Jason Oldak, Stan’s son, posted on the Nycc.org discussion board his eulogy (click “cancel” when the print dialogue box opens) for his dad delivered at his funeral in New York yesterday. Stan was killed by a hit and run driver during a Texas randonneur bike ride early Sunday morning. Many, many of Stan’s cycling friends joined his friends and family for the funeral. Here’s what Jason said about his dad:
My speech to my father
…It was a sunny afternoon as we were nearing the end. Our anticipation was rising and our faces were filled with thoughts of triumph and success and some possible pasta in an hour or so! I couldn’t believe we were almost at the end. I looked down Seventh Avenue and saw a crowd of people cheering all of us on. It took us several months of training to get to this moment, this instant, this feeling, and to share it right alongside my father was something I will always remember with me forever and ever. My father and I were about to finish the Boston to New York aids ride. We rushed into the crowd and saw my sister and my mom cheering us on, and we raised our bikes above our heads with utter achievement and satisfaction and I looked at him at that moment, and thought to myself how lucky I was to have had a man like this to guide me through life. To show me the stars and teach me the paths of time. To learn the rules and then to break them. He showed me that afternoon what accomplishment was all about.
My father will be missed by so many! He was a man of great wonder and many hats. He was a science enthusiast, a lover of astronomy, an outdoorsman, a craftsman, a doctor, an athlete, an artist, but above all, the kindest soul one could meet.
He was there ALWAYS! He was at every one of my swim meets and every last one of Emily’s piano recitals and dance performances. He would skip work early to come to a little league game, or dodge traffic to make it to my gallery opening. Even after my parents divorce, he made it a point to be in our lives and push us to achieve the goals we set…for one another. His support for both Emily and me in our artistic endeavors is…astounding, and we will never forget his love and fondness for our crafts and how it transcended into his own crafts.
…My mom told me this story last night, and I’d like to share it with you. In 1973 my dad ordered a make it yourself 25” remote control color TV through a local correspondence course. My mom would come home every night from work, and he would be sodering away on this chip board and this cable linked to this thing a majig. 6 months later sitting in the living room, with a pine box surrounding the screen was a 25” working Television. He turns to my mom and says: “Watch this.” And with the flip of a button on the remote, and the funniest grin on his face, the TV came on. This was Stan.
He always had a goal. If he put his mind to something it would be achieved. He was remarkably gifted with his hands and his comprehension of the ways things work physically, and mentally, right brained and left. His passions and hobbies were endless. Life was always evolving for him and he brought that out in my sister and myself.
I am still astounded at the passion those pedals gave to him. I watched through the years the progression of love he had for the bike. After competing in some smaller rides with him around NYC and finally riding the Boston-NY ride I realized the tranquility of what the bike can do for one’s soul. It gave him every long lasting breath of fresh kissed life when he would ride for miles on end while the sun caressed the back of his neck and wind swooped by him like an eagle…When your riding you’re cruising through the world, wherever you might be at that one moment on this earth, but you’re cruising through nature, and you’re in your own Zen. It was never a race for my dad, it was more an experience, a moment in time where he was alone but together, complete and satisfied. I know my dad will always be in his very own Tao of Stan when riding!
It breaks my heart to hear of how things transpired. He was so close to kissing the Parisian air, riding alongside the hills Lance once climbed, and knowing that he belonged there at an early age of 60. He deserved it and had more passion than most. Stan will be felt on those roads this summer. I know this for sure! He worked too hard to let something like this stand in his way!
I miss him more than words can describe! I miss his talks of movies, his chicken parmesan, his walks through the park, baseball card conventions, Met games, his conversations over wine, his love for life, ski slopes, Vermont, building a tent, jazz fest, nestling next to a camp fire, showing me the ways of life, talking numbers and the stars, talking relationships and women, being there for me, and being my best friend, my true best friend! I really cannot believe he is gone! But I want more, I want him to see my future wife, and my first child, and my first big film, and my first house. He is not allowed to go yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But, I now have to think back two years ago to when I was walking along the side of local beach by myself on the coast of Bali, Indonesia. I came upon a large group of Balinese carrying down from the valley a large paper mache bull on an alter with the remains of a loved one inside…It was a…traditional Balinese cremation ceremony filled with laughter, music, food and the eventual burning of the bull, where the loved one would be reincarnated in another life. As a Jew…we don’t necessarily believe in reincarnation, but what I was amazed by most in this ceremony was the lack of sorrow and pain…The rejoice and the every flowing cycle of life. It was an amazing and uplifting experience for a boy sitting on the outside of this circle, just watching. I said to myself, why do we view death so negatively, when these people rejoice, for they never really leave one’s side.
And then two years later, as I sat and wrote this speech I thought to myself the same thing. My father is gone physically yes, but he will always live on in my heart…He will watch every step I take and guide me through the easy and the rough terrain ahead. His energy will live on through all of us and he will always be that guy in the room with that amazing grin that wonderful stance and that magnificent worldly attitude for life!
Today, I received a kind e-mail from Daniel Sanchez who was on Stan’s last ride though not riding with him at the time of the accident. Daniel lives about 40 miles from Columbus. He originally wrote offering to help in my efforts to publicize Stan’s life and death. In reply to my expression of frustration at a lack of interest on the part of the local media in the story, Daniel wrote:
The RIDE OF SILENCE can help here and maybe get the word out some. Columbus is about 25,000 population. Based on where the accident happened, way over on the east of town, it almost had to be a local. He was going east towards the same town of Alleyton, population maybe 150 people, and the nearest bigger town is Sealy about 20 miles, pop. 15,000.
The lady, Reba, who was riding with Stan is a good friend of mine. I rode with her 5 weeks ago when we did a 600k. We were going to do this ride together but got separated at the start and never hooked up. Stan was my age. All of the randonneurs all realize it could have been any of us. We all wish it could just have been NO ONE.
The normal assumption is that it was alcohol related, but it was in a left curve of the road. So cell phone usage or other distractions could be the cause. Stan was wearing the correct reflective gear as required by randonneuring so VISIBILITY was not the cause or an issue. Actually, with the lights and reflective gear, etc. randonneur cyclists are MORE visible at night. I know that is hard to believe. But if you were to see us at night you would be surprised how visible we are.
There is already a lot of energy in the cycling community over Stan’s death.
A reporter for the Juneau Empire just e mailed me about a story he’s writing about Stan because of his dental work with Inuit children up there. Hard to believe that this is the first paper to write a proper story about Stan. But good for Juneau! Nothing yet from the NY Times (though I’ve called the Metropolitan desk) or the Houston Chronicle (called and e mailed their assignment editor). The Columbus newspaper would find Stan more newsworthy (beyond a brief mention of the mere details of his accident) if he lived locally (or so the publisher told me–don’t get me started). Please give this man a name beyond those who knew and loved him. He deserves it.
Daniel Sanchez says
Richard, Today marks two years since the ride that took Stan Odlak’s live. I drove to Austin today and went through Columbus by Stan’s accident site. I go through there often as my daughter lives in Austin and Columbus is on the way. I never go through there without thinking of him. I don’t have Jason’s contact information but let him know we (randonneurs) think of him often. His bios are still an inspiration.
Muriel (Baras) Molofsky says
I was a friend of Stan back in high school days, and a good friend of his sister, Rita. I have not been in touch with either over the years, but am so saddened to read (so many years later) of Stan’s untimely death. I would love to reconnect with Rita, if possible. Any contact information would be appreciated.
Daniel sanchez says
Well it has now been almost 9 years since we lost Stan. I still often think of them. He death makes me more careful when I ride my bike.