Blake Kurisko – An Appreciation
It is great to see such a good turnout this evening – but there is one person missing who, had things been different, I know would have been here. I’m referring, of course, to BLAKE KURISKO who, as many of you now know, passed away last Saturday as a result of injuries received in a fall. Therefore I would like to take a few minutes to remember and pay tribute to our Toastmasters colleague, Blake.
I first met Blake when he became a member of Town & Gown Toastmasters and from the beginning he took an active role in our club. He was always willing to learn; quickly became a Mentor to new members and then provided guidance and leadership when needed. He was an excellent and thorough Speech Evaluator and many times represented our group in the annual contests at the Area, Division and District levels. His speeches ranged from serious to very funny. On one occasion, at our early Wednesday morning meeting, Blake treated us to a demonstration of Zumba Dancing. At another he was talking about “exercising and keeping fit”. Instead of having power-point to support his remarks, he simply held up a photograph of himself as a young man – standing next to some guy called Arnold Schwarzenegger! Good examples of how to get and keep the attention of your audience!
He was very passionate about Toastmasters and this was obvious since he was also a member of a second club – Guelph Public Speakers. At the time of his death he was the Area 66 Director and I understand in June, upon finishing his term of office, he would have completed all the requirements for his Distinguished Toastmaster designation. Hopefully that is still possible, albeit, posthumously.
Despite dealing with health challenges Blake always had a positive outlook. Last autumn when he asked me to help organize the Area 66 contests I got to realize just how focused and meticulous he was in his role as Area Director. After the contests I spent an hour the next day deleting his numerous emails!!! He really was a pleasure to know and work with.
Blake was not only a contestant in Toastmaster contests but consistently volunteered for other roles too. Just a few weeks ago he was the Chief Judge at the Area 66 event. He hadn’t been able to attend our Town & Gown meetings for the past couple of months, but when I met him at the Area 66 contests he told me he was planning to return to our club on the 30th March. Sadly, that would not happen.
Blake contributed greatly, not only to both his clubs, but the Toastmaster “family” in this Division. He will be remembered and very much missed.
Thank you, Blake.