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Author Topic: Remembering Gary Hajek  (Read 965 times)

Online Dan McEntee

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Remembering Gary Hajek
« on: December 02, 2021, 09:31:39 AM »
 
   I just got word this morning from Mark Hughes that long time modeler, Lafayette Esquadrille club member, flying buddy and great friend to many of us Gary Hajek has passed away this morning after battling many health issues over the years. I believe Gary was 80 years old.  We were very lucky to have Gary with us as long as we did. He suffered a heart attack when he was in his middle 50's, and underwent multiple bypass surgery, and recovered from that, but his doctors cautioned him on the condition and to get his affairs in order. But Gary continued to hang around and enjoy life. Then a few years later, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he aggressively fought that also and put that behind him. If Gary was anything in this life, he was a fighter! He lived about 25 year beyond where the doctors said he would, and I think that gave him great satisfaction! I know his biggest battle that he would have liked to have won, involved the loss of his son who was also named Gary. Gary and his son were both talented hot rodders, and young Gary was building a successful drag racing frame and fabrication business called Hytek Race Cars that was just beginning to reach national prominence, when he was murdered in his race shop one morning many years ago. I had just gotten to know Big Gary through modeling, and had seen his son's business mentioned on national broadcasts of NHRA events. But sadly, the crime was never solved and no one was brought to justice for the tragedy. It hung over Gary like a dark cloud for the rest of his life. It was just a few years ago, also, that Gary lost his wife to a sudden heart attack. I can take some comfort in the knowledge that Gary is no longer in any pain or suffering, and that he is in the company of his loved ones again. He is survived by a brother, a daughter Sarah , who has been keeping us posted on Gary's condition, and some grandchildren I believe.

    There are many names in the hobby/sport that people recognize even though you may have never met them. I have long held the belief that there are also many names in the hobby/sport that are not as well known but belong to people that are the foundation of the hobby/sport. Gary was one of those people. Some of you may have met and known Gary from hanging out at the L pad at the NATS or on the contest circuit from as far west as VSC in Tucson and east as Atlanta over the years. I logged many miles traveling with Gary to contests and have many great memories of those times, Gary was a very generous man with his friendship, time and support to many of us. I am especially grateful to Gary for his support of my son Sean from the time he was a very young boy, all the way through his military career and to this very day. I know Sean and I will be forever grateful to him for his friendship. As an example of this, I have a short story. Gary and I met when I was helping to get a new control line club off the ground in the St. Charles area way back when. I had been flying the beginner class, and flying the usual stuff powered by Fox .35s. I had a profile Chipmunk that I had been flying with some success, and Gary often said I should put a better engine "in that thing!"  I was in and out of work at that time and new engines just were not in the budget. One day at Buder Park Gary handed me a box with a brand new Randy Smith prepared Magnum .40 in it and said "Here, get rid of that Fox and put this in!"  I objected because I could not pay him for it at the time but he insisted, so I installed the Magnum.40, and Gary was correct on it being just what I needed. A month of so later we were flying at Buder one evening  and I put up my first flight. I had been wearing a cheap pair of sunglasses I had perched on my head. I went into the wing over and going over the top, I felt the glasses fall off and attempted to catch them. By the time I looked up, the Chipmunk was exploding into incredibly small pieces as it hit the pavement straight in! I could see what looked like a broken crank case laying on the ground, and the thought went through my mind that I had not yet paid Gary for the engine! I was relieved to find out that the broken object was the muffler. The nose section was the biggest piece left and it showed that the plane had hit so straight and square that the mounting bolts had sheared, the engine slid back in the mounts and the mounts had taken the brunt of the impact! I cleaned up the engine, checked it out thoroughly, welded up the muffler, and it soldiered on in another model for many years. I paid Gary for the engine as soon as I could after that episode, (taking the crash and loss if an airplane as a sign and warning!) and I still have it in my collection and it will get used again!

   I will pass on information about arrangements and such as soon as I find out about them. Please keep Gary, his family and his friends in your thoughts and prayers.
 
     Dan McEntee

   
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Offline MikeyPratt

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2021, 12:22:20 PM »
Dan,
Iím sorry to here this, I met Gary years ago at a contest (and years later at the Sig contest)  and we hit it off and enjoyed our conversations.  Super nice Guy with since of humor as well, Gary was fun to be around and will be missed.  Light Wind my Friend!!

