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In Memoriam: Stu Harmon – Farewell To The Friendly Roadrunner

In Memoriam: Stu Harmon – Farewell To The Friendly Roadrunner

It is never easy to write a memorial piece for someone you knew well. As you start typing, you start remembering details that strike out at you, things that at the time were trivial enough to not be remembered clearly, but now that they are gone, ring like a church bell right next to your head. When a loved one passes, or when you lose a close friend, the feeling can be overwhelming. But what do you do when it’s someone you know from the Internet? Think about it…for a lot of us, it’s been about twenty years since internet forums for this hobby we love became the root spot for people to meet and share ideas, discuss plans and dreams, and maybe to have an argument or to share a joke. The community knows when someone passes along, and the community as a whole feels the pain. But have you met your Internet friends before? Do you know what they are really like when they aren’t behind the keyboard and the screen? We often have characters for ourselves, an avatar of what we envision ourselves to be. Does reality line up with the digital person?

In many ways, I’ve been privileged to meet many people that I’ve known on forums over the years, even before I got to where I am now. I’ve had quick conversations at tracks, I’ve had lunch with some, I’ve been at racetracks and have helped wrench on their cars. I love meeting the actual person behind the screen, finding out the real story. In a way, it helps me out with my own introversion issues. And sadly, last night I learned that one of the best I’ve had the privilege of meeting has moved on. Stu Harmon, in the general sense, worked on garage doors around San Francisco, the end. But to the Mopar community at large and the car community as a whole, Stu was the friendly face, the welcoming committee, the good humor.

I met and got to know Stu via Moparts.com. I got to learn about the “MPM Clubhouse”, his garage at home for the Mid-Peninsula Muscle Car Club. We’re not talking just having beers at this dude’s house, we’re talking a legit clubhouse. I know that for a fact because in 2009, I made a last-minute decision to have Thanksgiving dinner with Stu at his house. I packed up late at night and hit the road, desperate to escape the fate of being the lonely soldier at base in need of a spare home to eat at or worse, dealing with family drama. And I was not going to sit in my house that felt more empty than ever since my first marriage had crumbled to dust. Stu made the offer to come down and enjoy his company for the evening and I accepted. I shoved a sleeping bag and some clothes into my car and bolted south.

I actually had to re-read my trip write-up to remember all that happened, but here’s the short version: I got to his house, we had a fantastic dinner, and then stayed up enjoying drinks and laughing at the television until it was time to retire. My original plan was to sleep in my car somewhere and head north in the morning. He wasn’t having it, and let me couch-surf until he had to leave for work in the morning. Remember, this is a guy who didn’t actually know my real first name until I pulled up to his house. I could’ve been anybody. But because he knew me from Moparts, because I was a fellow car guy, he welcomed me like a brother and we had a fantastic time. I couldn’t thank him enough. As an added bonus, I drove the vaunted coastal highway on the return trip back up to Washington State and along the way, came to terms with where my life was and where it needed to be. In many ways, that trip was exactly what my soul needed.

I always wanted to get out to San Francisco to visit again. I wanted to see the clubhouse and to have good conversation, be it cars, friends, whatever. If my story was unique to Stu, it’d be one thing. But there is a line miles long of people who have similar stories, where they met him in person at the Clubhouse, or at a car show, and were treated like a long-time friend, complete with good food, good drink and good conversation. Stu was the kind of guy you hoped everyone on forums was. If he was at the grill, your stomach would be full. If he was at the bar, say a prayer for your liver, it’ll be worth it. His Plymouth Road Runner was the least spectacular thing about him, really. Anyone can appreciate a well-built car. Finding a friendly face in the masses who makes you feel welcomed like an old friend immediately…that’s much harder.

“A lot of the problems in todays world are caused by people not understanding or prejudging each others’ ways, traditions, and ideals. All this could easily be solved by a few hours grilling some hotdogs and sharing some stories on an overcast day in an empty parking lot. You don’t need much but some free time, a warm lunch and a cold drink to make new friends, laugh, and then realize we all have pretty much the same problems, fears, uncertainty as well as joy and happiness in our lives. We just need something in common to get us together to find out about others’ ways and for a few of us that love of cool automobiles or motorcycles or anything like that is that one tie that binds. I know that sounds a little simplified, and it probably is, but you get the point. We all many not understand it, but we are brothers and sisters doing time on this planet for better or worse…I’ll take the better, if you all don’t mind!” -Stu Harmon

Rest easy, Stu. And thank you.

