Light the Way

It’s hot outside, around 90°, so it makes sense that I’m thinking about winter. This has been one of the hottest summers on record for the Puget Sound region. We really shouldn’t complain considering it’s been averaging closer to 100° in Phoenix, but it’s still hot for us Northwesterners, and some of us are beginning to long for the rain that will soon begin to fall. However, my thoughts of winter have nothing to do with the heat that is making it uncomfortable to sit in my little home office – without A/C – and type this post.

I’m thinking about winter because of Roy. I was walking to my office at work when a colleague said Roy was looking for me. Roy has never before had the occasion to look for me, so I was intrigued. I went to his desk to find out, and when I arrived he asked me what year I carried the Olympic Flame.

It may seem an odd question, but it’s one I enjoy answering. It was a cool January day in 2002 when I carried the Olympic Flame four blocks through downtown Olympia, Washington, as it made it’s way around the United States to it’s final destination in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the XIX Winter Games. It’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, and I enjoy when someone asks about it. However, it had been years since anyone asked, so I was curious why Roy was inquiring. He told me Rob Ogle died.

RobOgle

Rob used to work in the same agency with Roy and me. I didn’t know him well, but Rob and I did have one thing in common: we both carried the Olympic Flame. When I got home from work the day I heard the news from Roy, I thumbed through a copy of my book to recall what I had written about Rob. Here’s the excerpt:

Sometime during the last couple of weeks leading up to the event, I had a conversation with a former Olympic torchbearer. Rob was a co-worker who had carried a torch during the relay that took the Flame to the 1996 summer games in Atlanta. After his moment in the sun, the owner of a local tavern that he frequented asked him about keeping the torch above the bar. He agreed since it ensured him a free pint or two of beer from time to time. The owner of the establishment proudly displayed the torch for all to see and on special occasions they would take it down and ignite it. The torch was handy for candle-lighting at birthday parties or, if everyone was sufficiently liquored up, for lighting cigars. After a time Rob thought better of it and reclaimed the torch for himself. This points out something else about the torches that is not widely known: the Olympic Torch comes with a gas tank. A built in propane tank is slightly more efficient, and a bit safer, than providing torchbearers with kerosene-soaked rags.

I smiled when I read that paragraph again. I hadn’t seen Rob since he left the agency in 2007. I’ve often joked that some mistake must have been made resulting in me being chosen as a torch bearer, but Rob’s Olympic Flame moment was no mistake. He was a great athlete, competing in a number of marathons as a wheelchair athlete in Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and Olympia. He was also a serious weight lifter. Aside from that, he was a sweet guy, and I’m glad I knew him. Cheers, fellow Torch Bearer. I miss your light, already.

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