(Image not mine source unknown )
I wrote this obituary on January 9th 2018 on Facebook I decided to post it here as well as I might one day leave Facebook as I am not happy with some of the choices they make and I want a part of my Uncle to stay alive in the currents of the interwebs ...
I just found out that my uncle Alexis Guy Obolensky died last night. I am sad :( He was my grandmothers first cousin and the ex husband of my mothers twin sister. My uncle guy was not your average bear, if the doctor from back to the future had a baby with uncle Fester you would have had Guy. My uncle was a scientist and a brilliant one at that. He was recruited by Colgate at 19 and made millions for them and with them. He never had any formal training he was entirely self taught and a true Genius. He did some pretty crazy stuff after that in his own Lab and also was contracted by the government (on work I cannot discuss obviously ).
When I was 17 I lived with him at his laboratory and was part lab rat and part conversation partner. Guy saw the world quite differently then most people and conventional ethics and norms just did not apply or exist with him. Like uncle Fester he was not beyond self experimentation, but he equally had no qualms testing theories and things on you just to say “ I wanted to see how you react to ABC or how XYZ affects you”.
Most human beings did not really register with Guy at least not as equals. Most people bored him, on a deeper level, and like most eccentrics the needs or feelings of other people did not always register with him. However my uncle was never malicious or mean spirited, quite the opposite. When he was in the mood for people he was gregarious, friendly and open like a child. He loved talking to an audience about his quite interesting life. Stories about his friend the satanist rabbi who conjured demons in the lab and died there , stories about his inventions, women and many friends from all parts of the world were spun and given to an often wide eyed audience.
Parts of Guy remained the eternal boy, always wanting to tease you with the scientific equivalent of a frog down your dress, a glint in his eye enjoying the fun he was having with you. He was however never so good at ahdulting he married strong women who took care of the daily details he would completely forget. Both his wives made sure he was fed and that bills were paid , cloths were washed and his life organised. Chaos always broke out when he was left to his own devices. Thankfully despite his friendly indifference Guy was always able to invoke admiration and love in a steady flow of interns who, some more some less successfully, kept the grey parts of the world at bay for him after his divorces.
Sadly guy also had a few shady types who were drawn to him, and because he was almost child like in his approach to people he trusted fully and openly, some took very much advantage of him and he lost the lion share of his fortune.
Guy was no coward however he exposed some very unsavoury dealings in the military during the Reagan era and was not afraid to stand against the subsequent bullying that followed suit. When I lived at the lab it could happen that we had secret service people hiding in the bushes or parking on the other side of the street. Guy did not back down and I had some real respect for him for that.
I loved living at the lab. It was like some crazy sitcom. I lived on the top floor of the side house he on the bottom. Sometimes I would help him or watch him work in the lab. anything from shooting lightning bolts though the place to decontaminating equipment he bought from a nuclear plant could happen. He even had bottles he stored gold in protected by liquid cyanid. Most of his work was based on that of Nicola Tesla, who he worshiped. Once he decided to perfect the concept of a bug zapper. His version was bug zapping on steroids basically anything flying near the thing in a one and a half foot radius fell died out of the sky leaving a very disturbing round carpet under it.
My relationship to guy was strange, on the one hand he did experiment on me more than once. On the other he was one of the only people I could talk to about how I see the universe, quantum physics , sound affecting mood and other sciencey stuff I have peoples eyes glazing over with in most cases. In these moments he would look at me and it was like his gaze would focus and finally register me. On other evenings he would sneak up in my kitchen and raid my fridge usually going after the giant bottle of vodka I had stashed there and a cold slice of pizza . I would always mock scold him but he knew I did not mind. Often those were the times we would sit and talk and I would find out what experiments he had done on me, which we would then discuss in length.
There was one room in the upstairs that I was afraid of at some point it got so bad that I pushed a dresser in front of it. That evening Guy told me that a woman had died in child birth in that room and that he wanted to see if I would notice it. Even though he was a man of science he also had great interest in the idea of the paranormal. One of his girlfriends was said to be a witch and he would gleefully tell stories on how she told an ex-lover to drop dead and that he complied by falling dead from his horse right in front of her.
Guy was a father to 5 children 3 from his first marriage 2 from his last. 4 girls and one boy. Guy was not the best of fathers he was just to much in his own world to be. In many ways it is sad because all 5 of them grew up to be exceptional human beings and he only fleetingly caught glimpses of it. That being said I know that he loved them as deep as Guy was capable of loving and when for a minute he did focus on their existence he was very proud of them.
I lost contact to him over the years. When I was younger we would still talk regularly on the phone once or twice a year. But life does what life does and I got caught up in my own very turbulent one. I saw guy last in summer 2003 at a party at my aunt Bebe’s house. I was there because I had flown in my dogs from Europe and had come to NY to pick them up at the airport. I remember what he was waring it was a dress shirt with fine light blue pin stripes, some tan trousers with a maroon leather belt. The last impression my mind has of him is him standing between the living and dining room of bebe’s house with a plate of her cooking, that he always very much appreciated. His eyes crinkled at the corners, his wide friendly smile, head slightly tossed back and laughing at something.
Today I am sad. I lost my uncle who in a way I thought would live forever in his laboratory in my mental landscape. How is it that people stop aging in our minds when we have not seen them for so long. I don’t always understand my emotions or am not always able to decipher them correctly; but considering the tears that are flowing like rivers down my face as I write this, I must have loved him deeper than I even understood. To my cousins Helena, Anna, Michael, Nina and Alexa I say I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I love you even if I am more of a hermit and some of us have had differences in the past. You five are undoubtedly Guy’s greatest creations and he loved you more than you know.
And Guy I bid you goodbye if there is a life after death you are undoubtedly hanging with Tesla and Einstein <3 Until we meet again godspeed <3
Alexis Guy Obolensky 1929-2018