Petr Cingl, a former Czechoslovakian, but now an American citizen, was born April 8, 1955, and left this life on Sept. 10, 2012.
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He was awarded a master's degree in electrical engineering, a prestigious degree from Prague's Charles University, before he became an exile in the USA. Here he was a homeless man by choice. He lived a life of honor and independence as he saw it. He found occasional hospitality from friends, but otherwise he lived on the discarded wealth of society - on the stuff provided by the transfer sites; on what he could find in the Dumpsters.
Petr loved to discuss philosophical problems of quantum mechanics, relativity theory, foundation of mathematics and engineering when he found congenial company. During summer days, he would make his long cycle treks through the Alaska road system to Prudhoe Bay, Valdez or Homer, and anywhere where he could find a road. He was a veritable Arctic Diogenes who replaced the famous tub of Diogenes by his well-maintained and beloved bicycle. He was also a valued friend.
He was unbound and unfettered and a true eccentric. He was honorable and independent. He thought a great deal and read widely. He worked and also worked out ways how to survive this freedom which he craved. Sadly, he died of painful pancreatic cancer diagnosed in May. So it took him, in the privacy which his temperament demanded, after nearly five months of solitary, painful dying to leave life behind.
The closest he came to heroic stature, however, was in the manner of his departure from this life. He needed his freedom and did not want to burden anybody with looking after him. So despite offers of help, he firmly refused to let anybody know what was the matter with him, the seriousness of his illness or the fatality of it. His closes friends did not know, and so he died alone.
He died as he had lived: on his own terms. Some of the frustrations of such a separate life, away from all amenities of civilization, were expressed by his language, and by his great fondness of smoking and drinking. But he also had great qualities: He was honorable and dependable; when he promised something, he always kept his word. Whatever he borrowed, he returned promptly and in the same condition, and he was physically strong. His way of surviving was that he lifted heavy stuff for people who no longer could lift much, or did a few odd jobs which were beyond the aging muscles of his friends. That is how he became the friend of many. He clothed himself and warmed himself, and fed himself by discards of the rest of us.
His friends shall miss him very much indeed.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Oct. 7, 2012