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Stanley "Stalie" Opatka


1944 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Stanley "Stalie" Opatka Obituary
Stanley Opatka, 73

WORCESTER - Stanley "Stalie" Paul Opatka was born July 12, 1944, in Grafton, the only son of the late Stanley and Anna (Valis) Opatka. Most of Stalie's life was spent in Grafton where he graduated from elementary school and Grafton High.

Stalie was a bona fide musical prodigy. He was introduced to the French horn when he was eight years old. After high school, he went to Boston where he attended the Berklee College of Music and subsequently graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music. At eighteen, he joined the Boston Symphony, played the French horn with ballet companies, with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company where he transcribed music for the company, assisting the production of Madama Butterfly, the long version, which had never been seen before because of its great length. He played here in Worcester for a long time with Harry Levenson at such venues as Institute Park and the Worcester Art Museum. He went on tour with Mantovani and also found time to travel to New York City late at night with friends after a performance with the Boston Symphony to make commercials. All in all, he worked as a professional musician for 25 years.

Stalie joined the Army Air Force and served for five years during the Vietnam War. During that time, he played with the Air Force Strategic Air Command Band and while with them, he conducted the Air Force Field Band. He also found the time to produce plays and direct some of the choirs. After his enlistment service ended, he continued to play French horn in Boston theaters and worked for the Opera America Research Library based in New York City.

Stalie left the music business to explore a long-awaited goal. He loved fast cars and he pursued that passion with schooling and became an automotive technician. This position allowed him to travel extensively, mainly to Germany and Florida, while working with Mercedes. He also found the time to build racing engines in the basement of his then home with his close friend, Bill Adams. These engines procured victories at the New England Championships held at the Speedway in Thompston, CT. He later became operation supervisor at Wagner Mercedes Benz during the last fifteen years before his retirement.

During the 80s and 90s, Stalie was considered to be a world class mountaineer, rock and ice. In 1992, he was inducted into the famous British Alpine Club whose membership includes people of the stature of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sir Christopher Bonnington. His most memorable ascent was of the north face of the Eiger in Grindelwald, Switzerland in 1988. This is an extremely difficult and treacherous climb. This area was made famous by Clint Eastwood in the film, "The Eiger Sanction". In 1990, he planted the flag of Worcester atop Mont Blanc and was given the key to the city for this exploit. In February 1991, he led an expedition to northern Maine where he and his team blazed a new route to the summit of Mount Katahdin along the West Ridge. He also worked as an advisor to the long-running TV series "Rescue 911". He loved teaching rock climbing and had several students throughout his life.

Interspersed with these activities, Stalie was an avid and knowledgeable fisherman. He and friends would scout numerous fishing holes seeking out large mouth bass in particular. After catching such fish during the season, they would weigh, measure and then photograph them, finally releasing them for another day. He received a number of awards in this area as well.

His last occupation after retiring from Mercedes involved building a first class, meticulously appointed shop in the basement of his condo where he repaired salt water rods and reels for deep sea fishermen. He eventually developed a large and dedicated clientele.

Stalie was a true Renaissance Man. He will be sorely missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to know him.

He leaves his dearest and best friend, Marie-Louise Poisson, her children Marie-Therese Poisson, Francois and Patty Poisson, Michele and Brian Thorne, as well as her four grandchildren. He also leaves his little dog, Willa, and his beloved felines Oliver and Ian James.

Calling hours will be held Sunday, March 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Athy Memorial Home, 111 Lancaster St., Worcester.
Published in Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Mar. 13 to Mar. 14, 2018
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