Professor Paddle: our good friend Mike Stano
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jalmquist
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  Quote jalmquist Replybullet Topic: our good friend Mike Stano
    Posted: 05 Jun 2008 at 6:09pm

Hey all,

 

As many of you are aware, on May 17, 2008, we all lost an amazing person and friend – Mike Stano – while he was paddling the Green.  Sometime soon, those with him at the time will draft a report of the incident in an effort to better inform the paddling community of the exact details.  But that can wait – this is about Mike.       

 

Mike lived an incredible life, achieving more than it seems possible for one person to accomplish in 45 years.  He dedicated his life to helping others; fighting forest fires, volunteering for two years with the Peace Corps, working in a brain trauma unit and eventually in his chosen profession as a self-employed physical therapist. 

 

Mike loved all aspects of the outdoors, most of all kayaking.  As anyone who had the opportunity to paddle with him would attest, his cheerful demeanor, positive attitude, and warm smile were inevitably contagious, even on the dreariest of days.  Although in the eyes of the paddling community he was certainly seen as an “expert”, his appreciation for whitewater went well beyond class V.  Mike was always game – and enthused – for a class II / III rainy weekend adventure to the Olympic Peninsula or an evening on the South Fork Snoqualmie.  He enjoyed the balance between play paddling, creeking, multi-day trips, and just plain ol’ river running.  Plus, he both understood the importance of and reaped the rewards achieved through teaching others how to paddle.  Not long after learning to paddle, he pursued his ACA instructor certification, which he brought with him to the Pacific Northwest.  For many years he was a tireless volunteer instructor for Pacific Water Sports as well as for the WKC whitewater class.  Recently, he began volunteering with Team River Runner, utilizing both his physical therapy and paddling instructional skills in teaching injured war veterans to kayak.  His accomplishments in kayaking built his confidence in life, but he still never understood what an incredible person he was.

 

Off the river, many of us stood in quiet awe of Mike.  There was very little that he didn't know how to do. He could fix, build, and renovate anything. It was rare that someone would ask him a question to which he didn’t have an answer – an answer likely based on prior life experience.  Life fascinated him, and he was always learning new things from the people he met.  In addition to being brilliant and skilled, Mike was an incredible human being. He was compassionate, sincere, and genuinely interested in the people he met. While often perceived as quiet and laid back

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water wacko
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  Quote water wacko Replybullet Posted: 05 Jun 2008 at 6:57pm
amen, John. We'll miss ya, Mike. Here's to ya, buddy.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman
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  Quote justasec Replybullet Posted: 05 Jun 2008 at 9:40pm

Thank you Jon for such a wonderful write up on our good friend Mike.

And..Thank You Mike for being there for me on the river during my early days of boating. You held onto my boat as we decended those huge scarey rapids on the Powerhouse, and you encouraged me to do my very first "portage and run it again!"  You saw my fears and you saw my tears.  With baby steps you helped me to build the confidence I needed to progress in this wonderful lifestyle/sport.  On the day you left us I ran the Wenatchee @ 16,000!  It was huge!  I've come a long way from those Powerhouse days!  Thank You Mike Stano... Thank You so very much!  You're terribly missed.   Sydney Capitano

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  Quote Iceman Replybullet Posted: 05 Jun 2008 at 9:47pm
Mike touched more lives than he knew, and we're all better for having known him.  He will live on in my memory for a long time to come.
 
So long Mike - Goodonya
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  Quote slickhorn Replybullet Posted: 06 Jun 2008 at 8:49am
I was fortunate enough to meet Mike through the WKC kayaking class.  I'll never forget the humour, grace, and joie d'vivre he dispalyed as he led tentative newbies down terrifying class I- water. 

My deepest condolences to all his family and friends.  Natalia and I will always have the fondest of memories of Mike. 
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  Quote PowWrangler Replybullet Posted: 06 Jun 2008 at 10:37am
I only met Mike once, but had a great first impression of him.  So sorry that this happened, my deepest condolences.
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 06 Jun 2008 at 12:14pm
I was lucky enough to paddle a few times with Mike, and I unfortunately never had the chance to cultivate a close relationship with him off the river. I sure do remember some great runs with him though. Days that were cold and full of rain, but we smiled all the way down following and learning from Mike.

 Now after this loss, I realize just how much I missed out on. It's selfish of me to put it that context when so many loved ones have experienced a loss I can not even fathom, but I am still left with the regret of not spending more time with Mike when I had the chance.

