I just returned from the services for Gary Staiger- the long-time proprietor of Omega Music in the Santa Clara district on North Main- and as of a few weeks ago, in the Oregon District.
Gary was a community activist- an evangelist for equal rights- and an optimist, and as of Thanksgiving day, he became another Vietnam veteran who left this world too early. He was 62- although, his blog hadn’t been updated for a bit- he defined himself simply:
61 Y/O VIET VET WORKING FROM THE LEFT OF CENTER
via LEFT OF DAYTON.
Shiloh Church was packed. Poems were read- ones by Gary and others about him. The crowd was diverse- young, old, multi-ethnic, hippies, hipsters, judges and journalists, friends and family, and yet, everyone shared a bond for a simple shopkeeper- who would share his opinion at the drop of a hat.
I first met Gary long ago- at Dayton City Commission meetings, where we both battled to get our voices heard in the allotted time. First it was the “Defensible space” plan for Five Oaks- then dealing with prostitutes on North Main- and over time, we became friends. He also wasn’t a big fan of the way the Montgomery County Democratic Party ran- and did what it took to get appointed a precinct captain- to try to effect change from the inside.
Gary died on Thanksgiving day- he was found in his car on W. Third Street- people have guessed that he was trying to drive himself to the VA. The stress of moving the shop and dealing with the City of Dayton and the outcome of the last election were probably contributing factors to his recent medical issues. He had told me that he now understood why people grumble so much about the city and its treatment of small business. My guess is that different standards apply in the Oregon District compared to N. Main Street. He said he was going to write about it- after he made it through Christmas. Now the question will be if his store will make it with his kids in charge.
His knowledge of music and collectibles was encyclopedic- and that will be missed. He also put together killer play lists for the bi-annual solstice parties on Cherry Drive. But, his idea of a locally owned music store will only make it if we all make the effort to stop in and buy music the old fashioned way. So this holiday season- at least give Omega a stop on your gift-giving rounds- and see if you get a wave of nostalgia digging through the bins.
Gary wasn’t from Dayton- but he’d adopted it as home. He touched a lot of people here- and will be missed.
I wish I could say this is one of my better posts- but, I’m still having a hard time putting this all in perspective.
62 is too early to check out. But, if there is a heaven, and they have music playing- they just got one hell of a DJ.