For those of you who regularly read the Ford Report, you’ve been aware of the fight my best friend Kurt has been battling since last year with acute myelogenous leukemia. This morning at about 6AM, that battle ended.
A lot of people didn’t know who Kurt Wise was, and that’s pretty much how he liked it. At the time I met him, I was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Through the M98 forums I got to know his brother Kent and eventually we decided to meet up at a little field just outside of Monett, Missouri. The rest as they say, is history.
Over the years the two brothers and their parents became like family to me, and me to them. I played my first ever tournament with them, and we took second place! We gallivanted all over the Missouri/Oklahoma/Arkansas area playing in tournaments and scenario games.
When my marriage ended in 2001, I was obviously an emotional wreck. Kurt was one of the first people I called, to try and deal with the grief and put the whole thing in perspective. I will never forget what he said to me when I called in an emotional state and broke the news. He said “Good. I never liked her anyway.” That simple statement broke the state I was in and put things in larger perspective for me.
In 2003 I let him and his brother know that I was going to be leaving Oklahoma to try and start over in Florida. Kurt immediately said he wanted to go too, which came as a huge surprise to me. He had a good job and a nice stable life in Missouri. To this day I don’t know why he wanted to leave everything and move 1300 miles away, but he did.
We lived together at a Marina for over 2 years, and in due course I fell in love with my current wife Jamie and she joined us in May of 2003. After the Marina sold we all found separate places to live but were still close friends.
Kurt eventually found other things to do with his time than dedicating it to paintball, but he kept his gear just in case the itch hit him. We didn’t get to hang out as much as we used to, but when we did, it was like time hadn’t really passed.
As you go through life, if you’re lucky you get to meet people that in their own way define who you are. Kurt Wise and I had one of those friendships, and the relationship we had defined us in a way that’s hard to describe. As I write this I have tears rolling down my face trying to deal with the loss of someone who was like a brother to me.
Through that grief at his loss, I’m happy for him now that the pain is over and he can move on. I count myself fortunate to have known him. Kurt Wise was my friend, and I’ll miss him. But I’m a better man for having known him.
Love you, brother.