The Ian Kortbek Memorial Skatepark Opens
from left: Eddie Stover (organizer), Tom Buol, Cindy Rabey (Ian Kortbek's mother), Alicia Martin (organizer), and Ray Torrey (organizer).
The Ian Anders Kortbek Memorial Skate Park saw its first official action Wednesday, Aug. 20, after a brief dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew a large crowd to the West Side Road park.
Project organizer Ray Torrey thanked the donors who gave money and time and, to the applause of several mothers in the audience, reminded skaters that they must wear helmets while skating. The Rev. Pat Harrison gave a brief blessing, asking that Ian Kortbek’s spirit be with the skaters "today and forevermore." Then it was time to skate as about 25 skaters descended upon the park for an afternoon of thrills and spills, Ollie airs and board slides.
The opening also featured a raffle and cookout. A total of $1,977 was raised for the Ian Kortbek Memorial Fund at the event from the raffle, T-shirt sales and donations.
The following is excerpted from a tribute found in the November 2, 2002 issue of the Block Island Times.
'Best friend to a lot of people'
He was one of the originals in a cast of many characters. From the first day of school he made us laugh with his jokes and outbursts. If you were having a bad day, Ian could change that, causing you to laugh until you cried, and smile until your face hurt. Whether he was reciting lines from movies, or debuting his own original creations, he caused those belly laughs that make you feel joy and pain all at once.
I cant do justice to someone with such a great personality. Im just trying to show how much he meant to me.
People were always drawn to his outgoing and welcoming disposition. I dont think I can name one girl who didnt have a crush on Ian Kortbek - I know I did, for about six years. He had the power to make you smile when youd think youd forgotten how. Its the kind of gift many people wish they possessed.
We would get in trouble a lot in class for laughing. Well, mostly I would, for laughing at things he was saying or doing. This never made sense to me. Why am I getting in trouble for just being happy? Why would he get in trouble for making someone sing with laughter?
He was an athlete. Though he started some sports later than others, when he took the field or court he looked like he had been there all along. He brought his competitive nature to every game, and also pleased the crowd with his humor and skills. He was sure to give the crowd a little French pastry - only his schoolmates will understand the phrase - every game he played.
He would download about 200 songs a day. Mostly, they were songs we hadnt heard of, but he was sure to spread the word, and by the next day one or another would be a unanimous hit within the school.
He was always online, talking with his summer friends and friends from the island. When I needed a good laugh because schoolwork was getting me down, I would simply sign on, send him a warm greeting, and wait for what he had in store for me.
He started his countdown to summer in September. It was his favorite time of year, and he let everyone know it. I can still hear him asking me, Hill, are you ready for summer? Its so close! while we would be sitting in a snowdrift in the middle of January. He should have been a comedian; he should have been a professional skater. He should have been a movie star or producer; he should have been a millionaire. With all of his talents, Ian should have been a lot of things. But most of all, he should still be with us today.
It is indescribable, the pain that I felt when I heard this heartbreaking news. I couldnt imagine going back to Block Island and him not being there, skating in the boat parking lot or at the post office; not running into him randomly and hearing the latest catch phrase he had introduced to the island.
Everyone from the graduating class of 2002 has lost a part of themselves; something that had always been there, and that cannot be replaced.
He was one of my best friends. He was a best friend to a lot of people. He was a great person, and no one will ever be able to forget him. He will live on inside of me, and in everyone who knew him well. I will see him every time I watch a funny movie, and hear him every time I download a new song. I will never forget Ian.