Hot! Wish You Were Here

Surrounded by friends, as usual, Carl Yde. (Circa 2003)

“So you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell.
Blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?”

Pink Floyd’s, “Wish You Were Here”, a classic rock staple if there ever was one, and played, by the way, on your very own 101.5, WIBA-FM, Classic Rocker here in Madison,(home of 4:20 Floyd) is a song that exudes the expression of loss. (The life force of Floyd, Syd Barrett, was the inspiration for the song, penned by Barrett’s replacement, David Gilmour). No matter how many countless times you’ve heard it, it still resonates to your core when you lose someone you love, or lose someone that was close to you in more ways than they would ever have imagined.

On Friday, October 17th, 2014, the good Lord took Carl Yde, all of 49, away from us, leaving behind his lovely wife Lynn, two beautiful children, Donald and Lola, his sock eating hunting dog, and a never ending wake of friends, clients, co-workers and extended family members that could effortlessly regale you with tales from the countless Carl stories catalog from here to eternity.

“And did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold Comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?”

I met Carl in 1998, just after I had accepted a position as an account “executive” for WIBA-AM, WTSO-AM, and WMLI-FM in Madison. I was on my way to my first official company soiree, the “Coach’s Party”, an intimate gathering of coveted radio clients that got a chance to rub shoulders with University of Wisconsin coaches, among the notables at that time; Jeff Sauer (UW Hockey), Dick Bennett (UW Men’s hoops), and Barry Alvarez (UW football). I was actually more interested in meeting Matt LePay, the voice of the Badgers, who I considered to be the best talent in the building, at least in the unique world of radio play-by-pay broadcasters.

Instead, the first person I was introduced to was none other than one Carl Yde, an energetic soul adorned with a Badger cap atop his head, and apparently hell bent to have a good time. Bounding out of his van in the parking lot of the Raddison hotel, Carl intercepted me; “I’m Carl, you must be the new guy. Welcome aboard, let’s go get a beer and have some fun. I’ll make sure you meet all the important people, like Brenda Wildt”. It was an inside joke, but later, after I met Brenda, (gorgeous) it became clear that this guy Carl not only knew how to have a good time, but he knew who to have a good time with.

Words are in short supply when it comes to describing Carl, especially because Carl was such a wordsmith himself. He kept a Thesaurus in his work space and it’s pages were tattered almost beyond recognition. Carl taught me how to decipher the daily Cryptoquote, and he was a daily crossword puzzle aficionado, Jumble guru and a Sudoku wizard, all accomplished before he left his home for the office.

At one time our radio group had hired a copy writer to help with the client’s creative. I looked at Carl, and simply said, “And for what?” Everyone knew the best copywriter in the building went under the pen name, “Gump Yde”, hockey legend, aka, Carl. Carl could not only take the “theater of mind” of radio to another level, he would lay his velvet voice all over those words too, and he cherished every moment of it. Who else could take clients like Buck Rub, the Roxbury Tavern, Wenzel’s Beef Sausage, Bennett’s Meadowwood Country Club, Washington County Golf Course, (or any golf course for that matter), and Meuer Art and Picture Frame and consistently distill epic :30 and :60 memories? 18 commercials to describe the 18 holes at Tyranena golf course in Lake Mills, with it’s “gently mounded greens, just a full sand wedge from Madison”. Pure genius, sort of.

Here’s the obituary Carl wrote for his Dad, he told me he wrote it in 15 minutes:

Richard C. Yde, Sr.
December 9, 1925 – August 12, 2014


On Tuesday August 12th 2014 Richard C. Yde, Sr, doting Grandfather, proud father of seven, and adoring Husband, left us for the “Happy hunting grounds”. He passed away peacefully, and apparently happily, as he continued to smile while trying to plant kisses on his attending nurses up until the very end. Richard was a veteran of World War II, in the Pacific Theater, entering at the tender age of 17 years. Upon his return he met, and won the heart of his dream girl, Lola Mardelle Estenson. They remained married for 61 years during which Dick would tell anyone that would listen how he married the most wonderful girl in the world. Most agreed that he had. Seven children followed, for which Dick carried an unbridled pride that was the cause of incessant boasting. Dick made a living, and put several of his kids through college, with the profit from several different entrepreneurial ventures, the product of his exceptional resourcefulness. Dick loved keeping company with his buddies, or his boys, in a duck blind, deer camp, the golf course, pheasant hunting in Nebraska, or simply at the bar with a cold one (or several). A colorful character, to put it mildly, Dick had a passion for sharing fantastic stories of questionable veracity, off-color jokes, and hearty yuks with close friends or strangers alike. Dick’s mercurial nature was progeny of quotations whose source was unmistakable, and content unbelievably funny. “Lola, where is the goddang woof waddy pitcher”. It’s a virtual lock that another one like this will never come off the heavenly assembly line. The blueprints were eaten by a German Shorthair Pointer.

Richard was preceded in death by three paragons of sound human character; his wife Lola, a Grandson Jorgen and a Son J.R.

A memorial service will be held 1:00 pm on Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Cress Funeral Home , 3610 Speedway Road, Madison. Immediately following, we will fete, and roast, Richard at a site yet to be determined. Appropriate attire is not required but your sense of humor and “gemulichkeit” are a must.

How do you make an obituary an instant literary classic? That was Carl, talented.

