Remembering & Celebrating Joe Kasik

Joe Kasik, 1944-2012

Many in the Eugene area have an extra sadness right now, after the passing of a friend, musician and all-around good man, Joe Kasik. After a long fight with cancer, Joe passed away on Nov. 8, 2012. A celebration of life will be held at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at Eugene Friends Church, 3495 West 18th Ave., Eugene.

I knew Joe not nearly as well as I wanted, but I knew him as best I could at the time. I wanted to talk a little about the friend I knew and miss.

Remembering a good man

I’m not a musician myself, but I knew Joe first as a musician. He regularly attended the weekly Irish music sessions at my wife’s studio. Most nights he would unsling his bag of hand-crafted bamboo flutes, most of his own construction, and join in the fiddles, guitars and myriad instruments that could show up on any given Monday. Sometimes he would bring in a ukelele or too as well.

From there I got to know Joe the gentle teacher. In a world of bombast and blather, Joe’s soft-spoken kindness always bespoke optimism and encouragement. Many a night he would talk with me about the approachability of the ukelele. He would work with me on plinking out a few chords, or help me struggle through “Oh My Darling Clementine.” His encouragement led to my wife getting a uke a few months ago, and while I’m still no great shakes on it, we both find that our baby loves it. I think that alone would make Joe smile.

Life is full of people we never know to the extent we would like to know them. Sometimes I think that’s to remind us to appreciate those we do know well, and those who know us well. There’s a lot about Joe the man I never got to know. I know he was a man of faith and craft, who loved the Oregon wilds and loved to travel. I know he was renown for his flute-making, his music-making, and his friendship.

And for now at least, that will have to be enough. Joe is someone I wish I knew better. One look in Joe’s eyes, and you could easily see yourself discoursing for hours over all manner of topics.

In this life, there won’t be anymore chances for those conversations with Joe.

I don’t understand why he had to leave us. Perhaps that’s a question he has the answer to now. The sun might set for the moon and for night, but Joe had more light to shine in this life. I wish he were still here. But that’s not a wish that gets to come true.

What can come true, though, is a wish that Joe’s death matter as much as his life. And that comes by using both his life and death as a reminder of life’s uncertainty, and of the fortune we have to love and be loved. Joe’s death reminds me to cherish all I hold dear, and appreciate the depth, love, openness and trust of our relationships.

I didn’t know him as long or as well as I wanted. But I knew Joe enough to know what a good man he was, and to know that he left the world a better place. I miss him and the goodness in his heart. Whatever may come after this life, I hope all the light in him gets to make it brighter and better.

Good-bye, Joe. For now, at least. Maybe we’ll meet again. In the meantime, I’ll get on with trying to bring more of your kindness and gentle patience to my character. And I’ll keep trying to learn at least a little ukelele.

2 thoughts on “Remembering & Celebrating Joe Kasik”

  1. Joe is my Dads( Elmer Mayberrys’) cousin. Joes mom and dad, joe and margaret (my grandma adas sister) kasik were my great aunt and uncle. I did not know he had passed. The last time I talked to him was in 2009 and he and I were catching up on memories of the old days and our family. He loved that he and I remembered some of the same memories of an apartment building in Chicago on Mozart st where our families lived. And his parents had a lodge in Lac Du Flambeau WI that was really neat memories too. Also a family farm in Michigan that was owned by his grandparents , my great grandparents, then my grandparents, Ada and Roy Mayberry.
    Joe was 12 years so when I was a kid he and Nancy were already grown. They reminded me of Peter, Paul and Mary. Intellectual and really nice hippies. I just thought they were the nicest people.
    Have lost track of Nancys number but am sending her our love through you if you keep in contact with her.
    ~~~~Liz Mayberry Smith and Helen and Al Mayberry(will share this beautiful story withem tomorrow morning)

    P.S. They are in really good health and turning 83 this year and will be married 60 years this September. Tell Nancy that I (liz) have had some serious health issues, cancer 30 years ago and now congestive heart failure from the radiation treatments years back. But I appreciate each day I have and live life to the fullest every day.

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  2. Liz, this is Dan Barney. Remember my brother, Jim? He passed last November. He lived in Elmhurst, IL, near where we all grew up., near Lombard. The Barney side of the family lived in the double flat (Mozart?) until my Mom, Jeanne Barney, had me and then we moved to Spalding since we had the larger family (five). My Dad, Irvin Barney, past about 25 years ago and my Mom passed on 9/11/2013. They remained married for their entire life. Very wonderful parents. I do remember Lake Van Auken and Lac Du Flambeau,…very fond memories. I remember meeting you at Lake Van Auken. I married Judy Trenta on June 24th, 1967 and got divorced 12/2011. I then married Susannh Hamel, my soul mate, on 12/31/2016. We are newly weds. Live in Crozet Virginia. Expedia says that Crozet is the most beautiful location in Virginia. I am writing a book and would like to send you guys a copy when completed. My email is djkad@earthlink.net. So sorry about your health. Would appreciate as an attachment to my email some photos. Dan

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