-- Frederick Buechner
Friend, mentor, teacher, guide
Sent: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 12:17:00 PM
From: "Randy Weeks"
Subject: Barry Wakeman's passing
I'm forwarding this note for those of you who knew Barry Wakeman, knew of his teaching and classes,, or knew of his work through other channels.
He will be missed.
Copy of email sent 9-23-04 @ 12:30 AM to Ohio members of the International Mens Group, the Mankind Project:
Subject: Barry Wakeman, True Bear
Men of Ohio,
I would like to put the name of a fellow warrior into our extended circle.
A dear friend, mentor, warrior and lover of life made his transition this week from this space to the next.
Barry Wakeman passed on in the early hours of Tuesday morning. His wife says the timing was almost as if he was waiting for the Solstice as his departure time.
He'd been living and working with the symptoms of what appeared, in recent months, to be ALS, though he'd been diagnosed as having a form of Parkinson's almost 2 years ago. Barry was living in that space the same way he'd lived all his eventful life: with an open heart and deep curiosity about all that life presents, no matter what the form or scenario.
As a teacher, he was famous for his playful sense of awe and wonder, for his connections with everything in Nature, and his ability to take people on a rich, diverse nature hike covering any space from a single, thriving square foot of their back yard, or miles into a rain forest. Raised as a kid with "learning disabilities", he connected on his own to the earth as a student of life, and grew into a man who was a living encyclopedia of the natural world, able to transmit his own knowing to his friends and students in ways seldom experienced in this world that knows so few master - apprentice relationships.
It has been my great blessing, one of the very greatest of my life, to have known him as teacher, mentor and friend.
I just finished a long, tender phone conversation with Barry's wife, Trish, and the outpouring of love and stories about Barry have kept her as busy as the preparations for the ceremony being planned for his many friends and family to gather in remembering his life and love and endless giving of himself.
Those of you who have known him, know what a rare and wonderful being he has been in this life. Everyone has a different story, many stories, of how a life was affected by a connection with Barry Wakeman, from the Peace Corps to documentaries, to his work as director of education at the Cincinnati Zoo, to his dome home and farm in Hillsboro and his weekly classes at UC and St. John's Unitarian Church in Clifton.
Dallas Fish told me tonight that Barry literally taught him how to hug, years ago.
Bob Wuest knows that the day he and I met in July 2003, our first conversation, about the perfection of nature, how there are no neurotic trees, and how we learn of our own perfection, authenticity and value from observing and connecting to life through the wonders of the natural world, was based a lot on what I'd loved most about Barry's sharing and teaching.
He'd had so many experiences... he tried almost any event or learning experience that came his way, just to engage life as much as possible.
I heard that Mark Twain once said something to the effect that once one becomes a riverboat captain, he can never see the river in the same way again, never see the mystery that it had before becoming a captain of a vessel...
One of the things I've told friends about Barry in the past came to mind tonight: That he's lived the proof that it is, in fact, possible to be an expert and still embody wonder and childlike awe...
Barry was one of the best known naturalists in his field, an expert of international reputation.
He went into the forest and learned all the science, all the technical expertise... and came out the other side with the same excited heart of a little boy, with tears of wonder in his eyes, and a sense of the great possibility that exists for all, in all... And he was able to communicate that wonder and connection to all of us who met and learned from him over the years...
He is still a strong energy among us. AND... I so miss his physical presence at this moment...
I'll post more about the planned memorial service as it is planned and shared. Trish expects it to be in the next 6-9 days, possibly at Spring Grove or other suitable outdoor venue.
I create a connected, reconciled community by unclenching my hands, heart and mind, and feeling the ferocious flow of love.
For more information about Barry Wakeman, please visit www.barrywakeman.com