Tailwinds Day #8 – Gary Hollenbeck

For those of you following along at home, you are correct, I did not post yesterday.  It’s not that I didn’t notice a tailwind, in fact, my tailwind came to visit and it was very appreciated.

Technically, his formal name is Dr. Gary Hollenbeck.  I’ve always found a bit of irony in the fact that Gary has a prefix of such distinction.  This paradox has nothing to do with Gary’s intelligence.  His brilliance is obvious and unintentionally demonstrated by his quick wit and humor.   To me, it seems uncomfortable to refer to Gary as anything formal because I’ve never met anyone more egalitarian.

Gary - Ellicott City
Gary, Zach, & Kellie Hollenbeck – Good peeps if there ever were some.

During the almost 20 years I’ve known Gary, I’ve become close to his family and welcomed into the extended Hollenback network. Though I consider myself fortunate to be included, I don’t think I’m special.  I think it’s just the Hollenbeck way.  To know them is to be one of them.  Their people are now your people.

We met in August of 1998.  My season tickets Baltimore Ravens were one row in front of his upper deck seats. When the new stadium opened, he bought season tickets on the club level and in the upper deck.  His plan was to use both blocks of seats, determine which he preferred and then sell the other set. When I tell you that eighteen seasons later, I still get to hear Gary behind me sharing wisdom personally directed at John Harbaugh, it might begin to explain what I mean. Who gives up warm club level seats with clean bathrooms to sit in the upper deck with us commoners??? Gary does.

When it seems everyone is focused on the competitive rat race world, where status is interpreted by material possessions or job title, Gary’s managed to hold on to the philosophy that it’s people that matter.  He doesn’t have acquaintances, he has personal relationships.  He seems to know everyone, everyone is important. These relationships run the gamut of socioeconomic status or race.

Gary’s view during Orioles season.  If you can’t get to the upper deck, I guess it’s not to shabby.

If you visit the concourse section at Oriole Park where he resides during baseball season ask the 92-year-old usher if Gary has arrived yet, he will have an answer for you. His guests at a Ravens game are equally likely to be his kids, former students, employees from his favorite restaurant, friends of his kids, or the wife of our favorite beer vendor.

Photo Apr 09, 6 05 19 PM
Coolest lawn tractor in the neighborhood.

He can expound on the complexities of the pharmaceutical world, but he’s just as comfortable helping build a pinewood derby car for a 9-year boy and his work working challenged father.  He enjoys tinkering with small engines. Having acquired too many, he gave me a lawn tractor and jokingly mentioned a “lifetime” repair warranty.  Eight years

We didn’t win the Pinewood Derby,  but it wasn’t for lack of effort.

later, he was at my house yesterday, bringing this “vintage” machine back to life.

I know I’m not alone in my respect for Dr. Hollenbeck.  He’s been a tailwind for hundreds of students, ushers, vendors and many others that have been fortunate to cross his path.

He’s not braggadocious in the least bit and as such might not be to keen on this blog post.  But as long as I’m at it; did I tell you that when he showed up at my house on a Saturday to revive the lawn tractor he was wearing an “I just gave” sticker because he came by after donating platelets?  That’s Gary.  He’s even a Tailwind for people that will never meet him.






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