Lewis Joseph Young
July 19, 1939 – December 15, 2009
All who really knew Lew felt and will continue to feel his amazing and wonderful spirit in caring for and helping others, dedication to always doing the job possible, his sense of loyalty, the brightness he spread with his keen wit and the joy he spread with his humor. Lew was so giving, and loving even when…as he would so often say he was working on perfecting his curmudgeon skills. He often did things for people even before they knew they needed it to be done. His voice alone could calm any upset for me. Even though I hear him constantly it’s not working in the same way this last month.
I want to tell you a few things that not everyone may know about Lew.
He wasn’t always patient. I remember his story about writing to Frank Lloyd Wright when he was 17 asking to become an apprentice. After 2 months he had not received a reply from Frank so he joined the navy, still 17. Right after signing on the dotted line with the navy he received a letter from Frank Lloyd Wright accepting him as an apprentice. Instead of becoming Wright’s apprentice, his 115 pounds got soaking wet. He became a diver in the navy with the very large heavy suit. They had to put extra weights on the suit for his small frame so he didn’t drift off as he worked welding and repairing the hull of the ship under water. When someone had to go to the top of the highest pole on the ship in the storm the captain would send Lew and slow the ship down just a little as the pole whipped him around in the wind. Whenever there was an electrical problem on the ship that couldn’t be solved, the captain would call for Lew. Sometimes he just walked up to it barely touched it and it would start working. Not always but sometimes. That phenomenon happened at my house also many times.
If something was lost he would find it. Sometimes if I couldn’t find something…my keys, anything, he would call and I would find it right away while we were on the phone. He played flamenco and classical guitar at on one time. He bungee jumped off a bridge. He was a certified hypnotist. He grew bonsai trees. The list goes on and on. Will someone take one of his pots and grow a bonsai tree?
He loved animals and had many pets over the years. Currently he gave his pet attention to my parrot, Pistachio. He had an African grey parrot at one time named Aiki and taught it to say, “Great Scott, it’s St. Luis.” He was not pleased to learn my parrot didn’t always get it right. Pistachio would say, “Great Scott, it’s Screwy.” He once tamed (or as much as it could be) a coyote that he found. He said it was really something to experience taking that coyote to the vet. The waiting room could be filled with large dogs and when the coyote walked in the door every animal in the place would cower with its tail between its legs.
About 20 years ago, after never having done it before, he decided to buy an unbroken horse and break it in himself. He was so good to that animal and was temporarily heartbroken the only time that it bucked him off. It was the first time he got on Firedancer and it never happened again.
His unconditional love taught me to love and be loved in ways I had never known.
He was so supportive of growth for everyone. I received an email recently that said, every blade of grass has an angel leaning over it saying, “Grow, Grow.” That was Lew. He was always reading, studying and learning about history, science, art, animals, plants, people…all kinds of martial arts, and beautiful music that would sometimes bring tears to his eyes.
Just this week, a friend who was always feeling loss spoke to me just after seeing a rainbow. The son she lost had been a test pilot. I told her about 2 different times when I saw rainbows through the cockpit windows during flights years ago when the cockpit was sometimes open. I saw a whole circle rainbow. For a second I couldn’t understand what I was seeing because a rainbow is half a circle. The flight crew said that from the air the whole circle is seen from time to time. From down here on the ground, we only see that part of the circle that is not obstructed by the earth. If we could change our perspective, our point of view and in a new way at everything in our lives, we might be able to see the whole circle of our life…including all the colors of the rainbow.
I need you help. I’ve brought so many things of Lew’s for you to take and use to continue furthering his spirit.
He always said that this lifetime is his last time around. We should all remember to say some words that he said everyday: “I love you” and every night: “Sleep well and have pleasant dreams.”
Remembering Lew - Mark Adachi
I first remember Lew from the advanced classes at Rod Kobayashi's dojo. Lew was always an eager student and was always very energetic and in good shape, especially for his age. He was helping Ron Rubin and Susan Perry teach Aikido at the Claremont Colleges and I always enjoyed seeing him when I would come out to guest teach. When we started Aikido of Claremont at the Packing House, Lew was incredibly hard working and always ready to help out with anything. He was impossible not to love, with his wry sense of humor and exuberance. Mostly I was always struck by his humility. I always felt that Lew gave me way more respect than I ever deserved, but looking back I see that it was simply a reflection of Lew's own self-respect. He always did everything at a high standard, from rebuilding his Porsches, doing woodwork, but even more with the way he treated people, always kind and easy going.
I know that when we left Musubi dojo, it was one of the hardest things in the world. We had such high hopes for the dojo and when it didn't work out for us, it was heart breaking. What gave us solace was that we found excellent instruction from Robert Bryner Sensei. Lew made the long trek from Upland to Santa Monica several times a week. When Bryner Sensei wanted to concentrate solely on Ryukyu Kempo (now Ryu-te) and stop teaching Aikido, we were lucky enough to start working out in Glendale.
Again Lew made the long trek to Glendale. The great Zen Master Tesshu, in the late 1800's Japan, was famous for his dedication to training in Zen. He would travel by foot from Tokyo to Kyoto sometimes without sleep to meet with his teacher and then immediately walk back. I think Lew was a modern Tesshu in terms of his dedication to training. He drove from Upland to Glendale 2-3 times a week for years. He would carpool when he could, but mostly he did it alone. In this regard, Lew's efforts were just awesome.
Lew was so humble and eager to learn that even though he was nearly twenty years my senior and was way ahead of me in life experience, he would ask my opinion about a whole range of topics, not just Aikido. Lew was so bright and broad in his learning. He was always reading and learning something new.