How ironic that I see the topic "self reflection" posted when I came in this morning. Later on that same day, I received this note from Rena Koopman, wife and loving friend of MY dear friend Rad Smith. At first I thought I might post it in the same thread. But...pardon me if I give my first Uechi instructor his own.
Since June 15th when Rad's cancer was diagnosed, I have used email to keep
many of you informed of his struggles . He did struggle and even this
morning at 10:30 mustered the energy to "remind" his oncologist that
tomorrow (Tues) was his day for chemo. As strong as Rad was, the cancer was
stronger and he died quietly at 11:56AM today-Dec.7th.The funeral
arrangements are not yet set but will be tomorrow and I will let you know
what they are. Rena
Last week - given Rad's extremely hopeless state - his sister Emily asked me to make a contribution to his obituary. This is what I WROTE:
Rad Smith is a nidan (second degree black belt) in Uechi Ryu, a traditional Chinese-Okinawan martial art. He achieved his rank while studying under George Mattson (presently 9th degree) in the latter 1960s/early 1970s when true, traditional karate was still a rare phenomenon. Rad moved to Charlottesville in 1973 to study in the graduate English department at the University of Virginia. In January of 1974 he started a karate club there. He left the University of Virginia in 1975 to pursue his studies in graduate business at Harvard. The karate club seed that Rad planted in 1974 grew and prospered. Since it's inception, several thousand students have received instruction from the Uechi Ryu Karate Club at UVa. Already there are "spin off" schools from Atlanta Georgia to Regensburg Germany. One of the students from his original class of spring 1974 has achieved the rank of master (renshi rokudan). All of the students from this original seed Rad planted understand the significance of his contribution.
To many of you, these are just words on a screen. To me, the grim reaper has cheated many people of the pleasure of a rare man and a dear friend. The cancer he died from was a senseless, random occurence. It affirms my belief that there doesn't need to be a good reason for all events around us. Life is, and we all carry on. And I, a grown man, proudly shed tears in his memory.