In memory of Ike Gatanio
I lost a dear friend, Ike Gatanio, on January 12, and am using my blog to memorialize an extraordinary man. Ike was 83 years old. He died in Boca Raton, Fla. after a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer. His death leaves a void in the lives of scores of friends and relatives who knew him as a man of great intelligence, kindness and tolerance and as one who had an uncommon concern for the welfare of others.
Like me, Ike was a seasonal resident of Florida. Both of us maintained primary residences in an adult community in New Jersey. I first met him on the tennis court there some 20 years ago. Over the years, we continued to share an enthusiasm for tennis until geriatric afflictions ended our "athletic" careers.
I will miss Ike dearly. With whom can I now reminisce about World War II military experiences in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, where we both served? Ike's service was more perilous than mine. He was a radio operator on cargo aircraft that flew "the Hump" from India to China.
We also shared political views (the mean-spirited would probably call us "bleeding-heart liberals") and boyhood backgrounds in the Bronx. Ike was a Sephardic Jew whose immigrant parents came to the U.S. from Salonica, Greece. Before his retirement Ike was in the produce (fruit and vegetables) business. Although he lacked formal technical training, he became the computer guru in his retirement years for me and countless other senior citizens struggling to master a new technology.
My heart goes out to his lovely wife Dottie and to his two sons, daughter, and grandchildren.
Magnificent men like Ike Gatanio are a rare species. I was proud and fortunate to have him as a friend.