Tuesday, November 24, 2015

RIP Brother Neil Rentuma

I lost a good friend recently: Neil Rentuma. He was a good friend and also one of the black belts and instructors in a Taekwondo school that some of my senior students and I started called Lou Waugaman Martial Arts. Loosing Neil has hit us all very hard.
I was thinking about a quote I read once that goes like this:
People won't remember what you said,
People won't remember what you did,
But people will always remember how you made them feel.
I can't remember a time when Neil wasn't smiling; oh wait, there was that time in Wisconsin when, as a green belt competing in the brown belt division he was disqualified for using too much contact.
Or the time that we caught 3 guys breaking into his house and he single-handedly put all 3 of them up against the wall and had them begging for their lives. I stood by observing how much self-control he demonstrated in not tearing their heads off.
We all remember Neil as a guy with more than his fair share of demons but also a guy who would give you the shirt off his back without a second thought. He was a loyal student, but moreover he was a loyal friend, and devoted father.
I have so many memories of Neil both in and outside of the school. He was very talented, not only as a martial artist, but as a musician and even as a bodybuilder where he was a state champion - from one of the Northeastern states where they can't pronounce "water" (he pronounced it "worter"). Professionally he was a respected and gifted technologist who could fix a computer or troubleshoot an entire complex network with equal ease.
Neil came up through the Taekwondo ranks at same time as my youngest daughter Andi. In fact, I think they both became black belts at the same testing. Andi would have been around 10 years old and Neil around 30. Being the same rank, over the years they often times performed together at demonstrations; even sparred against each other. Neil was always careful to push her limits but never harm her. I wonder if Andi would have been the martial artist she became without her favorite TKD companion Neil. Certainly would not have enjoyed the experience as much. 
In fact, many of my favorite martial arts memories were when Neil Rentuma was in the room.
I pray for his family and close friends that they can heal from his loss and hold the memory of what a great father, husband and friend they were blessed with in Neil.

I'll meet you on the other side my brother.
Some of his friends have established a GoFundMe page to help offset funeral expenses. Here is a link: https://www.gofundme.com/neilrentuma
This is one of my favorite pictures of Neil with his oldest daughter Gabby. As a yellow belt (beginner) she won the National Championships in her rank/age group. Proud papa is displaying some hardware too!


  1. Thank you so much for posting! It's very touching to hear that he was consistent all these years.

  2. Mr. Waugaman,
    This was amazing to read. Thank you so much for sharing this! I hope all is well.

  3. I had the pleasure to work with Neil. I must say, the story written above, resonates too what Neil did at Wellmark. I'll miss his bright smile and his energy. Love you Neil.