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sangiro

Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend

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This is a tough one. tonto was one of my mentors and if I ever had a safety query he was the first person with whom I would consult. He was Mr Safety personified. Outside of skydiving he had a briliant sense of humour and often kept us in stitches with his stories.

Rest in peace my brother you had many, many admirers.

KevinO
CI Johannesburg Skydiving Club

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Damn. He was one of the ones I couldn't wait to meet. Guess I'll have to wait. :( Shared some great PMs and I always enjoyed his responses on the forums - they usually challenged you to look at a situation differently, whether you agreed with him or not.
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke

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Eric was a personal friend and mentor. We worked together at JSC where his efforts at making skydiving safer for everyone were tireless. His dry humor, willingness to share his vast pool of knowledge, and his larger than life persona will be missed terribly by everyone who knew him.
Eric, my friend, it was good knowing you.
Blue skies forever.
_______________________________________________
Fat Drunk and Stupid is no way to go through life

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Quote

You also recently showed me another side when you told us about the child you and Taya have been helping in South Africa. You have touched that childs life more then you have touched anyone out side of your familys probally.



I think it would be nice for people other than the Mods to know that story. I've copied it from the Team Room.

From Tonto's post:

Quote

Taya and I support a little deaf girl from Kliptown, Soweto.
She was 3 when Taya noticed she was not like the other kids. The teachers at the creche thought she was retarded. She organised a friend at WITS university to test her, and she's profoundly deaf.

Taya organised that she and her mother both recieve schooling at St Vincent's school for the deaf in Melrose, North of Johannesburg. They have both learned to sign, and Silindile can now express herself. She's a bright little thing, and she's now 6 years old.

I stop in through Kliptown on the way back from the DZ in Carletonville about once a month, drop off some potatos, some spinach, some new clothes before winter. I pay her taxi fees to school and back, and her school fees. She gets 2 meals a day at school.

Taya sold her car for $1000 when she left for Princeton last year and opened a trust with that modest amount, and since then I've added another $1000 to the cause, and it keeps her in school.



Tonto has 2 girls of his own, yet he still found the means to help another little girl. That's cool. :)
She is Da Man, and you better not mess with Da Man,
because she will lay some keepdown on you faster than, well, really fast. ~Billvon

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I can't believe this :( My heart stopped when I saw the title of this thread in disbelief. I also did not know Tonto personally, but I gained much knowledge and had great pleasure reading his posts, advice and kind words. Fly free my friend, you will be remembered for eternity. Be at peace :(:(

BSBD
"In a mad world, only the mad are sane"

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tonto, thank you for your advice... You will be missed.

Blue skies, my friend. I never met you, but I, like many, many others on here, I would assume, benefitted greatly from your wisdom.

May peace be with you.

-Peter
_______________
"Why'd you track away at 7,000 feet?"
"Even in freefall, I have commitment issues."

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You were my AFF Instructor and my mentor, but most of all you were my friend. I have no words right now and in a way i'm hoping that the next time my phone rings it will be someone telling me it's not true and this has all been some kind of elaborate joke.

Thank you for everything t, for teaching me to skydive, for having the guts it took to tell me to slow down when i needed it, but most of all for the love you showed, for our late night chats outside the bar, for the welcome smile, the praise after you watched me swoop, for encouraging me through nationals, and for the hug we shared yesterday morning when i walked on to the DZ. Had i known it would be our last i might have held on just that little bit longer.

You will be missed my friend, you leave behind a void in my life and i can only hope that i will live out the rest of my days in a way that will make you proud. Thank you for letting me inside your circle and letting me know that i had a a place in your heart, you will always have a place in mine.

Advertisio Rodriguez / Sky

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My sincerest condolences to Eric's partner, family, and friends.

He impressed me when he stood up when others would stand back and say nothing.

His contributions and presence here will be missed immensely.

BSBD
/Marg

Act as if everything you do matters, while laughing at yourself for thinking anything you do matters.
Tibetan Buddhist saying

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Absolutely gutted to hear of Tonto's passing. We met many years ago at Skydive Citrusdal and did a few jumps together over the years since then. What amazed me with Tonto was how enthusiastic he remained after so many years in the sport, always keen to try a new discipline and immerse himself in it completely.
He was a true mentor, always willing to guide and teach, and always ready to learn from others when exploring a new discipline.
I feel honoured to have known him, jumped with him, learned from him and competed against him.
We are all gonna miss you Tonto!
Hard work never killed anybody, but why risk it?

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my friend,

My deepest condolences to Taya, family, friends and all the flock. We have all lost dearly today and we will miss you.

"Up here, above the fog, in the lonely dark emptiness, there is no Life and Death. There is infinity and a moment in between, when we fly so full of life and so close to death that they become one." -Richard Bach

Jari

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Wow, I'm crying. This is very, very sad news. I never have met him in person, but we had friendly ongoing PMs over the years, discussing various life topics. He seemed to be such a genuine, caring person, who lived by authentic principles based on altruism. He was one of the good ones.

Sending my heartfelt condolences to Tonto's loved ones, especially Taya, whom he cherished and loved so much. Eternal blue skies, Tonto. :(

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I usually do not post in obituary forums. I find it morbid. I find it pointless. I also feel sometimes it turns into a competition as to who can claim the most pain from someone's death...
This is fucked. I may have traded 3 PM with Tonto since I signed on to this forum. But all 3 were somewhat more powerful than 99% of the thousands I have received and sent.
You were one of the true ONEs.
You ARE one of the true ones.

Stay Gold...

And you got to watch the Boks win it all in fashion...

"For once you have tasted Absinthe you will walk the earth with your eyes turned towards the gutter, for there you have been and there you will long to return."

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ditto frenchy. exactly how i feel. If i ever saw a PM from Tonto it was always friendly PM while at the same time an educational one. i had a question years ago and he was so enthusiastic about it that he also invited me to question his partner, and then check in to see how my query was coming along. Tonto was one of the great moderators that nobody had to be shy around, he taught many things through these forums and every post i ever saw of his was of value even if it was just joining in the banter.

i will always remember his friendly non judgejmental presence on these boards and if i feel the way i do just from a few pms over the internet with him then i can only imagine how people who know him must be feeling.
I get the feeling the sport has just lost one of the most important guys the sport has had as there are thousands of people from this site alone that have benefited from tontos post.
thank you Sangrio for giving Tonto the chance to introduce himself to us all and educate us all without even meeting the guy.... his life has benefited so many of us here on your website.

on another note.... Skymama, maybe when things are a bit more calm we could all try and find


.Karnage Krew Gear Store
.

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