Beautiful tributes and stories, everyone. I think each one shows how much love and respect we had for the man.
I know not everyone has Facebook, so I wanted to make sure this post was available for reading by all here on KRRIP Voo (1971-2009)
This photo was taken during my first "in real life" encounter with Joe Truini.
Of course, those who knew him relatively well liked to call him Voo, short for Voodoojunkie. Indeed, the man owned a pouch in which he carried around his mojo that he picked up in New Orleans.
Before this meet up, which took place in 2007 in Cincinnati at the Flying Pig Marathon, I only knew Voo from his online postings in a running forum. I did know that he was a big and more muscled than a typical runner, and that physical size was matched by his running tenacity, which he documented in lively fashion whenever he posted a race report.
He also sported dreadlocks and a goatee. I had been to many a meet up consisting of people that prior I had only met on an online basis. Most of the time, I had a good idea of what to expect. I admit it was probably due to wariness based on his physical appearance, but I didn't know what I would be getting with Voo.
As it turned out, any wariness was unwarranted. Voo greeted me, like everyone else, with a warm smile and a handshake. As I watched him at future meetups, he would always greet people with at the very least an interested expression. As we talked, if it was like I was a long lost friend with whom he was getting reacquainted; I'm guessing that's how he treated most anyone.
I felt I got to know him a little more than most, as I have met him at three running races and a separate meet up when he came by my neck of the woods in California. My reality check in my mind says that's probably not the case, but Voo was the type where one meeting make you feel like you've known him all your life. So thus my little tidbit of a story.
We met over at a bar along Haight street that I knew had numerous beers on tap that he'd probably appreciate plus a place next door that served up scrumptious sausages that you could bring over into the bar to enjoy with your brews.
We talked about this and that for at least a couple hours. I knew he was a journalist who reported on the waste industry, and having worked for a company which cleaned up wastes in the environment, I was interested to hear his take on things, although in reality his reporting dealt more with the recyclable end of the waste world as opposed to the cleanup business. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to hear how in the heck he actually got started in that world; I doubt too many children come out of their young years saying they want to report on the trappings of waste industry.
There was much more fun stuff to talk about than work. His short-lived boxing/MMA stint was always a favorite topic of mine as well as his adventures with his Jeep. Of course, our mutual love of running invoked a whole myriad of tangential conversational pathways.
Later, we walked around the Haight looking for a replacement rasta hat, as his was on the verge of shredding apart. We figured the Haight would be a good place for finding one, but we found no such luck. We came upon one man who sported a fine specimen of a cap, but turned rudely away when Voo asked about its origins. Voo turned to me and joked that most people need to safeguard their drug sources, not their rasta hat contacts.
Further on, we found a children's clothing store that sported a shirt that would suit the children of a mutual running friend of ours. The T-shirt sported a drawing of a tattoo and a phrase written out in kidprint saying something to the effect that their daddy's tattoos were way cooler than those of the T-shirt reader's daddy. Voo broke out his camera and took a picture and posted it later that night for all to see.
The Haight during the day is generally safe, but still it was nice to have an imposing figure like Voo walking next to me in an area I don't normally visit. And you knew based on his past that he could impose that physicality if he really wanted and needed to do so.
But I knew Voo inside was one of the least imposing people I knew, but rather a very kind and caring soul. It almost sounds like a bad sitcom storyline, but I'm sure that little bird appreciated his efforts to try and save it after Voo had found it injured in his yard. Or that neighbor, unbeknownst to them, in which Voo's frustrations over an touchy issue were eventually resolved with cooler heads instead of fisticuffs.
I think he saved a lot of that imposing for his runs. There were times when he didn't feel it on a training run, but more often than not he would cowboy through it. And he would often pull up a personal record type effort on a race, despite a lack of adequate training or the race being not as important to him in the bigger picture. I think the ultimate display was in races where he broke out his caveman outfit - the vision was both apropos and endearing all at once.
When we eulogize someone, we tend to gloss over their faults and boost the individual to some pedestal that might not be completely deserved. I think the best thing about Voo was he was who he was and was comfortable with his faults, which in reality are minor ones compared to the major flaws we've seen with far more publicized people.
If you could accept him and all his faults, any of your relatively minor faults were not an issue to him. And for those who couldn't, no offense was really taken - he just continued being who he was.
In other words, Voo was a REAL person, whose large and, at first glance, imposing outside appearance was supplanted by an even larger sense of kindness and warmth on the inside.
Of course, 37 years is way too short a time for a person to live, as those who knew him are coming to grips now. Ironically with Voo, I think it only took a couple of meetings to feel like you had known him for 30-some-odd years.
Your life on this world may have been much too short, but we'll find a way to cowboy up, and the fond memories we have of you will linger within our minds for a long while.
Rest in peace, Voo, and may your running be easy and effortless in your new home.