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27 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Stu Harmon – Farewell To The Friendly Roadrunner

  1. Brad Gigliotti

    Stu was an awesome guy! I was there at the clubhouse that night you visited Bryan. I had the slammed white Dodge Ram. I just wrote this up on the MPM Facebook page.

    “It wasn’t until 2007 at a sea Bowl car show in Pacifica that Stu and I finally met in person. It went something like this.

    “Hi Stu? I’m Brad. Devilbrad.” That was my forum name back then.

    “You’re Devilbrad???? You are tiny! I thought you’d be some huge scary dude!” I’m 5’7″ about 165lbs.

    He then proceeds to give me a suffocating bear hug, lifts me off the ground, starts shaking the hell out of me, throws me over his shoulder and starts spinning in circles. I was so confused, but it felt OK, because it was Stu! Next thing I know we are in the bowling alley bar matching each other beer for beer! Every time I saw him at a car show or one of the few man cave gatherings I attended, I got the same suffocating bear hug and spin greeting and it was always embarrassing, haha. What a great guy Stu was. He will be deeply missed. RIP buddy!”

  2. Linda

    RIP to someone I knew on the internet and had not got to meet. He was very funny and kind with his words. I know I missed an opportunity to meet a kind soul that shared his love for cars. You will be missed by so many people that you touched your life with.

  3. Trina Drotar

    I had the pleasure of meeting Stu in 1973 and knowing, in person, his early passion for cars. He remained the same person as he aged that he was as a young man – kind, funny, and the best friend anyone could ever ask for.

    Everyone has a different memory of Stu based on when and where they met him, how they interacted, but each memory will always point to his kindness.

    You are so fortunate to have met him and have the opportunity to spend that Thanksgiving with him.

    I, like many, know him through his love of cars (he had a VW Baja bug that I helped him pinstripe and that he did the diamond tuck work on and there was a brown van that he tricked out and his Plymouth duster, among many other cars) from the time he could drive. I am glad to say that I knew other aspects of him as well, his sense of right and wrong and his dedication.

    This is such a lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing your words and memories!

    1. Sam Reveles Sr

      Stu was a great guy ..
      He always welcome are Car Club Bay Bombs to all his outing.. 4th July in Redwood City, Art and Wine Festival or wherever there was a show .. He love having people around him alway made people feel welcome by feeding us or just having a drink with him …
      Stu will be missed R.I.P. Cruising by that heavenly the gate.. tearing up the clouds..

  4. HotRodPop

    Alas, the greybeard herd gets thinner every day. Wonderful eulogy, sir. Sounds like a friend I’ve needed all my life but never found. Sympathies for your loss and to his family and friends. Godspeed, Stu, you’ve got a welcoming committee waiting!

  5. Joe DeBattista

    Stu was a great friend and a ambassador to the car community. Exemplified what it was to be a car guy and love everyone who shared in his passion. He will be dearly missed. Great words about a great man. RIP

  6. Monica Aguilar

    Like Trina, I knew Stu from high school. He convinced me to go to the reunion because I wanted to re-connect with him. A few others, but mostly him. I’ll never forget being able to go cruising with his wife Sally. Both are genuine people. I emailed Stu the morning he died. I thought of him often and in my thoughts there was ALWAYS that smile. Keep cruisin’, man. You’ll be missed.

  7. Dan schatek

    Stu is one of the greatest people I have ever met. Through our car club, my shop , car shows, and Facebook. He even had me build sidepipes for his Roadrunner. He always mad us laugh.

  8. Tom \"Hollywood\" Hunsaker

    He was one of the best. I\’m glad I had the pleasure to meet him at the clubhouse a couple months ago. RIP.

  9. Ogre

    Something I posted elsewhere earlier today

    *sigh* Well, bugger.

    I just found out one of my buddies died last night. Skin cancer that eventually metastasized.

    On one hand, I\’d only ever actually hung out with him in person like, maybe five times, tops. But we\’d been on the same mailing list since I joined it in mid-2001. It\’s a mailing list for car enthusiasts specific to the Mopar family, and associated offshoots and adoptions. (Aptly named, the \”Mopar Mailing List\”.)

    Stu was one of the most genuinely friendly and happy people I knew. The first time we hung out in person was in July of 2002, when I rode my brand new motorcycle out to the Bay Area to attend a Thunderdome fundraiser, and a friend from the group\’s annual birthday party / street party / group ride. Since it was a pretty new bike, I needed to change the oil after riding out there, because I was still breaking in the engine. With a simple \”Try not to get oil all over the driveway, right?\” he lent me tools, a catch pan, and hung out while I changed the oil. He\’d decided that my coming out was a great opportunity for an \”MML Bar-be-que With Stu\”, and a dozen and a half of the folks on the list from near by all converged on Stu\’s place, where he fed us deep fried whole turkey, ribs, tri-tip, and beer. Other people brought more beer and side dishes, and a grand old time was had by all.

