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
Is a certified deep-sea scuba diver who has also dived the finest diving spots in the world
Is a world class billiard/pool player, and was New Jersey State billiards champion
Is a bridge Life Master and was often flown to Las Vegas to partner 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
Developed a laser guided missile system and an innovative telecommunications system
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 players 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
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
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.
One can see a picture of Craig on my facebook page at: