New Zealand service for Leo Geary, Oct. 3, 1992






11-3-61 to 25-9-92 (24-9 in US, service 2-10)


Nigel Thompson MC

Bird on a Wire - Neville Brothers (Music)

"Free as a bird" they are singing.
Nigel says:

Welcome. Everybody is here because of the sad news that Leo Geary died in Owen's Valley practicing for the World Paragliding championship competition. It is a tragic loss and despite the fact that the immediate impact was enormous and shocking. I think that in passage of time we'll appreciate the person that he was and what he meant to each of us. As a reminder of that side to mourn his death but also hopefully to celebrate his life. In Carson City, cremation is taking place. Share thoughts and feelings and experiences we've had with Leo. During this time to fill our hearts and minds with Leo really. Rejoice in his life.

Introduction Time is too Slow - Henry Van Dyke

The first reading is of a poem copied into his diary cycling in 1987.
Time is too slow for those who wait, ...
But for those who love,
Time is eternity.

To Be Vibrantly Alive- Emmanuel's Book

Tim Wethy (Mentor Business Group). Tim is a climber, skier, and business friend of Leo's. Touched by his friendship.

I'd like you all to look outside, please." Gestures to window open to sky to right.

... "My dears, why do you tremble so?
Death is a swinging door."

He Goes On...And On... Crowded House (Music)

Nigel says:

There are friends and family in the US. Our thoughts and hearts go out to them at this time. The song was to be led by Carla who was in an accident, a reminder of what we're dealing with today. Please sing along.

Sung by Tim Wethy (playing base), Wendy Wethy (organ and violin), and Blair Macdonald (Guitar). Tim urges us to sing along for the chorus:
In his soft wind I will whisper,
In his warm sun I will glisten,
till we see him once again
in a world without end"

Carol & Mel's Poem To Leo - Alfred Lord Tennyson & C. Passmore

Actually, Mel didn't have anything to do with it. This was a favorite poem of my father, Iver K. Lind. He loved to quote it from memory. Crossing the Bar.
"...Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew out the boundless deep
Turns again home. ..."

To A Waterfowl - William Cullen Bryant

From a book of Leo's poems, clearly bookmarked with one of his business cards.

I Call Your Name - Johnny Clegg (Music)

Flying and Leo The Prophet- Kahlil Gibran

Read by Lynda Thoma (Fellow flyer). Martin Thoma

Flying, how Leo died. It might be difficult to understand what it was to Leo. To give some idea of what it meant. Share some of their thoughts and feelings. Diary. Talking about Leo and flying. If he were here today, he'd be saying, "Come on, people, what's the holdup, let's get going."

Flying is about a feeling of freedom, Feeling like a bird. Sight of humankind. To escape the ties of gravity. To explore those skies out there. To view the world from a different dimension. To have the ability to walk on air.

This common love of expression of freedom is what brought Leo into my life. The first time he appeared is interesting. A friend had told about a paragliding course run by that guy with an American accent. At the end of the course, 10 people had learned basics. The instructor had lost his voice. For you who knew Leo, it's hard to imagine, but easy to understand. We became friends. We had lots of fun and shared experiences. Talking about prospects of flying with others. Last 2-3 months he lived it, he loved it. He enjoyed adventure. Always trying to go higher, always trying to fly further, and generally staying in harmony with the natural elements.

Here is a picture of Owens Valley, flying at 14,000 feet. Thanks, Leo, and let's get on with it.

From Leo's Diary

Richard Van Nieukoop (Fellow flyer). Read the "fun loving Yahoos leaping in contraptions" from Leo's bicycle journal. Then says,

I wonder if he knew at the first sight of a parapente how it would influence his life. We met at an open at Queenstown. When we first met I knew Leo was a special person. We've always been friends. With Leo, it was so easy to be friends. Share together to speak closely, to go out. Looking around I see lots of people who were touched the same way. I love Leo as a friend. I always will.

