Hanshi Peter Urban
I received a call from Sensei John Hooker informing me of the passing of Hanshi Peter Urban only hours after it happened. I had a feeling that the purpose of the call was bad news. Call it intuition. But still, the news was like getting kicked in the stomach.
I first met this great man when I was a small child. My late Father had invited him to our first tournament here on Staten Island on March 13, 1966. I remember him "skeet shooting" boards that day. I was amazed, as any 8 year old would be, as I watched him break board after board in mid-air.
He was then, as always, intense. I looked at him and saw my Dad. They were built the same, and both had these fists like steel, and calves like rocks.
My Dad and Hanshi Urban had met several years earlier at the legendary Chinatown Dojo. Dad often related stories to me and his students about the Spartan Training that took place there. He was so impressed with Hanshi Urban, comparing his way of teaching to his own.
The one thing I CAN say is that in all the years they knew each other, they NEVER had a disagreement or argument. NEVER. Which, if you have been to the many thousands of tournaments throughout the years, is in itself a miracle. Believe me, Dad had locked horns with many Senseis over the years. But never with his friend, Peter Urban.
One evening, a few months before my Dad's passing, Hanshi Urban and Sensei John Hooker came to visit Dad and myself at home. Click here for Sensei Hooker's poignant account of that evening.
I can tell you this. That evening will live in my memory forever. Here were two "old warriors" sharing stories and memories of the Golden Days. John and I just sat in awe of these two Great Men. Hanshi Urban read one of his favorite Dojo Stories to Dad and me. To hear him read a story, was like hearing a great Radio Play. His inflection, enunciation, and pronunciation were perfect.
He was both eloquent and animated in his portrayal of the different characters. Somebody should have recorded this evening for posterity.
When my Dad passed on, there were over a thousand mourners during the two day visitation. Hanshis, Senseis and students from all over the country came to pay their respects. When Hanshi Urban walked into the room, you could hear a pin drop. Everyone, even non-martial artists grew silent.
When I saw him approach, the tears streamed down my face. I knew he had come to say goodbye to his friend, and how difficult it was to do so.
He stood in front of my Dad's casket and prayed silently. Then, gave a DEEP bow. He then bowed to me and hugged me, the tears now streaming down his face. They were friends to the very end.
When I was to be inducted into the Sokeship council, I called Hanshi Urban to seek his advice and request that he officiate. He was honored and pleased to do so. He arrived, as pictured, in top hat, white tie and tails. This was a man of CLASS and DISTINCTION. I will never forget the sage advice he gave me (he was SO correct) and the eloquent speech he made on my behalf.
This was a man of vision.
THE LAST OF THE BEST.
An irreplaceable brand of Martial Artist that only the FEW were fortunate enough to have called Sensei and Friend. I am so very proud that I was in that close circle. I will remember him as a Sensei like unto my Father. I will miss him terribly. Rest well and give my Dad a kiss for me.
With Love and Gratitude-
Hanshi Pete Siringano
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