To Leah and the family, You are all in our thoughts and prayers, and although we can't even begin to try and share in your loss, we are here to support you in anyway we can. Mike had a huge influence in our community and his testimony can be seen, spread out through all the peoples lives that he touched with his encouragement, love and humility.
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cloudpeak
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  Quote cloudpeak Replybullet Posted: 06 Jun 2008 at 8:40pm
Heartfelt condolences to the family. He sounds like he was a great guy. RIP

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  Quote PaulGamache Replybullet Posted: 06 Jun 2008 at 10:13pm
I never met Mike.  However I'm proud in the wake of what happened James, Leif, and Co dedicated  the PP fundraiser in his name to generate funds for the memorial fund.  Thanks again for putting on an amazing event that helped make a difference.  Mike sounded like an amazing guy that lived an amazing life.  
 
Paul 
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  Quote dave Replybullet Posted: 06 Jun 2008 at 10:55pm
It was good to boat with Mike over the past many years and even though I did not know him closely and only by face (because I forget names on the river), his face was always familiar and friendly. I will miss him out there when I am solo and looking for that midweek or weekend person to tag along with.

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  Quote chuckj Replybullet Posted: 07 Jun 2008 at 1:34am

Tragic! I didn't realise that he was the boater. Will miss seeing him at the takeouts and at the Pummel. My condolences to his family and to Jon, I know they were good friends.

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  Quote dave Replybullet Posted: 08 Jun 2008 at 10:52am
http://www.professorpaddle.com/media/photoview.asp?File_Id=1671

Mike is on the left.


Edited by dave - 08 Jun 2008 at 10:52am
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  Quote water wacko Replybullet Posted: 08 Jun 2008 at 10:41pm
The get together was great. Many stories, many tears, smiles, and love. Thanks to all who came and shared. Mike will be missed, but I get the feeling he was looking down because as soon as Jon started telling the first story a little ray of sunshine poked through the clouds on us. And only got brighter and warmer as the afternoon went on. Thanks Mike for the great times. We love ya!
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman
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  Quote surfrob Replybullet Posted: 08 Jun 2008 at 11:52pm
After meeting mike through the wkc ww class, he gave me a free pt consultation on my tendinitis in my shoulders which later solved the problem. he also gave my girlfriend a free rolling class that lasted several nights at the pool. we offered money or a trade, he wouldn't have it. that's a rarity in our society today, he'll be missed for sure.

i think of him weekly after every hard sea paddle or surf where i'm surprised my shoulders feel fine.

here's an image of him at the mosh pit takeout, i think two years ago during the Pummel. i'll post it on my site tonight, www.robcasey.net (click on "Lifestyle").

rcasey
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  Quote jalmquist Replybullet Posted: 09 Jun 2008 at 7:51am
Thanks everyone for the fantastic turn-out.  Sometime mid afternoon I walked out onto the street and was amazed at the number of vehicles with boats on vehicles - as far as the eye could see. 
 
And Sydney - don't thank me for the "wonderful write-up".  Mike's wife, Leah, thoughtfully drafted the original version for the online obituary in the link I included in the first post.  I just edited it "for boater consumption", tossed in a few personal notes on why Mike was so special for me and our close-knit boating community, and posted it to bring attention to yesterday's gathering. 
 
Again, thanks to everyone who made an appearance.  I'm sure all the non-boating family and friends were overwhelmingly impressed.  As was Mike...       
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Ndejapu
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  Quote Ndejapu Replybullet Posted: 12 Jun 2008 at 5:38pm
I just received an email from a Peace Corps buddy letting me know that Mike Stano had died.  I was shocked, stunned.  I have not seen Mike since Paraguay 18 years ago and have to admit that I have thought about him only when flipping through photos from so long ago (Mike, I won't bring up Aregua in '89).  But, when I opened the email, tears filled my eyes.  Mike was a great guy, nothing less.  We come from different backgrounds - I'm a bubba from south Alabama, Mike's from a continent away.  But he was my friend.  I think I will drag one of the old kayaks from my front yard, dump it in the Mobile Bay and go splash around for a while. 
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  Quote ljpettit Replybullet Posted: 30 Jun 2008 at 2:53pm
I am so sorry to hear about about Mike's death on the river and sorry I missed the memorial. Since I haven't been on the rivers much in the past few years, though rare, it was always pleasant when I did get to chat with Mike. I still cannot believe that he is gone. He was a very sweet guy and I send my sympathies to his wife, family and friends.

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