Within mere days on the job, Carl took me under his wing and then promptly told me to organize the dozen or so “group accounts” that littered the airwaves under his organizational guidance. “Heff, I need you to get together the the copy for these 17 businesses on Monroe Street that are part of my “Monroe Street” group radio campaign plan. I’ll take care of you down the road, (buy me a beer) but can you help me out, ‘little buddy’?” Done, no questions asked.

You see, Carl was a guy’s guy. Outdoors man, poker player, golfer, hockey nut, (a former back up goalie to three other goalies in the heyday of UW hockey in the 80’s, allegedly), a Madison born and bred All-American citizen that, in his own unique and gifted way, you could befriend in a heartbeat. Never mind the fact that some 10 years later, diagnosed with Lyme’s, Carl would struggle with his memory and a zillion other related afflictions from the disease, it all just enhanced his artistry.

Carl was such a successful salesperson’s salesperson that he fled the halls of 2651 South Fish Hatchery road and started his own advertising agency, Y Advertise. Why advertise with Carl? Because you not only received the greatest copy writing in south central Wisconsin, you were now officially on retainer to have a good time. Pheasant Hunting? Check. Golf outing? Check (Cigars included). Fishing excursions? Check. (Although you might not catch anything, disclaimer). Hockey games? Double check. (Ref: “Wade Fest”). Deer Hunting? Check. Poker playing? Triple check. His Y Advertise corporate headquarters outpost in Verona featured a Smoky Joe Weber Grill at the doorstep and a constant stream of ESPN in the visitors lounge. Smoked venison sausages from the deer he had slayed and an assortment of cheese sticks were propped up like pencils in koozies on his desk.

And don’t even begin to test his musical knowledge. Carl excelled in the world of radio not only because of his passion for the medium, his knowledge of sports and his passion for writing, but also because he loved music on the radio. Bring it all on, his iPod has to be preserved for all humanity. Merle Haggard, followed by Rick Astley, sandwiched between Twisted Sister and John Denver. Carl cherished music, and he could also bring the karaoke house down with his own Elvis Presley covers.

Carl could also organize a charity event for 50 people, talk his way into two minutes to promote it with Mitch Henck in Morning Drive on WIBA-AM, and fifteen minutes later, have the entire sales staff in the building listening to every colloquial phrase, all of us doubled over laughing from the tangents he would take the conversation to. “Five Minutes With Carl”, we could have lined up clients’ for the next five years to sponsor that segment. Priceless.

“How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
And how we found
The same old fears.
Wish you here.”

The economy crashed in late 2007 and Carl called me one day, I was having lunch at, of all places, Pot Belly, a sandwich joint in West Town Mall. I answered and left the racket of the restaurant and stood in the hallway leading to the restroom, where it was quiet. Carl asked me to see if I would ask our Director Of Sales to grant him an interview, he wanted to come back to works as a sales rep again. Typical Carl, always the gentleman. It was a slam dunk, Carl didn’t need to make the request, but he did, because he that’s who he was.

Carl came back to work at the radio group, and he moved in right across the aisle from me, in a space previously occupied by one Bill McTague. Bill was a unique salesperson too, but cancer took him away in his early 60’s. I joked with Carl,”You realize that’s McTague’s old cube, strange karma there”. Ha Ha. But Carl loved McTague too. We were actually on our way together to see Bill on his death bed the day he passed.

Fast forward to last Friday, less than 3 years after Carl’s brother J.R., had died unexpectedly of a heart attack (after losing his son, Carl’s nephew, prior to that), after saying goodbye to his sweetheart of a mother, Lola Marie, and almost 2 months to the date that Carl put his beloved father, Dick, to rest, Carl walked out the door of the radio ranch one last time, slapping the back of my chair on the way out, the way he always liked to do.

Carl was on the mend, having survived all the family passing’s, all the while continuing to battle the Lyme’s disease, and scaring us all with a quintuple bypass surgery this past summer. He appeared to come out of the major surgery with flying colors. The new Carl, the restricted diet, low cholesterol intake Carl, was still the sweetest guy in the world, even stronger, and even funnier. He was writing new business like nobody’s business, charting it all along is his unorthodox, yet productive manner. He was back playing racquetball, doing the things he loved to do.

And no one, and I mean no one, loved his kids and wife more than Carl, or loved everything about this world, that I have met, more than Carl. Now that he was finally catching some breaks, he cherished his family more than ever. Believe me, ask anyone in the sales area, they all knew Carl’s smartphone ring tones, because his kids were always buzzing his tower for homework help and countless other requests. Not a problem for Carl, no sweat, he enjoyed all of it.

All the while I thought I was going to be privilege to one of the greatest comeback’s from major heart surgery in my time, and absolutely relishing in the fact that more good-natured joke telling and ribbing was on the horizon with the one and only Carl Yde, right next door. But Lyme’s disease, and a rare condition that had led to his quintuple bypass surgery this past summer, ultimately, didn’t work in his favor.

“The Lord works in mysterious ways”, my Catholic nuns would repeat to me in grade school, over and over again. If that’s true, then this recent mystery tops them all.

How I wish, how I wish you were still here.


One of your many, “Little Buddies”

1 Comment

  1. That was the most beautiful eulogy a best friend could ever write, my eyes are soaked, Carl’s soul to a tee. We will keep him alive in our hearts forever. I know we will see him again there is no way that can ever not happen, and I have no doubt when we do he’s got us all lined up to tee off of some pretty fancy puffy clouds with cold beers in hand, with Hooter girls as cocktail waitresses of course.:)) Love your #1 fan, Mustard Girl

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