Stanley A. Tysell
When gathering memories of native Santa Barbaran Stan Tysell, I must begin with my own most recent, those of his long, painful would-be recovery over the past many months and the heroic daily struggle he endured just to hang on to the pleasure of his friends’ company, the music and stories, old jokes and poetic malaprops and, mostly, the tender care of his great love, Barbara. When beyond most communication in his last hours, Stan grinned and mouthed the choruses to “Sweet Baby James” and “Riding Down The Canyon.” His last words to me were, “Let’s get outta here – let’s go home.”
But Stan was above all a life force and he surely got his money’s worth out of his eighty years. His unflagging energies, wit, curiosity and generosity – as public school teacher, serious poet and popular local musician – touched many thousands over his long life in and out of Santa Barbara. Stan’s family were Swedes from Nebraska. His father, Ty, worked many years at Joe Guzman’s station across from the Fox Arlington and later taught auto shop at Santa Barbara High. Stan himself was a Wilson Wildcat and Camp Conestogan, also attending Harding, La Cumbre and Santa Barbara High, where he was regarded as a fine athlete and extraordinary piano player (guitar and bass too). At Cal Poly he founded the Cow-legians with sidekick Russ Johnson and later backed cowboy idol Roy Rogers at Pershing Park with the Riders of the Sunset Bus. Dozens of cowboy, swing and jazz bands and hundreds of gigs ensued.
Stan taught history and natural sciences for over 30 years in the local public schools, most notably at Vieja Valley near his beloved home along the lower Cieneguitas. He traveled widely and often, particularly to Japan and throughout the American West, where he liked to follow the paths of explorers like de Anza, Jedediah Smith and Joe Walker. In the 1970s he spent a long, snowbound sabbatical winter alone in a cabin above Mono Lake, where he started writing the earthy, mythic, poems that sparked his first publication, MEDICINE WIND (under the name TAI SERU, Tysell in Japanese). A second book of poetry, RECIPROCAL SURRENDER, is at heart a series of mystical love poems, while retaining the Chumash “lingo,” local references and Cowboy wordplay.
(By Jon Wilcox)
There will be a private family Celebration of Life.