By Claire Malcolmson with contributions from Leslie Stevens
This month we are telling people stories, because as you likely understand, there is no advocacy for Lake Simcoe without people willing to do it. This is a sad story actually, but we absolutely wanted this man’s amazing story and spirit to be honoured.
Texas Joe Constantine was a RLSC Board member for about a year in 2020. He died on October 25 2022, in the arms of his loving wife, Leslie, who is my second cousin and who I know well through our connection to our family’s cottage property in Innisfil. He and Leslie own the old farmhouse I lived in with my young family in Innisfil for four years.
Texas was only 47 years old when he died of cancer. He did however live one of the fullest, freest and most meaningful lives I have encountered in my time.
As a RLSC Board member he simply offered to help and supported our very boring but necessary communications work. He offered the best help we can get, the “what do you most need help with?” kind of help. Little did I know what an incredible, inventive human Texas was when we started working together.
Soon, I understood the kind of guy he was: In 2020 Leslie and Texas built an ice sailboat and circumnavigated the lake over the course of a winter. The initiative was all theirs, in very typical Leslie and Texas style, and they raised $1000 for RLSC while doing it. Here is a news piece and YouTube link to their initiative.
First leg of the journey! Looking east from DeGrassi Point into Cooks Bay, winter 2020.
Texas lived life with enthusiasm and engagement, pursuing his dreams and supporting his beliefs. He was introduced to environmental activism in his teens, and spent much of his life supporting humanitarian and environmental action and activism. In particular, his long tenure at sea with Greenpeace, which he reports as many of the best times of his life. He dreamed of becoming a pilot, a dream that he made a reality over the past decade, culminating in his ultimate goal of being a pilot at Porter Airlines.
He loved to sail, to fly, to explore caves and mountains, back roads and bogs. He loved to learn new things, and was always working on a project that involved creating something, fixing something, playing at something, or tearing something apart. He was mechanically- and mathematically-minded, and practical in his approach to almost everything.
His friendships were essential to him, and he would make new friends everywhere he went; considering that the only place he says he hasn’t been is Thailand, that means he has friends across the entire globe. These connections to people, and working together for good things, or engaging in ridiculous escapades, or just being happy sharing space and a board game or a movie held immense value to him. Texas left a deep impression on people, and the interactions were always valuable to him.
Over the years, Texas said he had led a very fulfilling life; he didn’t have a long list of things he still wanted to experience or do, and that if he died, he would be satisfied with the life he had lived. When he received his terminal diagnosis, what he felt sad about was the “small stuff”: that he wouldn’t get to rebuild the porch on the Lodge and sit holding Leslie’s hand on the porch swing when they were old; that he wouldn’t get to go to the family gatherings; that he wouldn’t get to sail the trimaran one more time; that he wouldn’t be able to finish fixing the old Ford tractor (again). But he was right. He lived a good life; a fun life; a meaningful life; a life of adventure. Definitely gone too soon, but the time for which we all had him was amazing.
May each of us live lives so rich, meaningful,and fulfilling. Best wishes to all.
If you would like to support Leslie in this “turbulent journey” you can do so via Porter Airlines GoFundMe page.