When John Lakata was a kid, he used to watch his older brother Edward Lakata’s rock band perform at Pine Lake during the summer.
“My brother Eddie always loved that place,” recalled John Lakata, 46, of Johnstown.
On Aug. 17, Edward Lakata’s family, friends and fellow musicians will host a music festival at Pine Lake Park in his honor. The 55-year-old Johnstown resident was killed in late June when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle.
Called The Eddie, the music festival will raise money for the newly established Edward Lakata Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Pine Lake Park is located about 15 miles north of Johnstown and Gloversville in the Adirondack Park.
John Lakata remembered his older brother as a top-notch musician who “supported every single musician, whether good or bad,” worked as a highly capable service man at area music shops, such as Drome Sound, and could play just about every instrument.
Lakata was the lead guitarist with Skyler’s Dream Team, a rock band that specialized in covers and was a fixture at local bars and clubs. The band was supposed to perform at the Pine Lake fireworks show on July 3 but canceled as a result of Lakata’s death; his son Austin’s band, Saving Atlantis, filled in.
Ed Lakata was the second-oldest of eight children and is survived by his sons Austin and Karl as well as his wife, Cindy, whom he began dating in junior high. He is also survived by his parents, five brothers and two sisters.
“He was all about family and friends,” John Lakata said. “He constantly surrounded himself with family and friends. He knew everybody.”
In a eulogy, Ed Lakata’s younger brother Tim, of Southwick, Mass., recalled his sibling as a genius who was unusually humble and shunned the spotlight.
“Seven years older than me, he was my role model,” Tim wrote. “When I was a kid, everyone loved this guy; he had tons of friends, the life of the party and he didn’t drink and he didn’t smoke and he didn’t do drugs. How can you be the life of the party if you don’t party? Only he could. … Because of him, I didn’t drink and I didn’t smoke. I wanted to be just like him. I give him all the credit in the world for showing me a path that no one else was walking. I wanted to do what he did. I couldn’t have asked for a better role model.”
Edward Lakata was an alumnus of Johnstown High School as well as Fulton-Montgomery Community College and Union College in Schenectady. He worked as an engineer with Opto Generic Devices.
“A mathematical genius, an electronic genius, a computer wiz, an inventor, up to speed in world politics, fluent in French,” Tim Lakata wrote in his eulogy. “… and the list goes on and on. … And pretty much self-taught in everything he did. Who knows anyone like this? I don’t.”
The Eddie is open to the public and will feature an extensive lineup of local bands on two stages starting at noon. John Lakata said the hope is that The Eddie becomes an annual event.
“It will be very emotional for everyone,” John Lakata said. “We’re overwhelmed by the number of people who are so willing to help.”
Another event that will likely become a yearly activity is a bicycle ride in honor of Lakata. Shortly after his death, 45 people gathered to bike from the Wheelerville School in Caroga Lake to Canada Lake, a distance of about 14 miles.
“It was a totally enjoyable ride,” John Lakata said.
The Edward Lakata Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to outstanding students at Johnstown High School pursuing careers in math and science, John Lakata said.