Colin Stefan Ptak | News, Sports, Jobs
Colin Stefan Ptak, beloved parent, husband, son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend died suddenly on Saturday June 25, 2022 at the age of 39 in Morioka, Japan. He is survived by his wife Tsukasa, his cherished children Christopher Marcel, 5, and Ryan Elliott, 2, of Sendai, Japan, his father Richard Ptak and mother Diana Klein Ptak of Amherst, NH, his sister Jennifer Turner and his brother-law Karl Turner and niece Meghan Rebecca Turner of Norman, Oklahoma, brother Justin Ptak of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, brother Todd Ptak and sister-in-law Muriel Ptak of Toulouse, France, and extended family, Stacy Beaule and her son Kyle Boucher and her husband Roland Beaule, Jr. of Milford, NH, and her many aunts, uncles, cousins and close family friends from around the world.
He is predeceased by his paternal grandparents Louis and Helen Ptak of Western Springs, Illinois, his maternal grandparents Albert and Dorothy Klein of San Bernardino, California and his niece Elsinore Ptak of Toulouse, France.
Colin was born in Nashua, NH on June 30, 1982, shortly after his family moved from the Chicago area. At the age of 2, the family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he attended the International School of Geneva for three years. When he learns to ski in the Alps, he refuses to master the “turn”, preferring to hurtle straight down the mountain to the terror and delight of all who watch him from below. From there the family moved to Grasse, France, where Colin attended the American International School in Nice on the French Riviera for four years. Colin was an independent thinker. Once in French class, with a substitute teacher who was American, he announced that he did not need to answer questions in French with her as she knew English, illustrating his bold and tenacious spirit. He moved back to the family home in Amherst, NH when he was 10 years old. While attending Souhegan High School, he became fascinated with Japanese culture and art, especially the films of Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu. This led to making ninja movies with friends and becoming a big fan of eating sushi, a surprise to anyone who remembers the boy who for so long only ate hot dogs, “Tacos” (but with ground beef only) and McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. His favorite Japanese dish became unaju (grilled eel), a delicacy he introduced to his family.
Colin was the youngest of four children, but that just meant he was growing up faster, watching his older siblings. He went through Cub Scouts before he was old enough to join as he accompanied his mother when she led the program overseas. Eventually, he got bored and quit, because he wanted to do the things his scout brothers and scout master father did. He was more tech-savvy than most, building his first computer from scratch rather than buying a new one. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2004, with a double major in English and economics. While at Durham he stayed in the international dormitory, Smith Hall, where he felt right at home, making new friends with students from all over the world.
After college, Colin fulfilled his dream of living and working in Japan, teaching English at a business school in Tokyo while living in Yokohama. After two years in Japan, he moved to Australia’s Gold Coast before returning to the United States. After working for Fidelity Investments in Merrimack, New Hampshire and some trips to the United States, he returned to Japan, this time hired by the Japanese school system to teach English at two middle schools in Hanamaki. He was there during the 2011 tsunami and described his experience in an article published by the firm Milford. He met his wife shortly thereafter. They first lived in Morioka and just before the Covid-19 pandemic, they moved to Sendai. He was great with his students and brought a fun element to learning English. It was not uncommon to see him walking the halls of the school, applauding his students, urging them to speak English even when they weren’t in class.
Colin never outgrew his love of toys. With two sons, he revels in their new acquisitions and everything he enjoyed as a child. Video games – be it Sega, Nintendo, PlayStation or any of them were all part of his downtime – ultimately sharing that joy with Christopher. We all remember his antics years ago with a Wii game called “Amigo’s Samba” and laughing at his over-the-top dance moves while playing the game.
He loved classical literature and poetry. One of his favorite authors was Marcel Proust. He loved music, being a big fan of indie rock like his brothers and their mutual favorite musicians such as Elliott Smith and the Lucksmiths. He developed a love for karaoke; his ‘go to’ song was the B-52’s “Love Shack”that his brothers and sisters would like to be able to sing as well as him!
He also liked art books, especially cartoons. This love of visual effects led him to pursue art itself. First of all, he excelled in photography – taking macro photos of flowers and insects, even winning competitions. Then he found beauty in the photographs he took around Japan and later turned to painting and learned to use charcoal and watercolors to capture these images, which he often turned into postcards and sent to family members. Many times we have been impressed by his finished works. Lately, he had taken up the demanding art of painting miniature miniatures from the Warhammer Fantasy series.
Colin has always had his own sense of fashion. At an early age, Colin wore only comfortable sweatpants or skater shorts – no jeans or pants of any kind – usually accompanied by his brothers’ larger t-shirts. Yet surprisingly, as he got older, he developed his own sophisticated and dapper style – a dress shirt, a shiny tie, a jumper or sweater vest and khaki pants.
He maintained his interest in American politics and always made sure to fill out his mail-in ballot for elections. He attended the week-long summer seminar at the University of the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama at an early age and was very attached to the ideas revealed by the Austrian School of Economics, like his brothers.
Colin was the best of us all, kind, gentle and compassionate. He had a “joy of living” it was contagious. He loved to have fun, even making a game (and sometimes a joke – at least with his brothers) of giving Christmas presents to his family. In all the photos taken of him over the years, one would be hard-pressed to find even one where he wasn’t smiling, unless he was pulling a silly face. His passing leaves a void that cannot be filled in many lifetimes. We’ll all remember the Colin we knew and loved, some of us by his nicknames that stuck into adulthood: Collie Doodle, Holmes, Gunga Din, Goo-Goo, Goobidahead and Spacha Monkey. Ugga Mugga, Colin.
Services will take place at a later date to be announced. Arrangements are entrusted to Smith & Heald Funeral Home, 63 Elm Street, Milford, NH. To share a memory or offer your condolences, visit www.smith-heald.com.