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Remembering a True Friend, Terry Yuncker

Kite flyers who have gone to Long Beach for the Washington State International Kite Festival over the years, have no doubt met Terry Yuncker of the Ocean Kites store. A big, strong, very impressive man with a heart bigger than he was himself, he was well known by literally hundreds and hundreds of kite flyers across the USA, and Canada, also internationally. He did a tremendous amount of work to help make the WSIKF one of the world's best kite festivals.

I was just entering the competition area at the Grand Nationals in Muncie, Indiana, when I was given the very sad news that Terry had died from a heart attack while rushing to get a connecting flight to Indiana. It felt as if I had been hit on the chest with a 20-pound sledgehammer, I still cannot believe it.

I first met Terry in the late 80's. Right away we hit it off and became great friends. He always encouraged me to stay with my multiple-kite flying. After a couple of years he became my manager and until his untimely death he was my consultant. No mater how big or small my kite related problems were he would jump in with both feet and help sort things out. He had great confidence in me and predicted that one day I would be sponsored around the world. (By the way, he was my first sponsor.)

His mind was always working overtime and he came up with some great ideas. With the help of others, he sponsored me to the 1995 World Cup in Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia. He wanted me to do something very special to open the World Cup. His idea was for me to fly seven Allegro kites that had been specially made by Dan Buxton of Shanti products, who was also head judge of the World Cup. Two of the kites had Canadian emblems, two kites featured American emblems and three had Australian emblems sewn into their sails. The idea was to show the friendship and harmony of the three countries. I flew them using hands and waist to the music of Waltzing Matilda. It was a huge success and a super way to open the World Cup.

Another of his ideas was for me to fly three kites simultaneously from the back of a red convertible down the main street of Long Beach Washington to help promote the 1997 World Cup the following month. Again this was a great success. It would have been very interesting to have known what idea Terry had up his sleeve for me to do at the Kite Festival in Carmel, California in May 2000, and event that has been going on for 67 years, I'm told. We will never know, but knowing Terry, I am sure it would have been something very unique and special.

Dave Colbert, co-owner of Devotion To Motion Kite Shop in Long Beach and a great friend of Terry for many years, held the 1st Annual Terry Yuncker Memorial Kite fly on the 16th of Oct on the beach at Long Beach, WA. On the same day in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cal Yuen, Art Ross, Alec Marshall, Ted Sado and myself flew for Terry at Vanier Park. The winds were light and steady which gave us time to reflect on our memory of him, each of us with our own thoughts, and doing our own thing, but at the same time we were united with Terry in our minds and hearts. I swear I could hear Terry's words of encouragement as he so often gave after trying something new and achieving success. He would just about shake my hand off and say, "Man, you're the best, the very best." I will surely miss his kind words of encouragement, the strong faith he had in all of my achievements, his understanding of my frustrations in not always getting it perfect, but most of all, I am going to miss his deep friendship and love.

Thank you Terry,


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Copyright © 1999
Sam Eaton

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