January 30th was the 33rd anniversary of Leo Seltzer’s death.
Roller Derby had officially ended in December 1973 when the last track was set up. But in his mind, it had ended before. He was so anxious to see it go to full legitimacy that it haunted him. And the fact that roller games was such a parody of what he created troubled him to the very end.
He was a successful developer of real estate in Lancaster, California, lived part time in Gearhart, Oregon where he fished, gardened and never stopped trying to bring back the game he loved. He was planning to spend the summer of 1978 in Montreal where he felt the best skaters he had seen of the “new” generation, because of the background in hockey and other sports. But a severe headache sent him to the hospital. I got the call from Belle and immediately flew to be by his bedside. During the time I was travelling, he suffered an aneurism from which he never awakened.
When I arrived at the hospital he was on a breathing machine. Because of a disagreement between us (I don’t even remember what over), we had not talked much in the last six months. I went by his bedside alone and told him how much I loved him and was sorry that I had disappointed him. Later the doctor came and talked to all the family and was pretty cold about it; my father’s brain had stopped functioning and the kindest thing to do was to let him pass away. We did the next morning.
I don’t think any of you reading this can realize how much I think about him and how the most important thing in his life besides family had disappeared in his lifetime.
And every time that I think or talk or look at Roller Derby today, I wish he could just have known what his game would become and how it would change people’s lives and bring joy and kinship to so many people around the world. So wish him a happy birthday on April 5. He will be 108.