what really drives and excites me most.