This is a small tribute to a person I never met in real life. Who did solid work, and opened our eyes to the urban landscape. Who was taken from us much too soon, and whose family and bride I now mourn for. That person is Branden Klayko.

As I said, I never met Branden in real life … that is, in the flesh. I only knew him through his work, and through the emails we exchanged on occasion. I was struck by his work on Broken Sidewalk, and would sometimes link to it and point people to it. When he came back to Louisville after leaving for a while, I asked about cross-posting some of his pieces, and that’s when I found out he was fighting an illness. (Leukemia, I would later learn.) At that point, my only wish became that he would beat it.

I heard, later, that he got married, and there were some more Broken Sidewalk pieces to enjoy. And then, tonight, I learned that he has died. And it sucks.

It sucks because he was young, and just married, and had years and years of love and life in front of him. It sucks because he was both smart and observant, and could tell us all about what he saw. It sucks because he truly believed in building a great city, with great design, and he helped klutzes like me to actually SEE, to actually UNDERSTAND the value of urban design, and Lord knows we need people like Branden.

And it sucks, frankly, because as far as I could tell, Branden was a Good Guy. I never had a beer with him, never had lunch with him, never even really had a conversation with him … but if my sense of people means anything at all, Branden was one of those people that his family, and his friends, and the city, and perhaps even the world, will miss. And I, who never met him in real life, will miss him, and regret that we didn’t have at least one chance to have lunch, or just shake hands. Because Branden Klayko was a good guy.

Farewell, Branden. You will be mourned, and you will be missed.

–30–

If you wish to donate in Branden’s memory, there is a memorial page at YouCaring. The money will go to the Olmstead Parks.

Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. He has been President, Vice-President, and Treasurer of the Metro Democratic Club, and has served on the Democratic Party Executive Committee in Louisville. He began blogging in 2004, and currently operates two personal blogs (BruceMaples.com and brucewriter.com). He founded Forward Kentucky in the wake of the state elections in 2015, and expanded it in the summer of 2016.
He has lived in Louisville since 1992 with his wife and two sons.