    Stu and his wife were good people. When I went out there again in 2003, this time with my girlfriend (now ex-wife), S., Stu\’s wife gave her a pretty darn nice leather jacket that didn\’t fit her, but fit S. Not, \”Hey, I\’ve got this thing that might fit you, wanna buy it cheap?\” Just handed it over.

    Stu was always up to hang out with folks, or help out a list member in need, and had the most astonishing patience in dealing with some of the more, uh, technically recalcitrant list subscribers. Long after the rest of us had completely lost patience, he\’d still be exchanging emails with people who were asking for specific technical advice, and refusing to take it.

    What\’s got me really wound round the captstan is that I knew he was ill, because he\’d mentioned it on the list, but I didn\’t know how bad it really was. I was out in the Bay Area in early October, and I didn\’t make the time to go see him. And now I can\’t.

    RIP, Stu Harmon, muscle car fanatic extraordinaire.

    Stu was a *mensch*. I only ever saw him every once in a while, but every time I did he made me feel like I was a long lost family member finally come home.

    Gonna *miss* that dude. :\'(

  10. Rodney Prouty

    Brian,thanks for the kind words about Stu, I meet Stu years ago when I worked at Gotelli Speed shop, he came to every show we had and was a freind long after I left gotellis and the bay area….. God Speed Stu… god speed brother… and by the way…. Fuck Cancer

  11. marcie l bernard

    I knew Stu and Sally from way back in the day and I am sad to say I let two really good people slip from my life-now one of them is gone. I feel awful and I can only say R.I.P. Stu, and Sally I am so sorry for your painful loss.

  12. Scott Liggett

    Another genuinely nice person who helped make the world a better place for all who met him taken way too soon.

  13. Kim

    I never met Stu in person, but became friends on FB. He was hilarious. His never ending stories, jokes etc. always made my day. I could tell by his posts that he was a loveable big teddy bear. I’m sure he will have heaven in stitches. RIP Stu.

  14. Mike Potter

    Stu was a good man. I would see him at every local car show and he always offered me breakfast. He has a HUGE car family that really loved him. RIP Buddy….

  15. Fred Loveland

    Rest in Peace my Friend Stu Harmon, your laughter and your Friendship will be missed. I always loved running into you at shows and talking with you, and you supported the things that I was doing with my car, and our Veterans.

  16. Diane Moglia

    What can I say. Stuart, as I always called him, was one of my Best Friends. We met in our Senior year at El Camino High School on SSF. We instantly became friends and confidants. Spent a lot of time together with other friends all the time. We were there for each other for ALL the ups and downs. The passing of our parents, the birth of children, divorces, etc. Stuart was the best. Kind, loving, compassionate, and sensitive to other people’s feelings. I am truly heartbroken that he’s gone. I know we will see each other again on the other side. He looking over me, a guardian angel. I miss you Stuart, I love you very much. Until we meet again.

  17. Bill Petitt

    I just found out about Stu\’s passing. It saddens me beyond anything right now. I recall years back him stopping at a car show I was at with my 1969 Roadrunner 440 six pack. He pulled his Roadrunner to the curb of a street and walked in. Asked who owned the Roadrunner and I responded. We connected immediately. I ran the car show circuit with him then lost connection with him other than email or occasional calls. I wish now I had spent more time with such a solid great man. He did a lot for people, never asking anything in return. Great guy, great meeting up with him, I will miss him and I will see him someday again.

  18. Bill Petitt

    I just found out about Stu’s passing. It saddens me beyond anything right now. I recall years back him stopping at a car show I was at with my 1969 Roadrunner 440 six pack. He pulled his Roadrunner to the curb of a street and walked in. Asked who owned the Roadrunner and I responded. We connected immediately. I ran the car show circuit with him then lost connection with him other than email or occasional calls. I wish now I had spent more time with such a solid great man. He did a lot for people, never asking anything in return. Great guy, great meeting up with him, I will miss him and I will see him someday again.

  19. Dave Castine

    Stu rest in peace brother, Sally – I\’m so sorry. Stu and I were internet Mopar Fanatics, Fb buddies, I had my Duster he had his Road Runner. It\’s too bad his Grandson won\’t be able to experience him in his life – he will be sorely missed… and those daily jokes!! God Speed Buddy….

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