Leo enjoyed flying so very much. His enthusiasm for it was infectious. Just being around him was always a process. Any pilot has a style of flying. The way they sit in the harness, the way they move the glider in the air. If I close my eyes, I can see Leo flying. See him soaring. I can hear his voice when he comes down. He always used to say, "That was the best flight ever."

It got better and better for him. The last flight he made over 130 kilometers over 14,000 feet. That's it. I'd like to introduce Bob, a fellow flyer from Wanaka.

Bob says:
Leo was a special person to all of us. Especially those of us who were paragliders.

I'd like to ask everybody a big favor. Look out to the sky, on the count of 3 say, "Leo we love you."

I never really thought about it much, about paragliding, about what it is. Then I realized that when you die, the soul leaves the body, flies free into the sky. Everybody who has had a taste of paragliding is just getting their body ready for that ultimate departure when the soul leaves the body, flies free into the sky. Leo doesn't need a paraglider now because he's flying free with the clouds.

It was a real shock to us all to learn of Leo's tragic death. Sudden loss of such a close friend brought sorrow to our hearts. We will grieve for his untimely departure right in the very prime of his life. Even though he has left us, his spirit will always live on in our hearts and in memories. His joking smile, his sense of humor, and his friendliness will always remain with us. And even though Leo has gone he will not be forgotten. He'll be alive inside each and every one of us. Leo we love you.

Climbing Skiing and Leo

Nigel says:

Leo was pretty multifaceted. Leo wasn't just a flyer, he was a climber, skier. Couple of other friends of Leo's here to share that side of his personality and interests.

Justin Le Suere
Leo's climbing ... (I can't understand him. Another person takes his place.)

Neil Sloane
Justin got a FAX this morning from some other friends of Leo's in the UK. Arrived this a.m. at 7:30. From Charlie and Carla Hornsby, Simon Currin, R. Kirkwood, Andy Brunlo, John Sanders.
(reads the FAX)

Leo and I first met in June 1988. Leo was one of the first people Carla and I met in Christchurch. But that was not surprising. "Hi, my name's Leo. I know you guys from the ski touring. Do you fancy meeting up?

Dressed in striped leotard. His dynamic enthusiasm and gregarious predisposition were his traits. Always the teller of a good yarn and full of amazing plans for another preposterous adventure. He was never short of ideas. Frequently he surprised us all when, with typical audacity, he put ideas into action.

I never knew where his talents came from but they were numerous. For his first ice route, he chose the base of Tasman in winter. I was lucky enough to be there with him and I was more than a little apprehensive about his ability. But as it turned out, he cruised it. When his crampon came off, he stayed cool and fixed it while he hung from his axes. Not bad for a novice. That night from our bivy, we saw the southern lights and he gave me a two-hour astrological tour.

Whether it was Greek mythology or marine biology, Leo was at home with most subjects. His flat on Armagh St. was filled with books on everything. He certainly wasn't a man to debate with unless you knew the subject. We had other great trips together. The east face of Cook. D'Archaic, and a week in winter with him and Carla at Plateau Hut. Leo was bold. I watched him fly from the shoulder of Tasman with great envy and we soloed the south face of Douglas together. There were other adventures too numerous to mention. I always enjoyed Leo's company and he never ceased to amaze me. Most cats only have 9 lives. At times I thought Leo was the exception. Carla and I were deeply upset to hear that he had been killed doing what he loved best, living life to the full. We will miss him and the world will be a duller place without him.
Charlie and Carla Hornsby

Following notes are from the others listed at the beginning of the FAX.

For me too, Leo was one of the first people I met in Christchurch. He had his leg in plaster, but in spite of this he had mountain biked the hill (?) to watch the parapentes. As was typical of Leo, within moments of meeting him you came under his spell. He bubbled with enthusiasm about virtually everything. And had a love of adventure that infects everyone around him. Everyone knew Leo. He was that kind of person. His charisma and talents endeared him to anyone he came across. He will be remembered for his audacious and accomplished mountaineering feats. But his other skills should not be forgotten. It is two years since I left New Zealand. We have kept in touch and as time went on, his letters and letterheads grew increasingly polished as he created first a parapente magazine and then a business. I can only guess at what he would have achieved had he lived. His untimely death is a tragedy. It is a loss to us all and there is no real consolation. He died in the midst of adventures but that does not lessen the blow. All of his British friends send their deepest sympathies to those who will miss him most.

