John “Wah” Oleski, Harley-Davidson enthusiast and a senior mail clerk at Binghamton University, died on Dec. 17 at UHS Wilson Medical Center after a yearlong battle with cancer.
Born Feb. 1, 1963 in Binghamton, N.Y., Oleski was diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was 50 years old.
He is survived by his wife, Debbi Oleski; his brother, Ralph Oleski; two sisters-in-law; his mother-in-law; four brothers-in-law and other relatives.
Nicknamed “Wah” by his friends, Oleski earned the title for complaining about a job interview. The nickname was a joke at his complaints, according to Debbi.
A member of the National Harley Owners Group (HOG) since 1986, Oleski acted as the assistant director of the Binghamton chapter.
Donald Rauschmeier, director of Binghamton HOG, met Oleski in 2004 through the group. According to Rauschmeier, he could never pick a single favorite memory with Oleski.
“If I told you one of my favorites, you wouldn’t be able to print it,” Rauschmeier said.
Rauschmeier said that Oleski’s most notable trait was his passion, whether it was for motorcycles, monster trucks, NASCAR, baseball or charity.
“Passion is what sticks out; it was how he lived his life and part of his personality,” Rauschmeier said.
Debbi described John as a loving person who cared deeply about his friends and hobbies.
“John was the happiest person I’ve ever met,” Debbi said. “He just loved to have fun, enjoy life, enjoy his friends.”
Oleski spearheaded HOG’s Christmas for Kids charity rides. The ride goes through Binghamton to Tioga Downs and raises money for Broome County Toys for Tots. According to Rauschmeier, Binghamton HOG plans to rename the charity ride in memory of Oleski.
He also participated in various HOG rides to Sturgis, S.D., Daytona Beach, F.L. and the Outer Banks, N.C.
“[He] just had a passion for motorcycles, riding and being with the Harley Owners Group,” Debbi said.
Oleski also taught a course on motorcycle safety at the Southern Tier Harley-Davidson dealer, according to Rauschmeier.
“It was just part of his lifestyle,” Rauschmeier said.
Oleski worked as a mail clerk from 1992 to 1997, leaving the the University before returning in 2007 as a senior mail clerk.
Debbi encourages everyone who knew him to make a donation in his name to any of the local charities.