On Wednesday afternoon Martin Schaedel, a trusted family friend and colleague, was taken from us way too soon in a freak small airplane accident.
He was only 23 years old but had lived several life times in that short time span (traveling to more cities across the globe than I could manage in a lifetime).
I met Martin over 4 years ago on FlyerTalk when he sent me a private message after reading one of my posts in the mileage run section — we had our first chat on Skype (he in Tokyo, I in Dallas) and we quickly became friendly — even as I found it unbelievable how well-read this teenager from a small town in Sweden was.
A few months later, he came over to visit for a week and quickly struck up a relationship with my 5 year old daughter and her soccer team – while dissecting the intricacies of the U.S. Healthcare system with my wife (a consultant in the field).
That was Martin – one second describing Pele’s bicycle kick to a team of 5 year olds, and the next discussing the differences in global healthcare policy with experts.
And of course there was a fascination with fast cars — one of my buddies who sells high end cars let us borrow a souped-up Mercedes for a joy ride out on the backroads of Texas. I knew after that trip I would never again willingly ride with Martin at the wheel of a vehicle (although I did – but only once after that – and he almost ran down a Danish royal guard in the heart of Copenhagen in his newly purchased BMW 3 series).
When he came to visit on future trips and stayed with us, I would toss him the keys to my co-founder’s Boxster (he lives in Durango and left the car it my garage) and tell him not to be late. Our relationship became sort of a 1950′s version of “Leave it Beaver” with me as the clueless dad and Martin as an odd combination of Beaver Cleaver and Eddie Haskell rolled into one.
I recall one hilarious moment when we had some friends over for dinner and Martin joined us at the last minute — we all sat around the table and began to chow down and Martin asked our guests (whom he had just met seconds ago) – using a fake Swedish exchange-student accent – to “say grace” before we ate – and my wife and daughter couldn’t help but giggle as our friends complied, wanting to please the young European. Days after that, Martin would IM me with a hearty ROFLMAO recounting their expressions.
And Martin could spin a yarn with the best of them – truth be known, this international man of mystery – this teenage whiz kid – was just like so many other kids his age, trying find out where he fit in and struggling like so many of us do at the end of our college years, wondering what to do with our life.
Martin, you were taken from us way too early. Rest in peace my young friend. You will be missed.