Mikey

Offline Larry Fruits

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2021, 03:11:39 PM »
  Thanks Dan for the info on Gary's passing. What a loss to the Stunt Community and  the world in  general. I met Gary many years ago while flying at Buder Park. We had many conversations under the shade of that big tree that is no longer there. He was a joy to be with. He was free with his knowledge and equipment in an effort to help others. He will be sorely missed. Blessings to his family and many friends.

 Fair winds and tight lines my friend;
   Larry Fruits   

Offline Allen Goff

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2021, 04:32:28 PM »
Met Gary in the mid 90s and became instant friends. That circle of Gary, Roger Wildman and John Davis are now just memories. Boy i miss those guys.
Cherish your friendships you have today, time is short. Rest my friend Gary.
Prayerís for the family and friends

Offline john e. holliday

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2021, 05:14:22 PM »
I can't remember when I first met Gary, but it seemed Like I had known him all my life.  One of the last St Louis meets I attended with the girls Gary walked up to Emy and handed her a plane.  He told her to go learn to fly it.  It hangs in the shop.  May he rest in peace. :(
John E. "DOC" Holliday
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Offline Will Hinton

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2021, 07:29:40 PM »
I got to pal around with Gary at a few nats and the thing I remember best was already mentioned by others, his sense of humor.  I think maybe the funniest moment in my life was the day we all sat down in the restaurant tired, hungry, and eager to be fed.  The poor waitress was quite young and when she came to Gary he just looked at her as serious as can be and said, "I'll take page three."  That poor girl nearly fell over until we all started laughing and she realized what was happening to her.
You just couldn't help but love the guy, he was so warm and friendly to all.  I have already been missing him when I go to the nats since it has been so long.
John 5:24   www.fcmodelers.com

Offline James Mills

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2021, 07:49:02 PM »
Dan,

Mark texted me earlier, very sad to hear of Gary's passing.  I remember the first day I met Gary at Buder.  He was flying a profile with a built up nose and an ST .51.  He was a very generous guy, truly a class act.  He was a tremendous help to me and Brian early on.  God Bless his memory.

James, Beth and Ben
AMA 491167

Offline Jim Hoffman

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2021, 09:05:21 PM »
Well said Dan.

Gary was a fine and generous man, also an excellent modeler.

Gary saved my butt many years ago.  My airplane stuff was in my friends van, traveling from home in Phoenix to the Nats in Muncie. My friend in the van had a severe health issue on the road and was in the hospital in St Louis and would not be able to get to the Nats. Fortunately my friend had family there also.  My stuff was in limbo and I was getting on a plane the next morning to go to the Nats.  I called Gary and told him my story and gave him the information needed. Gary said he was leaving for the Nats in an hour and would do what he could; no promises. 

A day or two later I connected with Gary in Muncie and he had indeed rescued my stuff. I was/am eternally grateful to Gary.  Not many people would have done that. 


Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2021, 06:19:47 AM »
My thoughts and prayers go out to Gary's family and friends for his passing. Gary was "one of the guys" at the Nats for years. I remember hanging out all Nats week with Bill Werwage and Gary, and the great fun we had. He was alway an upbeat guy with a great Stunt mind.

Godspeed Gary, and say hello to all the other departed Stunt fliers up there.

Bob Hunt

Offline Crist Rigotti

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2021, 07:44:45 AM »
Yeah, Gary will be missed.  Met him about 20 years ago.  He was a kind, and funny guy.  He was a gentle man too.  He was a friend.  I looked forward to seeing him every time I flew at Buder Park.  Allen Brickhaus, Gary, myself, and others would go out to eat and always had a good time.  Rest well Gary.  My prayers go out to his family and friends. 
Crist
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Online dale gleason

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2021, 08:09:46 AM »
The Gleasons have lost a wonderful friend in Gary Hajek. His presence always brought happiness. It was his trademark.

dg&LB

Offline Elwyn Aud

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2021, 03:58:12 PM »
Condolences to his family and friends. Found a pic from a past VSC.

Online Dan McEntee

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Re: Remembering Gary Hajek
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2021, 10:47:57 AM »
   Just an update. We have heard from Gary's daughter, Sarah, that they will wait until sometime after the first of the year for any kind of service. This is a common practice these day especially at this time of year. If you wish to send her a card or something, contact me by PM and I will send you her address. As soon as I hear of anything more definite I will advise you all.

     Hi Elwyn!  Great photo of Gary with one of his favorite designs. In the time I knew him he built several Barnstormers!  I think John Garrett may own this one now.
   Type at you later,
   Dan McEntee
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