Justin back again. (Can't understand his words except a few snatches.) Most of his climbs were done solo. Caroline, D'Archaic, Rolleston. He had no illusions. He knew that flying in the mountains could take his life. It was flying for flying's sake.

(Guy in jeans and teal jacket comes in from doorway.) I want to talk about skiing. I know I'm not the only person who skied with Leo. Lots of people did, followed him down. He was a very special person for me. I haven't known Leo that long, but he made a disproportionately large impact on me by disappearing now. Leo was pretty impressive to see on skis. When the thermals disappeared (or appeared?) he was pretty keen to start flying.

He wasn't just wanting to get away as often as possible. He planned quality trips and going places where people didn't go and where for sure we weren't going to see anybody else. There were going to be no tracks on those surfaces. I shared a few trips like that with Leo. One shot up Rakaia, speed off for a 3-day trip, very organized. Very special trip. Knew what he wanted to do and was able to carry it out. Last year. Must have been the best trip we ever did.

Another was to the Two Thumbs at Mesopotamia on the Rangitata. We were pretty lucky on that first night to find the hut because we arrived late at Mesopotamia to see the station owner up there. It was supposed to be a short yak but with Leo it actually it ended up being quite a long yak. Went through a lot, cheered up this guy. Anyway, we found the hut. The trip up the thumbs. We had 3 days. Pretty blue skies and action up there.

Not quite sure why Leo came along with me on these trips. He was very good on his telemark skis. Really impressed me. I think he may have convinced me to get a hold of some last spring. Besides his skills, he did fall over on them now and again. He always came out of that big hole, face all covered with snow, smiling, sort of analyzing, saying, "I'm going to try that again." A lot of the time in the hut we'd get pretty low down. He told stories about ski touring trips that he did in Utah, where he did a lot of amazing skiing. I'm really going to miss the guy.

My Beautiful Reward - Bruce Springsteen (Music)

Design and Leo - Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Nigel says:

So far we've heard a little about the challenges that Leo set himself and perhaps its time to hear about some of the challenges he set himself in the workplace.

Nigel Wilcox (Design Studio Associate)
Leo John Geary. Designer, climber, flyer, and to me a friend. If he had been able to be here today, he would have stood there with that big cheesy grin and looked around and said, "God, you guys, this is really cool." He really would.

For me, it is a privilege to speak for everyone who ever worked in the studio and knew Leo from a business point of view. People who have a right to be here and can't. First and foremost, John (Burt), good friend of Leo's and grew more day by day. Affectionately known as "Johnny on the spot," whenever anybody has a problem, John can assist them. Jackie Ann Phillip was a (?) operator. Leo and Jackie very much similar kind. Lorraine would dearly love to have been here, in UK at moment. Officially known almost like a mum because she supplied him with chocolate muffins. We talk about Leo and his healthy pursuits. I'm sure he had some unhealthy ones. My special thanks to Gina who only go to know Leo for making the brochure. Spent the last 2 days sitting down preparing this piece of literature here which I hope that you take away as a bit of a memento to Leo. We had other people who were involved in the studio. Robyn, Bill, Grant, Kirsten, Barbara, like a train station some days.

When Leo moved in he was pretty much a colorful character. Leo's contribution was great. He taught us more about Mac computers than we knew. He talked abut Quark Xpress and trends that are happening today. Funny but it is the little memories that we do tend to remember most about people. Words like "cool," which he used to use. Or "chooser" try to explain to us how the Mac worked. "Golden" words used to describe experiences that he had. "Awesome". Words like MacUser and some lesser words.

