Friends remember victim as 'remarkable man'
That is how friends who knew him described the Brattleboro resident, as a remarkable and selfless man who loved singing, dancing, camping and assisting others.
"He was a very generous, very loving, very kind person," said Elisabeth Yesko, who first met Softky at the Thosum Gephelling Institute, a Buddhist center in Williamsville. "He was an extraordinary human being."
Softky grew up in a family of Californian scientists before making his way to Vermont. While he worked as a computer programmer, his passion was Tibetan Buddhism.
"He's just a very kind, gentle, sweet guy. He'd do anything for you," said Gary Keiser, who has been close friends with Softky for more than a decade. "He was just a good person, he was just a really good person."
Keiser, the director of the Thosum Gephelling Institute, said the center's Web site has a special section established in the memory of his friend.
During his time in Brattleboro, friends said Softky found his calling through the community-oriented atmosphere and different group projects he engaged in.
"He was just really in his element, he was someone who really found his place," said Keiser. "He just enjoys life and enjoys having a good time."
The 44-year-old Softky died at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Thursday morning after he was struck by Jean M. Mahoney, 63, when he was trying to enter the back seat of his Toyota Corolla parked on High Street.
Friends say Softky was on his way to the Brattleboro Area Hospice, bringing snacks while completing his volunteer training when he was struck.
"That's where he was going Thursday morning when he was killed," said Caitlin Alder, who knew Softky for the past two years through their joint projects in Westminster West.
Softky would serve as the American translator to Tibetan Buddhist teacher Geshe Ngawang Singey at monthly spiritual events at Sanctuary, operated by Alder and her husband Peter.
Without Softky's fluent translation of the Tibetan language, many people would not have learned all the wonderful teachings from Singey, said Alder, who said she will best remember him as the kind translator of southern Vermont.
"Ed is probably the most generous person I know," she added.
Earlier this March, Softky and Singey held a lecture series, "Balancing Ethical Choices for Peacemakers and Educators," at the SIT Graduate Institute campus.
Softky met Singey in India during one of his trips to study the language, said Alder. Singey now resides in Vermont and remained very close friends with Softky through their work together.
Friends say Softky had the opportunity to meet with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and the head of the government exiled from their homeland. He also made a strong connection with Tibetan monks throughout New England, many of whom are planning to attend his memorial service because of the strong connection he made with them, according to Keiser.
Recently, Softky organized a camping trip to Pennsylvania for 19 people to spent additional time with the Tibetan spiritual leader. "He made it all possible for everyone to go," said Alder.
Although this tragedy took the life of his friend, Keiser said Softky was a very forgiving individual who would have realized this was just a horrible accident and would not have been upset or angry about the incident.
"It wouldn't have even been on his radar screen," said Keiser. "That's the kind of person he was."
Chris Garofolo can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311 ext. 275.
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