Jump to content

Sad news -- Armand M. "Mickey" Mickune-Santos died


Recommended Posts

I suspect most of the current NSPN membership did not have the pleasure of knowing or working with Armand. So I want to post something, both in his honor and to illustrate what kind of a guy he was. Mark Jacobson reminded me that I wrote this on the NSPN board in September 2012...

As my roll was deteriorating in the last couple of years -- my good-side roll was ragged and I couldn't even get up on my not-so-good side with any certainty -- I decided to get a tune-up. I chose Armand Mikune-Santos because I had admired his coaching skill on a number of occasions. So I plunked down the money at CRCK where he was working and we paddled out of the dock and down the Charles. Well, for the first 15 minutes all we did was paddle slowly and chat -- about life, interests, activities, then a bit about kayaking, and then we got around to rolling, that is, chatting about rolling. By the time we got to a spot where he pulled over and said "how about here" I was so relaxed that I ran off three perfect rolls on both sides. Armand looked at me with a quizzical smile and asked what I needed him for! I said -- whoa, I do have a problem. So I kept going with the both the offside and onside rolls, and sure enough they started to deteriorate, and he gave me several good observations and pointers. Then we paddled back, and despite having paid for an hour of instruction and only gotten maybe 20 minutes of actual work, I was quite satisfied.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RIP, Mickey! How very sad...

My very first kayak had been his boat, which Joel Thomas was selling for him (P&H Sirius: I learned a lot in that boat) and, later, I took a class with him at Horse Neck Beach ("In the Surfzone" it was called and assisitng was our own Mr. Burnett) I think my first BCU (3*) class was with him, too, come to think of it (some pond around the Greater Boston area -- I wonder where it was?) Burnett -- the same -- also caused that class to happen and made me participate.

Santos and Burnett gave me so much in terms of my kayaking start-in-life...thank you, Mickey!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A kayaker, an instructor, a paddling buddy, a friend

A kid from New Bedford, just a regular kid that grew up in a tough town. He went on to school and played football and play football he did, for Fairhaven High School, Tabor Academy, and Boston University. His own accomplishments are many, his sharing of understanding was matchless.

I met him early one morning on the south shore at an ACA kayak training in the late 1990’s. His gear was hanging on his jeep drying in the early morning sun, he was laying back in the front seat catching some shuteye. I asked myself “what kind of trainer is this” I was soon to learn.

The training went on and at one point we picked topics out of a hat, I forget the topic I picked but one young woman picked out safety. As she spoke she began to cry uncontrollably and inconsolable she ran from the room. One young man said “what’s with her” and our instructor said you can never tell what your students have been through and not judge. He explained that she had lost a personal friend on a river in Nepal. His explanation was eloquent as it reached into my soul. I had found a man who was so sensitive but yet so real in his understanding. The friendship will be with me forever.

We went on for years training guides, certifying instructors, helping out clubs and paddling the waters off the Massachusetts and New Hampshire coast. I was a well-known kayaker, I had paddled some distances with the good kayakers from the area and thought I was all “that”, but at one time he asked me if I would like to take part in training an instructor, of course, I said yes. I arrived ready to train with all my gear. As I looked around at the beautiful YMCA in Mattapoisett, MA right on the bay but everyone there was either in a wheelchair or had a cane or a white cane. I asked: “Who are we training here?” He looked at me and smiled and with a hand gesture toward the crowd of folks in the wheelchairs and canes he said: “We are training you.” Well I found I wasn’t all that I thought I was but much less. The courage of these folks far exceeded the bluster I was. We shared the love of a feeling of the air, the movement of the water, the smiles on the faces. Two days later I drove away from the training my mind reeling at what had happened to me, I pulled over and looked at the ocean, waves crashing on the shore and was unable to drive as I searched for ‘that’ what I was and found that I wasn’t, but I changed that day and vowed to have the courage of the folks that trained me. I volunteered my assistance to Outdoor Explorations of Medford, MA and for the next five years.

A few weeks later I was asked by my instructor to come to Woods Hole to meet some paddlers from NESN. I thought to myself why anyone from NESN Sports would want to meet me. That day I met Bob Burnett and Jim Leonard, these two were ‘one of a kind’ paddlers. So began my relationship with a Yahoo paddling group. I was glad to find some absolutely wild paddlers and these two were the wildest among a few others, I fit right in. It wasn’t NESN, it was much better in fact it was NSPN and it was great. I sat on the board for five years.

Over the years my wife, my instructor and I developed therapeutic recreation kayak programs for the Veterans Administration for the disabled Vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.

I don’t know how many of you realize how many people you can touch in your life but if I had not met my wife, these people and my instructor, things would be much different for me.

I found ‘that’ which I was seeking because a friend found it for me. With one statement “It is not what you can do, it is what you bring to the sport.” He gave me much more to my life.

Thank You my friend,

Armand M. "Mickey" Mickune-Santos – ACA Instructor Trainer - a kid from New Bedford, MA - died January 3 2015

The friendship will be with me forever.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...