Tschon Namru Ombadykow was born in a refugee camp in Liege, Belgium on Aug. 13, 1949, to a family of Kalmyk Mongolian holocaust survivors. Though he immigrated to the United States with his family at age six, he grew up in Howell, N.J., then a Kalmyk community.|
In his childhood years, Tschon helped to build one of the first Buddhist temples in America with his family. It was during this time that he found a love for construction.
Growing up in the '60s, Tschon embraced the hippie lifestyle with his long hair and beard. Wearing Nehru jackets and colorful shoes, he was band manager for the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Swallow. He also spent some time managing Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band.
After some time in Philadelphia, Tschon moved around from Vermont to Virginia, North Carolina, to Boston, Nevada and Arizona. Here, with the recommendation to head north by an Alaskan man, Tschon found himself en route to Fairbanks in the early '90s.
In Alaska, Tschon quickly became engrossed by Alaska Native culture. Of Kalmyk descent, Tschon was a lover of culture and connection, and he would tell any Alaska Native that they were related if they would listen (making claims about the Ice Bridge and other such things).
Always seeking commonalities in the people he knew, Tschon had an inherent respect for human differences and conveyed the importance of the individual to his family. With this belief held firmly for the remainder of his life, Tschon embraced his surroundings, always absorbing any possibility to learn about his friends and family.
Clearly, Tschon was a lover of history, of people, of culture, and of the relationships he shared. He had a deep passion for pursuing knowledge, and would read any book he could get his hands on. He had a fondness for the extremities of life, always informing far away friends of Fairbanks weather and snowfall measures for the year.
Though he settled in Alaska, he always spoke fondly of the places he had lived. With the "gift of gab," Tschon could easily pick up any regional dialect and accent, and since he had lived in most of the regions of the country, Tschon would easily fall into the accent of his opposite in conversation. His father a linguist, Tschon spoke Kalmyk, Russian, Chinese, German, French, Swiss, German and a few other languages.
Tschon's humor was unforgettable, and anyone who knew him could recite the stories that he delivered throughout his life over and over again. Forging a 63-year life of laughter, compassion and knowledge, Tschon was more than a father, a brother and uncle to his family, he was a teacher who encouraged everyone to be students of life and to explore and pursue their dreams and passions.
Tschon enjoyed building cabinets, cooking and fishing. He took frequent dip-netting trips to Chitina, refusing to miss the Copper River Reds each summer. With a passion for food, Tschon not only perfected old family recipes, but also was very inventive in the way he prepared his favorite foods.
Those that knew Tschon will remember his gentle laugh, his wisdom, the pride he had for his family and friends, and his perfect recitation of Kalmyk language and history.
Tschon is survived by his daughter, Dolma, and his son, Alex; his sisters, Ketty, Rolma and Gerel; and brothers, Zeren, Dava, Jigmid and Telo Tulku Rinpoche. He also leaves behind his two former wives, Stephanie Jordan and Cyd Redfield, with whom he remained good friends.
There will be a celebration of life potluck beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, at the Ken Kunkel Community Center in Goldstream.
Tschon never went anywhere empty handed and always loved to hear or tell a good story, so please bring a homemade dish and a few stories of him that you wish to share. Tschon didn't believe in mourning death, but instead, in celebrating life. This event is informal, but the family asks that you wear colorful clothing (please, no black).
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Nitsan Temple, Inc. Please send with a note to Nitsan Temple, Inc., 186 West 6th St., Howell, N. J. 07731.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Dec. 21, 2012