After further testing... viewing the console window on the BES, it's actually the address book sync that is failing and crashing the server. Beyond that I haven't checked if any services in particular are failing because the whole server fails.
I was able to get the hand held activated by setting address book sync to false. However, when the activation completes, and I turn the address sync back up, it fails again.
Our Notes admin had a similar problem with his own 8100 and believes if we remove the roaming capability from this user's setup, we will have better luck.