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My friend Hoby passed away recently.

Hoby passed away in a mountain biking accident, one of those things where everything went wrong at the same time - just bad luck, nothing more. He once told me that he went mountain biking to keep his legs in shape for his true love, cross-country motorcycling. I think he really loved mountain biking, that was just his excuse.

Most of you didn't know Hoby, but I hope you at least knew someone like him. He was, as a general rule, the happiest guy I ever met. No matter what happened, he was having a great time. On the rare occasion that I saw him angry, it didn't seem like it was real - he was laughing all the time. And that laugh. I can still hear it echoing in my head. He started out with a loud "HA!", then sort of morphed into a chuckle. You couldn't help but laugh with him, whether it was at himself (often), yourself (not quite as often), or some really bad joke that he just told.

He was 58 years old, about a year into his retirement. We participated in a triathlon in May as a relay team - I swam about a mile, our friend Strether biked 25 miles, and Hoby ran the 10K to finish it off. Boy was it hot that day... how did we do? We surpassed all expectations. We finished, and we weren't last. By much. My girlfriend brought her 2 boys to the triathlon to camp with us. They met Hoby, and by the end of that day, it was Hobes this, Hobes that. They loved him within minutes.

If you didn't know Hoby, I truly hope that you know someone like him. Everyone should have a friend like Hoby - generous with both himself and his posessions. Always a ready laugh, a pat on the back, a beer if you wanted one. And he never asked for anything himself, though he was gracious if you gave him anything. Hoby was really a cliche - a man who lived life to it's fullest, all the time. There was nothing small about Hoby.

The word of his passing went out on a thursday morning. By noon, the house he shared with Judy was full of friends, crying and laughing, and holding each other. By noon on Saturday, there were 200 people at the house, people who had come from across town, driven in from Portland, flown in from the East Coast. We told stories, drank, ate, talked, cried, laughed... And as I sat there, beer in hand, looking around at the mass of people filling the house and backyard, I thought to myself, "this is the true measure of the greatness of a man". One can only hope that this much love is attracted to onesself.

Bye, Hoby. We miss you. Keep a cold one ready for me, eh? I'll get there, one day.