9/14/39 – 10/15/01

   [This eulogy was delivered at Stefan’s funeral on Saturday, October 20, 2001 by Brooke Jones, Stefan’s second wife and the mother of his daughter, Kristin Ponek. It is reprinted here to help you remember Stefan as he would like you to remember him – as a man who loved laughter every bit as much as he loved music.]

“Stefanovich Ponekowsky – part Pole, semi-Seminole”. Once upon a time Stefan referred to himself that way. He was, after all, part Polish and part Seminole Indian. He was many things.

As I contemplated what I would say today, the first thing that occurred to me was that this room would be filled with a very interesting assortment of people. Thanks to Stefan’s eclectic walk in life, what we have here are veterans of the Paisley and Patchouli past; Generation-X upstarts; and a lot of people taking it “one day at a time”. This gathering also includes Stefan’s two children; his three (count ‘em – three) ex-wives, and his lady. If ever there was an opportunity for me to stick my foot in my mouth, this is it!

I know he’s watching right now, and I can hear him saying “Be careful!”. Okay, I’ll be careful.

Stefan and I first met in Boston in August of 1969 – just days before Woodstock. In 1973 I moved to San Francisco. Stefan was working at KSAN. I began hanging out at the station and made a point of routinely telling Tom (Donohue) that the station sounded “okay”, but it would sound much better if I worked there. (I was 22 years old at the time – I was an idiot!) Stefan and I soon became friends. It was a friendship built on a very solid foundation – he told me he had a son named Seth…I told him I had a brother named Seth. Hey, friendships have been known to spring from stranger things.

In April of 1978 we had our first date. He cooked dinner – angel hair pasta and a really fabulous home-made pasta sauce. I thought “Wow, this guy can cook!”.  Little did I know, pasta sauce was the one and only thing he knew how to cook…unless you count his ability to simultaneously flame-broil all the contents of a grocery bag…but my daughter already told you that story.

In the Fall of 1978 Stefan was the Program Director of KMPX. One afternoon in October, while eating lunch and waiting for a phone call from Benny Goodman, Stefan was hit by what he thought was a major case of indigestion. What it was was a major heart attack. He did what came naturally – he went for a walk and smoked a cigarette.

He walked back to the building that was the home of KMPX. The buildingalso happened to be the home of about a dozen doctor’s offices. He walked into an office and said “I think I’m having an attack of indigestion”. The doctor took one look at him and said, “No, actually I think you’re having a heart attack”, to which Stefan said “I can’t be having a heart attack, Benny Goodman’s about to call me”.

Stefan had an abiding love for music – all kinds of music. Whether it was a 40-piece symphony orchestra or “four white boys with Marshalls”, Stefan “got it”. If you’d sit still long enough, he’d tell you that Freddie Mercury was Mozart in a previous life; that the Beach Boys begat the Back Street Boys; that Marilyn Manson is a latter-day Alice Cooper; that Alanis Morrisette is “Starship – Next Generation”, that Snoop Dog is really just Pete Seeger with a good tan and a bad attitude, and that, on any given day, a little Polka can save your soul.

Between the two of us, Stefan and I worked at every place in the Bay Area that started with the letter “K”, with the possible exception of K-Mart. Sometime in 1980, while I was Rockin’ The Bay at KMEL, he was on the air at KYUU and a character by the name of Madame Dictionary began making regular appearances on his show. The crusty old Bag (Madame Dictionary, not Stefan) claimed to be the world’s foremost authority on the mis-use of the English language.

Each day, before she was scheduled to join him on the air, Stefan and I would sit around the house, legal pads and pens at the ready, and we’d retool the Mother Tongue.

He’d say: Protracter -- I’d say: A farm vehicle that gets paid.
I’d say: Altercation -- He’d say: A fist fight between competing seamstresses.
Horrific – A fabulously talented slut. Dragnet – Material used to catch cross-dressers.

An artful segue of music and laughter, that was Stefan Paul Ponek, Jr.

I’ll leave you with this one final story….When I was pregnant with Kristin, Stefan and I, like all expectant parents, spent lots of time trying to come up with a name for our baby. One night Stefan had an epiphany. “I’ve got the name” he said. “Boy or girl, I’ve got the name!”. I waited and then, with a smile on his face, Stefan said “Stereo!” Okay, say it with me now….Stereo Ponek!

He was a deeply twisted puppy…and I’ll always love him.