Roland "Commander" Sykes
June 1st, 1953 - March 10th, 2008
Wizard, Bit Twiddler, Philosopher, Teacher, and most fun of
The Bus Driver for ADAPT
From: Phil Calkins
I think I first met Roland at a NCIL meeting in the early '80s. He seemed like a nice guy, but all he wanted to talk about was computers. I knew nothing about computers. He seemed obsessed, and described earnestly how he was creating a network so that all of the CILs could talk to each other. OK, I thought, he's a really smart guy and probably he's doing something useful, but he's really boring. (Hey! How was I to know that Roland was inventing the internet?)
During the next couple of years, I came to know him a little better, and I learned that Roland was a really funny guy, as well. He told good stories about how he outwitted the bad guys and freed crips so that they could live the lives they wanted to live. And he organized support for Lucy and Mouth Magazine--my favorite publication. OK, so Roland was smart, funny, and a really good advocate, and, contrary to my original impression, he wasn't boring.
Over the next few years, I learned about Roland's various adventures--some might say crazy adventures. He flew a plane, and joined with some other disabled folks in Ohio to create a flying club. He was invoved in seemingly endless episodes of crazy adventures, mainly with his disabled friends, which always seemed to end well, and which gave Roland great joy. OK, so Rolands was smart, funny, a great advocate, and full of fun and adventure.
And then he began to build the BUS, his ultimate adventure. Whenever I talked to him, he'd give me a progress report on the BUS, and talk about the many ways that he would use it to help the disability rights movement. He began to show up with the BUS at ADAPT actions, where he could transport folks from this place to that place. He took Lucy to Tulsa when she wasn't sure she could make such a trip. OK, so Roland was smart, funny, a great advocate, full of fun and adventure, and he built the BUS--for us.
Because Roland also was a loving person. He loved us all. He loved his friends and took care of them when he could.
I loved him. I will miss him. But I hear Roland laughing now, and he's saying: Don't Mourn; Organize! Roland always had a good sense of what's important.