Saying Goodbye to a Friend
This hit home on so many levels with me. For one, Gary was young, 35, and a heart attack?! Second, he leaves behind a wife and three young kids, and it was as if I was describing myself in this paragraph. My heart breaks like no other for them, and the loss they have suffered.
My interactions with him were more professional than personal, but that didn't mean we didn't connect on a personal level. I captured what would be his story, the part that showed the world, (especially those that disagreed with him) that he was human, just like you; just like me. What makes me more sad and proud at the same time, was that he wasn't a close personal best friend, but our paths did cross; it couldn't have been for no reason. I remember going up to Kokomo Toys to see if anyone wanted to talk to us for our documentary and the owner's wife, told me that I should talk to Gary "Goggles" who would be in the following weekend to show off his G.I.Joe prototypes. This posed 2 problems for me; one, I didn't live in Kokomo and it was at LEAST an hour drive one way if not more, so there was the cost of time, but on top of that, I am not interested in G.I.Joe ONE BIT! However, I know that a lot of people are, so I convinced myself that for the sake of talking to someone who collected prototypes, this would be an interesting segment.
I could have let either of those two reasons prevent me from meeting with him, but I went up there the following weekend, and I'm glad I did. He showed me the "First American Hero" prototype he had and talked with me in length about the fascination with prototypes and G.I. Joe, and when he talked with me about how he runs his own podcast and had a ton of followers online, I jumped at the opportunity to come back with cameras. And so I did; all went fantastic and I hadn't realized that nearly two hours had passed in the interview (the longest by far of all my interviews).
When Jordan Hembrough (Travel Channel's Toy Hunter) backed out of our documentary, Gary initiated and told me to contact Shane Turgeon, who would be a much better fit for the movie, and he was right! I owe a lot to Gary; he helped me in more ways than I realized. I sent him a link to the movie once I had finished it, and till now, I'm not even sure he ever saw it, but his friend Justin from GeneralsJoes.com wrote me back that he was really excited for the movie, and seeing Gary's twitter, it seems he was indeed looking forward to it. He was an avid movie critic so I would have loved to hear him tear it apart (assuming he would), but it's something I will never get to experience, and for that I am sad.
I'm glad that I got the opportunity to tell his story; I just wished it could have been longer. I'm looking to update the Master discs to include a special tribute to him, by including the things in the interview I couldn't add for the sake of time and finish with a question I asked him, that didn't even seem that relavent until today: "What will happen to your things, should the inevitable happen?" I look forward to sharing that thought with you and I want to leave you with two thoughts:
Gary LOVED the G.I. Joe community. He thought more of you than you probably know; especially to those that butted heads with him. He was passionate about your interests, because of the passion he felt it deserved. He felt that he was misunderstood sometimes, but he rolled with it.
The other is that he knew what mattered to him most, and it wasn't prototypes, G.I. Joe or movies. It was his family and the people who he could share his experiences with; to anyone who would listen. That's why he drove to Kokomo Toys once a month (3 hours away!), so that he could meet people and bring that spark of nostalgia to the surface. It worked, and people like me listened.
Gary, you had a lot left to give, and for that I am more sad than I can describe. I cried myself to sleep last night thinking about you. None of us got to say our proper goodbyes and that is hard. I only hope that the legacy I have for you on discs can relay some of who you were to your own legacy that lives after you. To the G.I. Joe community, you lost someone important, even if you didn't know it; to his family, you lost a great husband and father. I recognize that and hope one day you'll find peace with this sudden tragedy.
From my heart to yours,
Garry "Goggles" Head