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sangiro

Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend

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:( Blue Skies....I hope your beliefs proved true when you crossed over. They sounded pretty cool..Don't spend to long in that Garden though the world could use you back here ASAP:)

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Life is Short and we never know how long we are going to have. We must live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. Everything we do should have a greater purpose.

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Godspeed and Blue Skies Tonto......may you forever fly free.

Deepest condolences to all who loved you.


I'm not really a member here, but joined when I lost a loved one to the sport. Since then, I've been a steady lurker, and have learned much from the great folks here. Always looked forward to T's well thought out posts. I was shocked, and feel a void by what has happened, and I can't even begin to imagine the loss to all of you on this forum, and in his life.

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god. why is it the best who die before they should?

I never knew Tonto, but know the world is a sadder, poorer place without him. he left a very strong impression.. as a skydiver, as a man, as a human being.

may the values he lived by be taken up by those he inspired.

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Dear Taya,

I just had a friend on the phone telling me I had to read this for myself. I never met Tonto, but I do vaguely remember you from the DZ in Schaffen, Belgium. As I recall well, you jumped there this summer while I was doing my first jumps...

My sincere condolences, I wish you all the strength you need. Please know that you and Tonto will be in our minds and hearts, always.

Marianne

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Tonto helped me out cleaning up a thread about a friend who died on a very similar swoop incident as his own.

His PM to me might be good advice for those who knew him well:

Quote

Hey.

XXXXX was your friend. The only person being hard on you now, is you.

Right now, you need to find someone to look after you. XXXXXX is in good hands. You're worrying too much. Think of the good times. They're the only ones that count.

Blue Skies,

t

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Thanks to Tonto for good, intelligent posts, and for keeping dz.com a nice place for all skydivers.

This news makes me sad even if I didn't know him.

:(
Relax, you can die if you mess up, but it will probably not be by bullet.

I'm a BIG, TOUGH BIGWAY FORMATION SKYDIVER! What are you?

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Oh wow. Blue Skies Tonto, thanks for your PM's and your help when I needed it.

You're in a better, happier place now.

Losing one of your own in this sport is ALWAYS hard, regardless if you ever had the chance to meet them in person :([:/]
Puttin' some stank on it.

----Hellfish #707----

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we have lost one of the best

Tonto thanks for all the great advice and the awesome skydives.

My heart goes out to everybody that knew Tonto and especially to Taya and his family.

You personally friendship and knowledge will be missed.

Good bye T
_______________________________________
You are unique, just like everybody else ...

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t

(always the little t) ;)

You taught me, challenged me, inspired me, reprimanded me, thanked me, thought of me, smiled with me, skydived with me. And even though we only spend weekends out at the DZ skydiving and sharing the sport we both love so much, I consider you a close friend and mentor, not only in the sport but so to in life and spirit.

There have been many memories flowing through my head the last few days, and they have brought a smile to my face each time, not quite like the big energetic smile you always had, but close enough. I now would like to share a few of these with you, so you to can smile again.

Meeting you on a cold and cloudy day at JSC, when I returned to the sport after an injury to do my AFF, you took the time to get to know me and what makes me think, learn and laugh, this comfort with you followed me out the door the next weekend with you and Manny on level 1, and you were the one constant Inst on all my dives.

The pep talk about where and what I could do in the sport once I had gotten of student status.

The words of encouragement and pride you had for me and my 4-way team during our years of training.

Being a support and guide for the canopy courses I ran at JSC and the valued feedback and info you had for me, on teaching and seeking knowledge.

Believing in me and my dream when I choose to head across the pond and throw drogues for a season, giving me the heads up on the world I was about to become part of.

Standing at boarding point when I returned to JSC, me with my first tandem back in SA and you with a Level 1 AFF, you walked over to me and placed you hand on my shoulder, smiled and told me you were proud of my path within the sport. We laughed that there we both stood, me an ex student of your, about to take a person on their first skydive, and you there with the same.

The always familiar and friendly smile before I left the door.

