How TURTLE got his name…
The “before TURTLE” was a patriotic military officer with a tremendous sense of service to the nation. Shortly after retiring from the Air Force began the “After TURTLE” where he became so well known that if you asked about “Theodore,” no one would know who you were talking about.
“Theo’s nickname ‘Turtle’ was in the true self-deprecating form Theo always preferred as he built those around him up. Early in his commuting days in Germany (around 1997), the newly-formed RACC (Ramstein Area Cycling Club), popularized by Patrick Morrow in the Kaiserslautern Military Community newspaper, we formed a lunchtime training circuit: Tuesday Time Trial and Thursday hill-sprints. Many times during these training events, a ‘rabbit’ would power their bike away from the group, then would be chased down by the main pack of riders. Theo would comment on how he was the opposite of the rabbit, therefore the ‘turtle’ of the group (but he wasn’t), and the name stuck.” ~Chris Burke
He took so much pride in his nickname that it became an indelible part of his persona that created so much love. TURTLE transcended a sport that is often far too focused on success and winning, and he made it about bringing good people together to share a joyous experience. He brought out the best in us by emphasizing that friendship, good food, good drink, and believing that stopping for an espresso and cake (and beer), AKA Kaffee and Küchen, were as important as how many miles you ride or the kind of bike you owned.
He may not have known how many friendships he created just by being a good friend and connecting the TURTLE world to others. His approach of LIVING OUT LOUD infused energy and light into every situation, and his unfailing belief in each one of us often exceeded our own. That is his magic and his legacy – that he inspired us, showed us what we were capable of in the face of our own doubts, and loved so many so much. This great friend lived life in The Big Ring.
In his own words as interviewed for a MITRE podcast “Thinking like a Turtle”
“I introduce myself as Turtle and I usually say that just because I’m slow and lethargic and that creates a laugh out of most folks as I run into the room with my hair on fire. But it’s a good icebreaker, right? It kind of takes everyone out of their kung fu stance and allows you to lighten an atmosphere and try to focus on the things that I like focusing on, which is bringing some optimism and positivity to the room.
“…I try to eliminate as much negativity as I can from almost anything and everything and provide new ways to tackle problems, because that’s fun. That’s getting outside your comfort zone into that magic area.”
TURTLE resided in Germany for a decade before returning to the US in 2016. His good friend “HAMMER” created this compilation video with the caption You never had to look for Turtle, you just had to wait for his laugh to find him: