Yesterday I received the sad news that an old friend had died. For those of us who knew him the manner in which he died is incredibly hard to believe.
Stinger Wallace was a larger than life character. I met him through a local model airplane club where, besides being the club's instructor, he was also know as one of the top "hot dog" pilots in the country. I imagine there are hundreds of r/c pilots in East Texas who learned the difficult task of flying and landing a model airplane under his tutelage.
There are other memories I have of him. In 1994 my wife and I lost everything in an apartment fire. Stinger used his connections as a police officer to find us at the home of a friend and made sure we were not in need of anything.
One thing you could count on, every model airplane event you went to someone would have a good Stinger Wallace story. Once outside of Crockett, Tx Stinger confronted a woman who had stolen a cell phone, we could actually here it ringing in her purse as the owner called it. Stinger got the woman to turn the phone over, and then we all watched in amazement as she cuts across grass fields and streets to leave the scene, leaving her husband and one of his friends behind. Another time he sent us all diving for cover as he tried to actually fly a model airplane with his feet at the controls. When the dust (and the wreckage) cleared we all had a good laugh; only Stinger would try such a thing. I often used to say to him, "Only you, Stinger, would try and (fill in the details, there was ALWAYS something).
When I first moved to Texas I spent many a night in Stinger's shop, talking planes and working on planes. The local r/c club was an instant group of friends for a newcomer, with Stinger as the older brother everyone looked up to.
I'm struggling with the decision to attend a memorial service for him. After all the events that transpired in 2005 I have struggled with depression and anger, and I just don't know if I'm ready to hear the sad details of how he came to pass. Perhaps one day old friends from the flying club will gather to talk of Stinger and tell all the old stories again.
I will strive to remember him for how he lived and not how he died. I hope he is free of whatever demons were haunting him.
Goodbye old friend.