Being humble enough to forgive and support a friends return to the sport in SA, (we both know who I'm speaking of)

The unconditional support and friendship you showed someone I loved when our time had come to an end, and the chat about life lessons and love lessons you had learned.

I'm sure half these will be exaggerated into epic moments as time passes and other will be lost to the public but never forgotten in my heart.

Funny thing is I'm not sad or angry at your passing, all I feel is humbled by your friendship, words and way of life. And I thank you for that.

May light, love and happiness follow you into your new adventures.

Blue Skies Forever
Karl

"It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

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I have many fond memories of Tonto, and all are quirky. New Year’s eve in ’95 or '96 at the DZ in Carletonville, we were all sitting around the fire, the buffalo milk long gone, with about half an hour to go before the year turned. Tonto came to me and asked me to park my car at the end of the runway, lights on, to help the plane to land at midnight. The plane took off into the night, and about five minutes into the New Year, he touched down just outside the beerline, having done an unscheduled night jump. After stowing his gear, he did the rounds and wished everybody a Happy New Year, that Cheshire cat grin on his face when he asked - ‘So how many jumps have you done this year?’ His love of life was infectious. I will miss him.

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Quote

After stowing his gear, he did the rounds and wished everybody a Happy New Year, that Cheshire cat grin on his face when he asked - ‘So how many jumps have you done this year?’ His love of life was infectious. I will miss him.



ROTFLMFAO ..... ;)

He did that again on a wingsuit dive, exit one year land the other. Classic Tonto

Such a silly boy :P

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I wrote earlier that I worked with Eric 20 odd years ago, but since this earlier post have been reminiscing on the past with many fond memories.

As an instructor and friend Eric cleared me for free-fall after my 6th SL jump at Citrusdal back in '87, and I remember him saying his only concern was that I seemed so layed back he was worried I might just forget to deploy. Hehehe - I was layed back because he was such a good instructor! I trusted him.

Then in '89 there was a boogie in Mmabatho. I was no longer current, so I did a tandem from a Herc at 18,000 ft asl and he did the photo dive. Those pics will now mean a little bit more to me ...

But in the shower this morning I just had to pack up laughing ...

At work Eric had been asked to assume the responsibilities of somebody on leave, in a desolate location, and understandably found this to be extremely boring. So he decided to while away the time by doing something seemingly constructive. I was asked to accompany the boss to this desolate location, and upon arrival Eric was taken by surprise. The boss found reams and reams of paper that Eric had been writing. But it wasn't a story, it was simply the same line written over and over again ...

"All work and no play makes jack a dull boy"

Dunno, never quite got out of Eric what he intended doing with this, or can't remember, but methinks he was probably making wallpaper for his bedroom. Kewl concept. But hey, we were young at the time. And it was hilarious at the time. Still is for me today!

Since then I've moved on to greener pastures. Have worked in corporate environments and today run my own business. During this time have undergone full psychometric testing and have been pleasantly surprised by my results. But I've always considered Eric to be ... wooaaah ... way above me.

There are many kind, compassionate and caring people in this world. But I'll hazard a guess that the underlying reason that drew so many people toward Tonto was his intelligence.

And that, for me, is why his death is such a bitter pill to swallow.

Luv ya Tonto

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t

From the day I met you the first time as one of my instructors at Stellenbosch, I always had admiration for your commitment to the sport. You were a true instructor that always had the attitude that we all ,once in our lives, had only one jump or five jumps and that we all need encouragement end guidance through those first years. You always took the extra step. You always made us respect a student or newcomer to the sport and I truly tried to live up to that. If there was a hint of Skygod attitude in us ,you quickly made us rethink our attitude. You did though, manage to give me hell in your own kind of way .From setting off the smoke to early on all those demo jumps around Cape Town to packing the rigs in sun or water or driving to fast with you guys in the back of the pickup.

