My dad passed away from a sudden and unexplained situation despite doing burpees the other week in our backyard. My dad meant a lot to me, and shaped who I am today with his wisdoms, protection, and stability. I delivered his euology and want to publish it here, on my blog, so that his legacy can live forever. His quotes & wisdoms will inspire all that I do, write, and think about forever.
I am Stefan Cheplick, John Cheplick’s youngest son. I am here to represent my dad, my mother, my two brothers, and the entire extended Cheplick family. I also want to acknowledge everyone associated with St. Rita’s, my dad’s most frequented Marin County church, where he would take us as kids, often standing in the very back, calculating the odds of us being quiet.
My dad did not talk about it much, but he loved simple, basic math. He would turn statistics into a daily game. He would say things like:
“We each hit 5 golf balls; whoever gets the three closest wins.”
“I think there’s only a 20% chance that stock will do that.”
“50 to 1 odds you can catch that Pokémon.”
Seriously, while walking the town of San Anselmo, while most people thought he was doing important business emails or planning from his phone, he was actually trying to catch rare Pokemon.
Because my father loved calculating the odds, I’ve tried several times to calculate the odds of me getting through this eulogy without breaking down.
100,000 to 1?
Maybe 1 million to 1?
But then I remembered how my father loved it when the odds were actually against him. He was at his best when no one had any expectations of him. He could try whatever he thought was possible, at his own pace. He had nothing to lose. He could only go up.
So, in his honor, I have to believe I can only go up from here.
My dad graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in Economics. He also played football at Lehigh on a full scholarship. During the years he played, the team mascot was known as The Engineer – a cartoon character depicted as studying trains and planes through a surveyor’s transit.
I loved this mascot from the first time I saw it because it had to be the least threatening mascot in the history of sports. The Bears had a big snarling grizzly, the Wolverines had a creature with sharp claws and fangs, but the Engineer’s mascot was skinny and scientific… And yet that’s who my dad played football for, training daily and clashing with others on the field. That juxtaposition, between the engineer and football player, is exactly who my dad was to me – tough but smart, nerdy but cool, solitary but talkative.
After graduating from Lehigh, dad made his way to Marin, where he spent 40 years of his life creating a family and building one of the Bay Area’s largest pension administration firms right in the town of San Anselmo, on the bridge looking over the creek. As kids, my brothers and I played nerf basketball on a hoop he had made from a clipboard, connected to the Internet for the first time on a 56k modem, and heard stories about how he bought his first Bitcoin.
This was the engineer side of John Cheplick.
Now I want to talk about the other side of John Cheplick – the family man, the philosopher, and the protector.
My dad was humble. I am well aware of how much time he invested into football during his youth, but you would rarely ever hear about it from him. I am well aware of the business my father built, but you would rarely ever hear it from him. I am well aware of the great family he comes from, how his father helped translate at the Yalta Conference in World War 2, but you would rarely ever hear it from. He was more than happy to keep such things to himself, sharing them only when he felt it was the perfect time.
My dad enjoyed living in the moment. The future wasn’t allowed to stress him out. Many of you saw him riding around San Anselmo or Fairfax on his beloved Vespa. For him, the Vespa was a reminder of the present – the wind blowing, the road passing beneath his feet, and him focusing only on the now, the here. In that moment, nothing in the past or future mattered and that’s why his daily Vespa rides mattered so much to him.
My dad always persevered. I have many stories about my dad’s strength, but one of the best examples happened the other week. After 8 days of intense fighting in the ICU, my dad looked at his three sons, raised his arms and said “grab my hands and pull.” So we stepped forward and grabbed, and he grabbed back. Then, on the count of three, he took a deep breath, biceps flexing, and he pulled himself up from the bed the best he could. There was a nurse in the room with us and I had never seen one look so panicked. “Stop encouraging him” she said, but my dad looked at us and repeated “Grab my hands and try again.”
That strength, strength that was passed down to me, is what’s powering this eulogy right now.
He also loved to share wise words. I want to share some of them with you today:
“If you’re going to do it don’t worry, if you’re going to worry don’t do it.“
This was one of the most quoteworthy things he ever said. I remember it every time I have to make a big decision, I still use it to this day, and I could hear him all morning telling me this, the second I had any doubts about speaking here today.
Another insight was:
“I’m not taking four, and I’m not going to right.”
In baseball, this means you have only one option: swing for the fences. And that’s what he liked to do.
Then there was:
“Be good. Be brave. Pay attention.”
My dad said this to the three of us because it was the three things he wanted us to focus on most. Of course, I’ve broken this code a few times and so have my brothers, but that still does not stop us from trying to live up to his words.
“The wise man looks for emergencies.”
I saved this one for the end because these last few weeks were certainly an emergency for my family. But now we can hear his voice telling us to go forward. To find the opportunity out there in this world that is waiting for us. He would never want anyone to stay sad for too long; actually, he would want the opposite – go do something, keep going.
I find great peace in knowing that my dad is now with his parents, his uncle Bill, his uncle Jeek, my mom’s parents, and all the other loved ones who passed on before him. Thank you to everyone for coming today to pray and send our love as he gets comfortable.
I also want to paste his obituary here, to complete his legacy, in my eyes on one dedicated page:
John Cheplick of San Anselmo, CA, passed away on September 25 surrounded by family. Born April 6, 1953 to parents John and Evelyn Pronko Cheplick, John grew up in the small northeastern Pennsylvania town amidst two sisters, a brother, and many uncles, aunts, and cousins. He was a proud member of his high school’s championship football teams and was awarded the regional James ‘Hookey’ Reap trophy for outstanding performance. He received a full scholarship to Lehigh University where he majored in economics. After college, he began his career in Newark, NJ, and then moved to San Francisco.In 1981, as computer technology was beginning to transform the operations of traditional financial companies, John founded Pensionalysis, which administers retirement plans for small and medium-sized businesses across the Bay Area. For over 40 years, John loved helping his clients fund retirement benefit plans for themselves and their employees. He took great pride in managing his business, forging lifelong client relationships, and supporting the town of San Anselmo. John is survived by his wife Tina Collette Cheplick, with whom he had 41 years of loving and fun marriage, and by his 3 sons: Thomas Cheplick and wife Ngoc of San Anselmo, Alex Cheplick of Fairfax, CA, and Stefan Cheplick and wife Erin of New York, NY; as well as 2 grandchildren Quentin Cheplick and Maeve Cheplick; brother Stephen Cheplick of Scott Township, PA, and sisters Susan Cheplick Daniels of Leverett, MA, and Tina Cheplick of Novato, CA. John was a devoted family man and father. He instilled in his sons the values of hard work, humility, and perseverance. He loved the family’s lake home in Pennsylvania, playing golf, watching Bay Area sports, following financial markets, reading Balzac, and riding his Vespa around Sleepy Hollow, San Anselmo, and Fairfax. Funeral services will be held on October 1, 2022 at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Fairfax. The family requests that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to Coastal Health Alliance in Point Reyes Station, a community health clinic serving all of West Marin.
Thank you for reading this post and celebrating my dad with me, all that he accomplished, and everything he did in his life.