I posted this piece on the Growing Bolder website some years ago, but as I thought about my friend today, I wanted those who might not have read the original piece to know about this incredible, one-of-a-kind, amazing being.
A Tribute To Craig
A friend is a rare and wonderful thing. I have had the opportunity to call a very special, incredibly unique man, my friend. Among his many characteristics and amazing accomplishments were the following:
– Entered college with no high school diploma and had PHd’s working under him in laser research while an undergraduate
– Hit a hole-in-one in golf
– Is and adventurer and world traveler
– Is incredibly politically naive
– Has neighborhood kids coming to his house asking his wife if he can come out and play – he usually can and does much to the glee of the kids
– Has an IQ in the upper 5 percentile of Mensa members – He was one of 17 people in the world to pass “Omni” magazine’s open book, year-long IQ test guaranteeing one who passed a minimum IQ of 99.997 percentile, or 5 standard deviations from the norm
– Is a certified deep-sea scuba diver who has dived the finest diving spots in the world
– Is a world class billiard/pool player, and was New Jersey State billiards champion – as a high school dropout, he toured the country hustling pool and among pool hustlers, was known as “The Witch”
– Is a bridge Life Master and was often flown to Las Vegas as a bridge partner by people trying to attain their master status
– Is a licensed skydiver
– Reads quantum mechanics text books and works out complex mathematical equations for relaxation
– Can program in over 10 computer languages and has been a computer hobbyist since the early days of computers – he has written a Gin Rummy program that cheats
– When industry could get his brief attention, he developed a laser guided missile system and an innovative telecommunications system – he also developed the scoreboard system first seen on Monday night football
– Is an avid mountain climber, hiker, camper and spelunker
– Has finished a 26.2 mile marathon race, and has won numerous medals and trophies for his running
– Is a certified Curmudgeon
– Is a certified blue water sailboat skipper
– Can understand and completely explain Einstein’s theory of relativity (perhaps even to you)
– Was house husband and tutor to a wonderful daughter who went on to become a Fellow of the American Society of Actuaries prior to the age of 30
– Can easily solve any lateral thinking puzzle
– Has played and beaten some of the world’s best poker playing professionals at Texas Hold ‘em
– Is an artistic nature photographer with the skills of an accomplished professional
– Can identify by name and explain virtually any species of flora or fauna – tour guides in Glacier National Park came to him for information and requests for lectures from him
– Is an expert Frisbee player and can give you a good game in tennis
– Can correctly complete the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle and has one of the most incredible vocabularies imaginable
– Truly loves his Mother, Wife and daughter, and is a dedicated and loving husband, father and son
– Is an accomplished kayaker & bicyclist
– Is a true Bon Vivant and Raconteur
– Has driven a dog sled across Alaska
– Has won numerous chess tournaments
– Is a Mathematician, Physicist, Chemist, Botanist and a Biologist
– Is a treasured teacher – He taught gifted students in Westfield, NJ donating his time to do so
– Spent part of his youth in an iron lung suffering from polio, and another part travelling the country as a pool hustler
– Amazingly, Craig accomplished all of the above as a high school dropout who had one eye (boyhood BB gun accident), and half of his abdominal muscles missing (ravages of polio).
Craig Anthony Ryan met an untimely end climbing Mount Clements in his beloved Glacier National Park. He fell to his death from the mountain, and I can imagine that when that incredible processor of his realized what had happened, he let out one last defiant shout.
Craig’s death is a profound loss to me – I truly loved him, and a small piece of me is forever gone.
We used to speculate how much we could have accomplished and experienced together if we had met as boys. What I have suddenly realized is that dream was a reality. Although both of us managed to grow the bodies of men, neither of us ever escaped the bounds and joys of boyhood.
There will never again be another person like Craig. He died doing what he loved, and although I sensed that someday Craig would meet his demise this way, It will be very difficult to accept his loss. His exuberance, intelligence, playfulness and zest for life were infectious. The skies will be brighter for me lighted by the sparkle in his playful eyes (or eye).
You can climb for eternity now dear friend; free of this world we have both always had such a difficult time accepting. I love you and will always miss you.
The above was written in about 5 minutes some years ago when I received a telephone call at work from Craig’s wife informing me of his death due to a moutain climbing accident. Craig was my best friend. I posted the above in response to a Growing Bolder question on facebook asking readers to tell who was the coolest person they had ever met. Craig was definitely the most amazing, intelligent, coolest person I have ever met. He was the universal man.
Here are some photos of Craig doing the things he loved:
By the way, that was my butt he was kicking in a mile race circa 1980, and I was a national champion runner!