You are one of the main reasons I busted my ass every week to get to the DZ and probably also the reason why I decided to make a living from this sport. (Don’t know if I should thank you for that)

Years later we were flat mates in Jo’burg and although we lived together, very little was talked about skydiving. Mostly politics, guns, martial arts and our futures. I think we both went through uncertain times in our lives then. You just had a better outlook on it than me .You taught me a lot in those years. You knew were my heart was and never pushed. I still remember the day you told me you guys have to move out to find another place, because there was a little one on the way and also your concern of making a good dad. All I could think of was that no more helping to push start that damm Mazda 323 in the mornings. We all new you would be great at being a dad.

Like I said, you always made an effort. You showed my overseas friends the country (South Africa, driving thousands of kilometers) when I was to busy at work and they all returned for more.

As a DZ owner and Instructor in the States in later years ,probably the biggest testament to you as an instructor is seeing all those new jumpers and instructors that came through the ranks under you guidance and their high standards for safety and professionalism. Many of them worked with for me or with me and it were obvious they had you as a mentor.

When I came back to Carltonville for visits and bringing my friends for tandems, I made sure most of them had the privilege of jumping with you. Besides the fact that I could not do a standup tandem landing at that altitude to save my life, and boy, did you let me have it, there was a good chance you will make future skydivers out of them.

We did both have one thing in common those years. Our loyalty to our ragged out Jonathan Canopies.

Over the last years we only saw each other when I came by the DZ on visits to SA.I always knew you would be there and today I am truly sorry we lost touch. I sort off always thought you would be there. That’s why this is one is a tough one to swallow and accept. I can only hear you now . “Learn something from this …..”

A

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This was just released on our local listserve, for those in SA who can make it out to JSC, here are the details.

Dear family and friends,

Please join us in celebrating Eric's life and grieving his death at a
memorial service to be held at 10am this Saturday, 3 November 2007.

The service will be held at the Johannesburg Skydiving Club, which has
closed for the day to honour Eric's family and provide space for his
friends and loved ones to gather together in remembrance.

All are welcome. Dress is respectful (not formal). Light refreshments,
coffee, tea, and juice will be available.

Please find directions to Johannesburg Skydiving Club at:

http://www.jsc.co.za/Contact.aspx?Show=Directions

We look forward to seeing you.

-Taya Weiss and John and Edith Stephenson

Advertisio Rodriguez / Sky

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we never met, we rarely comunicated in the forums and still, after hesitating for three days to write there's still tears coming up and i know that i will miss someone very special
The universal aptitude for ineptitude makes any human accomplishment an incredible miracle

dudeist skydiver # 666

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Always sad to read of someone passing on, but this one really shocked me. I did not know Tonto personally.. but always enjoyed reading his posts here. He is one of those special souls, with a genuine heart and care for others. My heart goes out to his partner, children, family and friends.

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tonto,
we parried on the net over many things and we each had firm opinions which we each held true. we each had our reasons for our piont's of contetion. maybe we did'nt always see eye to eye but we always had the skydivers best intterests at heart. the world will be a little less unsure how to proceed now that your voice has been silenced......It is trully a sad day that you are now gone. I grieve for your family and friends. rest in peace brother, we'll continue the debate on the other side. I'll see you then wnen my time comes.

To all: be fuckin cafull out there!!!!!!
Please!!!!!!!!!!!!

riggermick.
mick cottle.

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WONDERBOOM ARE SAD ………..TONTO IS THE LEGEND THAT TAUGHT MARTIN TO SKYDIVE ….HARD TO ACCEPT ….
OUR PRAYERS AND THOUGHTS ARE WITH ALL WHO ARE CLOSE HIM - IF YOU HAD MET TONTO, EVEN ONCE, YOU WERE CLOSE TO HIM …… SOME PEOPLE ARE THAT SPECIAL.

(Wonderboom – Cito, Martin, Danny & Wade)


Dear Tonto.... keep shining wherever you are. Much love and thoughts to your loved ones and friends.... may they find enough strength to get through the tough times,

Love Lucien
(Lucien Windrich - eVoid)


HE WAS MY HERO……

(Martin Schofield - Wonderboom)

I think true friendship is under-rated

Twitter: @Dreamskygirlsa

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