Delivered at Wagenhoffer's funeral, December 16, 1999
Robert and I met at the Santa Monica Ice Rink, which is now Fred Segals. Every time I go there to contemplate overpriced headbands and accessories, I look at the ramp and imagine myself walking down and taking my guards off while watching everyone clear the ice for Robert's program on the practice ice.
But, that's where it began. Back in the late 70's Robert was part of the Santa Monica skating "rat pack." Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Carrie Rugh, Bobby Beauchamp, Keith Green, I and others. It was this association with these people and Robert that got me out of being shy and reserved. Robert and I bonded and became life long friends. I loved his carefree approach to life. We became so close that we could finish sentences for each other.
Towards the end of his competitive years, he rebelled against skating politics. But the judges were still in awe of his ability to perform so fluidly without "playing the game." He believed that he could, and he always did! Robert transcended the Protestant Work Ethic of "work hard and you'll be rewarded" by having an amazing natural talent as well as thinking positive. He worked "smart," not just long and hard. I liked that about him.
One time in our late teens, we decided to drive to the Bay Area on a whim. Robert brought his skates to the rink and an up and coming skater (no names) was working hard on a triple toe loop. Robert put on his skates, stroked around the rink once (no warm up), landed the triple effortlessly, and hopped off the ice. He removed his skates and said "let's go"! He was like that. Just to prove he could. Having fun with his talents that were limitless. Despite his disagreement with some skating politics, no one could ever take away his reputation as one of the greatest skaters of all time.
Robert to me was "Gene Kelly" on and off the ice. When troubles arose, it was easier to deal with the problems together. Then, we would escape together into a scenario that had happy ending. I mean, we would escape to a place as if we were in a movie. The Woody Allen movie "Purple Rose of Cairo" applied to our lives. He loved nature. We'd escape to a remote place somewhere.
Later, we both joined Ice Capades but ended up in separate companies. I'd fly out and visit him. He'd fly out and visit me. We stayed close friends even to this day. He was always a concerned friend. He treated me with so much respect as I did him. As a close friend, we lived our lives like we were immortal. Anything was possible. Robert and I had developed a strong bond. We had intuition with each other. We both just knew. Today, I look at life with a different edge because of my formative years with Robert...
With my career now that's a different aspect of the entertainment arts (interior/lighting designer), I take a little of the "competitive" Robert into my business ethics. Know and recognize your talents and then go for it, knowing you'll have a smooth landing. It's a philosophy that works for me.
My husband and I were talking about Karma on the night of Robert's death. We defined Karma as things that we do being reflected back to us in mirror form. With respect to all religions, we were thinking hypothetically:
When you die, you are free from your body to be anywhere and everywhere at the same time?
You're free to listen to everyone, moving in and out of their thoughts because you've just passed on? You're a hot topic. You're on everyone's mind. You're a part of many people's discussions.
I think that's when "karma" after this life comes in. You -- and only you -- will know how much you've impacted people's lives and made a difference at that time.
So, I know that Robert is listening to all of our thoughts now. For Robert this must be a very rewarding moment. I know of so many people that have Robert to thank for their special moments, insights, and inspirations. We cruised the Internet the other night and found over 50 pages of memories involving Robert. "Wagenhoffer" is a keyword now. It's like his skating has been immortalized similar to the fine impressionist artists who received recognition after their death. When I think of Robert and how much he made me laugh and relaxed my spirit, especially during the hard times, I know that he's been a true friend to me. There will only be one Robert Wagenhoffer. I am so honored to have such a close friend pass through my life. He is charismatic, unique, non-conforming and completely charming. Orchestrating his programs and the programs of others, serenading us with his effortless dynamic skating. No tension, just the enjoyment of watching grace on ice. But more importantly, he is a confidant and a truly treasured friend. Robert, your charm and character will always stay with me. You've made your mark! In the meantime, we'll keep in touch in my dreams!
Maybe it's like the analogy of "All that Jazz." God has probably been thoroughly entertained by Robert. He is probably clapping his hands for his life performance well done. Since Robert is a true entertainer, I would like to give Robert what he would love. Would you all join me in a final round of applause for Robert Wagenhoffer.