In his 33 years, Wayne achieved a philosophy in life that was the envy of everyone who knew him. He had a unique skill for anticipating the needs of others and ensuring those needs were met without exception. His generosity knew no bounds, his caring for others, no limits.
Wayne’s perspective on life was truly unique. He was one of those rare people who truly believed it is better to give than it is to receive; he lived his life as a testament to this belief. As a husband, a son, an uncle, a brother, a godfather and a friend, he was always willing to contribute, whatever the cause. He was as giving with his time as he was with his resources. Wayne believed wholeheartedly in the goodness of people.
As a child and teenager, Wayne’s purpose in life, to the delight of his countless friends, consisted of discovering new ways to test his mother Janice’s patience. Never mean-spirited or unkind, Wayne had a penchant for mischief that was as intuitive to him as it was fearless. With gentle persuasion and unerring patience, and undeterred by the challenge of Wayne, Janice helped shaped him into the generous, dependable, loving and kind man he became.
Never shy of taking risks, Wayne followed his childhood dreams, traveling across the United States, living for a time in Boulder, CO and San Diego, CA. Wayne’s greatest adventure came only upon his return to Connecticut, when he met his beautiful bride, Kate Stein.
Wayne and Kate kept the existence of their marriage secret, planning and saving for a fantastic wedding gala that would bear Wayne’s imprimatur – another demonstration of the mischievous spirit that was such a defining characteristic for him. The tragic accident that cut short his beautiful life regrettably cut short that plan. He was a beautiful man, and was always guided by his desire to make sure that the lives of his loved ones were lived to the fullest.
Wayne Lecardo: ‘An Amazing Spirit’
By Ann Baldelli , Day Staff Writer
Published on 2/2/2007
WAYNE LECARDO WAS A fierce competitor who loved a good bet.
Family and friends say Lecardo, who died early Sunday morning in a car crash just two days before his 34th birthday, liked making a bet almost as much as winning one.
Like the wager he made while playing a board game with his wife, Kate Stein, and sister and brother-in-law, Kim and Ken Carlson, at the Carlsons’ Stonington home last November.
“The loser had to do a one-minute skit at Thanksgiving, and had to do it as the grace,” said Ken Carlson, reading from the challenge card that Lecardo wrote out, which still hangs on the Carlsons’ refrigerator. “They had to act it out, do it with a Thanksgiving theme, and conclude by saying, ‘Amen.’ ”
“We lost, and we did it,” said Kim Carlson.
Between tears and laughter Wednesday, Lecardo’s family told stories of the tall, well-built man who made everyone laugh and was always the life of a party.
“It was almost like Wayne was the only person who knew Santa Claus’ secret — give, give, give,” said Bob Carlson, Ken Carlson’s brother. “It was baffling how he could do as much as he did for people. It did not seem like there were enough hours in the day to do all the things he did for people.”
His wife and sister said Lecardo was happy-go-lucky, sometimes silly, with a Cheshire-cat grin and a spirit unlike any other.
“Certain people are fitted to their occupation,” said Ken Ricker, Lecardo’s stepfather. “But Wayne’s thing in life was pleasing other people, making other people happy, and he put it together with a job, and he became very good at it.”
Kate Stein met Lecardo in 1999, when they both worked at the Flood Tide restaurant in Mystic. He was the hotel and restaurant manager there, and she worked in the kitchen.
“I made him take me. I just knew he was the one,” she said.
The two secretly married in November 2003, never telling anyone. On Sunday, after she learned of her husband’s death, Stein told the rest of the family.
She said they married because she had decided to leave her job, and the couple wanted to make sure she was insured.
“We were going to do it one day anyway, so we figured why not now,” she said.
They planned to someday have a big celebration to announce their marriage, but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
As she spoke about Lecardo on Wednesday, Stein told her parents, sister and his family that they exchanged vows before a justice of the peace on the beach at Stonington Point on Nov. 23, 2003.
“It was just us,” she said.
He’d proposed while the two were on vacation, kayaking in Hawaii, after he coaxed her to paddle behind a waterfall. She was so surprised that she answered, “No way,” meaning, “No way you’re asking me,” leaving him momentarily thinking she’d turned him down.
Recently, Lecardo’s mother, Janice Ricker of Stratford, said she was visiting her son and they took a drive through Noank.
“It was just the most wonderful day we spent together,” she said. “He told me he was going to start a family soon.”
Everyone agreed Lecardo would have made a terrific father. At family gatherings, relatives said “all the nieces and nephews loved Uncle Wayne, and he would always sit at the kids’ table and cause the most mischief.”
He was also the one to buy “the loudest, most obnoxious toys” for everyone else’s children.
Wayne and Kate and Kim and Ken Carlson spent a lot of time together. One of their pastimes included creating a board game they call “Do or Die,” which they have trademarked and patented, and hope to someday manufacture. It involves rolling dice and making dares, or challenges. Lecardo, of course, always came up with doozies, his sister said.
Once, he made a guest take off her socks and shoes, go outdoors, look up at the sky and dance while singing, “Wayne is great.” From the porch, he directed her to move around the yard, right into dog poop.
Lecardo’s spirit and his love of the outdoors were infectious, his family said. He enjoyed kayaking, skiing, bicycling, and camping, and would do everything in excess, pushing everyone harder or further. Recently, Stein said he’d been talking about competing in an Ironman triathlon.
But as much as he loved the outdoors, he loved gourmet food, fine wine, and a good party, too.
“He loved food. He loved preparing it, he loved eating it,” Kim Carlson said.
“For Wayne, a gathering couldn’t be a gathering without food,” Ken Carlson said.
In many ways, he was like his father, John Lecardo, and when the two got together, relatives said they would stage eating contests.
Last Saturday afternoon, before Stein dropped off her husband at his job as a butler at Foxwoods, they stopped to visit Kim and Ken Carlson.
“Wayne just had an amazing spirit about him that day,” Kim Carlson said. “He turned as he left, and he blew me the biggest kiss.”
“He was handsome that day, and I told him so,” Ken Carlson said. “I think it was the tux.”
Ken Carlson said Lecardo was the best friend he’s ever had.
“He’s the definition of what a best friend should be, but I see now, I’m in a club,” he said. “A lot of people thought he was their best friend, too.”
“Wayne was our world,” Kim Carlson said. “He was strong and brave and fun, and he kept us all together. He made life interesting.”
“I wouldn’t be the person I was if he wasn’t in my life,” said Stein. “He was the most important person to me.”
The family hopes to use Lecardo’s spirit to help them get through their grief.
“It’s fate that put those two cars and those four people at that point at that time,” Ken Ricker said. “You can ‘what if’ all you want, it’s not going to change things.
“Wayne would not want a tear. He lived his life to the fullest and would want us to celebrate his life, not his death. If there is fault or blame, I’m sure Wayne has already forgiven them.”