There were 3 important things to Leo. Flying, his Mac in the studio, and Robyn. The two took prominence to begin with but after awhile the priorities began to change. The working till 2 a.m. binges began to stop and Robyn certainly won the day.

Today we are all sad. Let us be filled with the happiness of the fact that we had gotten to know Leo. For me personally Leo will always be here. He will always be part of the studio. This reading typifies the feelings that all of us have towards Leo.
Leo John Geary. Designer, Climber, Flyer, and most of all friend. God bless you.

"... 'Good-bye, Sully. We'll meet again.' And with that, Jonathan held in thought an image of the great gull-flocks on the shore of another time, and he knew with practiced ease that he was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all."

Being Friends With Leo Now That We're Almost Settled In Our House - Yeats

Read by Nigel Thompson and Denise Quinlan
(They paraphrased the poem for Leo). Denise said this poem was written by an Irish poet in 1929, writing about after the war, missing people. One of them in particular must have been quite a bit like Leo. This is for Leo from us. The plans we made. All the things we were looking forward to do, which we release.

Designer, Climber, Flyer, he,
And yet he had the intensity
To have achieved all to be a world's delight.
What other could so well have counseled us
In all lovely intricacies of a house
As he that practiced or that understood
All work in metal or in wood,
In molded plaster or in carved stone?
Designer, Climber, Flyer, he,
And all he did done perfectly
As though he had but that one trade alone.

Some burn damp faggots, others may consume
The entire combustible world in one small room
As though dried straw, and if we turn about
The bare chimney is gone black out
Because the work had finished in that flare.
Designer, Climber, Flyer, he,
As 'twere all life's epitome.
What made us dream that he could comb grey hair?

Message From Blair Macdonald

Nigel says:

We've spent time considering and appreciating the sporting and work side of Leo. You are probably aware of a personal impact that Leo has had on each of our lives. We're going to close now with a message from Robyn's brother Blair.

Proud to be in the company of (?), ... here to talk about a good friend, Leo Geary.

About two years ago we walked up (?) and down into Wanaka.

Leo told me, "You've been reading that book for so long about climbing the mountains. You should just go." I did and he was so right. Special bond between himself and others. Never seen anyone able to do that before. He put aside his recreational interests for the interests of others. I'll never forget. Out on a ledge. Sun was setting, was orange. Off to the side, the full moon was bright. In mid-air, you could see ... (?).

Leo I thank you on behalf of everyone that knew you. Help us realize ourselves, help us to know ourselves, give a clue for the future. Most of all for being someone special to us all.

Don't Turn Around - Ace Of Base (Music)

Nigel says:

(List of thanks.) Invites everyone to continue celebrating. End on a positive note with food, wine, beer at Mt. Pleasant at Leo and Robyn's flat. Continue to party and stand up and have a good time with this last song.

Personal Sympathy

Brochure prepared for printing at the Top Marks studio where Leo worked with the owner Nigel Wilcox and fellow artist John Burt. Content prepared and inspired by Robyn Macdonald and friends.

This service took place on Saturday, October 3, 1992 at 11 a.m. in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the Sign of the Bellbird. The cremation and service in California was at the same moment but it was Friday, October 2, at 4 p.m. In Minnesota, 6 and NY, NJ, 7. The weather was a terrible storm all morning. But it cleared up and a parapente sailed over at the start of the service.

Next day

The day after the service, Moira Murphy called from LA airport on her way back to England. She went to New Zealand for Leo's funeral. She said the climbers told of Leo's technical mastery, having climbed all the difficult peaks in New Zealand, the flyers told of Leo's flights, the design group told of Leo's artwork and graphic design. Many of the men cried and said that Leo could form powerful emotional bonds. A hanggliding flyer went over for starters, quite a surprise. Then the weather went through extreme changes from snow to bright sunshine. Moira told me of her vision the first day from protective thick cloudy white, with an angelic being down in the corner.
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