February 14, 2004

Tribute To A Friend

it is with extreme sorrow and grief that i share the news that Mike Duffy, a very dear friend and a core member of the Bojon community, passed away last weekend after being caught in a massive avalanche while snowcat skiing in the Canadian Rockies.

Mike was part of a 14-person snowcat group that was back-country skiing/snowboarding outside of Nelson, British Columbia, in an area around Valhalla Provincial Park when the avalanche struck. the entire group was swept up by the slide, but miraculously everyone except for Mike survived.

Mike was caught beneath the tons of snow and debris that overtook the skiers, and despite the group's relentless efforts they were not able to find him. search and rescue teams valiantly spent the next few days combing the area while the rest of us prayed for a miracle, but our hopes were finally dashed when Mike's body was found six days after the incident.

here are a few newspaper articles about the incident:
- San Francisco Chronicle (dated 2/2/04)
- San Francisco Chronicle (dated 2/5/04)
- San Francisco Chronicle (dated 2/6/04)

and so, where do we go from here?

the reality of Duffy's passing has not nearly begun to sink in. the thing is, Duffy was just so full of life that it is impossible to fathom that he is no longer with us.

how can we possibly begin to make sense of this tragedy? i don't really have an answer for this one just yet, and i'm not sure i ever will.

one thing that is clear, however, is that there has been a tremendous outpouring of concern, sympathy and support since the news of this tragic event has spread. the deep-rooted emotion people have shown is a telling testament to how special Mike was.

Duff touched a lot of people, and he did so with such an uplifting disposition and refreshing demeanor that he often left an indelible mark. i can't tell you how many stories i've heard this past week about people who had only met Duffy once or twice and yet felt a strong kinship to him.

one of Duffy's favorite phrases was "all-world positive," and he used this characterization to describe people or circumstances that generated so much positive energy that it chased all negative vibes away. well, Duffy himself embodied the "all-world positive" concept, and it showed in everything he did.

i first met Duffy in grad school about 8 years ago, and i've had the priviledge of getting to know him really well over the last couple of years. he is truly one of the highest caliber individuals i have ever met, and i will always cherish the good times we shared. Mike radiated with life, and he brought the most out of those around him.

we packed a lot in over the last year, but that's how Duffy lived his life. he was all about "getting in the mix." and get in the mix we did about as often as we could swing it.

i had the pleasure of introducing Duffy to burning man this fall, and that trip was nothing short of epic. and nearly as fun as the trip itself was our preparation leading up to it. i remember the day we bought his Huffy bicycle like it was yesterday; we were both about as giddy as little kids at christmas. and his jumpsuit. boy did he love his jumpsuit.

Duffy knew how to have a good time, but he also had a serious side as well as a giving and caring side. in fact, he struck about as good a balance as one could hope for: strong intellect, high integrity, deep compassion... what more can i say. Duff was all that and more.

i went through some of the pictures i have from the last few years and made a photo gallery of some of the Duffy highlights. clearly, good times were a plenty.

my heart goes out to Mike's family. as difficult as this must be for them, i do hope that they can take some comfort in knowing about the tremendously positive impact Mike had on those around him. his spirit will surely live on in all of us.

is Mike in a better place now? i hope so, but what i really wish is that he were still right here with us.

Mike, you will be missed dearly, my friend. rest in peace.


MEMORIAL SERVICES: Two memorial services will be held for Mike, one on the east coast and one on the west coast.

On Wednesday, February 11th, a memorial service will be held for Mike in his hometown of Wellesley, Massachusetts. The service will be held at 10 am at St Paul Parish, on Washington Street (Rt 16) in Wellesley. A reception will follow which all are invited to attend.

Then on Friday, February 27th, there will be a memorial mass in San Francisco at St. Vincet de Paul Parish. More information regarding the exact timing of this ceremony and the location of the reception will follow.

Posted by bojon at February 14, 2004 12:57 PM