Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Saying Good-Bye

The most telling memory of my father-in-law isn’t even my own; it preceded our introduction by over six years. It was September 11, 2001, and at the age of 81, covered in soot and ash, he walked over eight miles from the World Trade Center to his doctor’s office on the Upper East Side. When his sons, who had frantically been trying to get a hold of him all day, asked what he’d been thinking, after they finally tracked him down, he said, simply: “I didn’t want to be late for my appointment.”

My own favorite memories of him are less dramatic, but no less indicative of his priorities and character. I met him for the first time for dinner at the Arte Café on the Upper West Side, a few blocks from his apartment, where Drew and his brother grew up. I was struck by his thick New York accent and surprised by his wry sense of humor. I’d heard how stoic and analytical he was, but when I commented later about how charming I found him, Drew said, “Oh, yeah, he can definitely turn it on when he wants.”

At 89, he was the most dapper man at Drew’s and my wedding. And at 91 and 95, respectively, he, along with Drew’s brother, traveled to the maternity ward and were the first people, besides hospital staff, to meet our babies. He was happiest in the company of his family, and I know watching his sons have families of their own was among his biggest joys.

A lifelong Manhattanite, a proud graduate of NYU, and a CPA who loved his job, he rode the subway to his office and back every day until his 90s, and he continued working, in his own home, until his final days, paperwork, a pen, and a calculator always at hand.

My father-in-law, Herbert S. Condell, passed away in the wee hours of the morning today. His two sons were by his side. In his final week, which he spent at home with his family listening to his favorite music, he was able to enjoy a last get-together with his sons, their wives, and all four of his grandchildren, including 3-month-old Joanie — the first and last time all of nine of us would be together.

At one point, while the three older kids were playing loudly in another room and Joanie was cooing and the adults were talking, Drew leaned over and asked his father if it was too much commotion for him. “No,” he said, a smile on his face, “I love it.”

Herb will be laid to rest tomorrow next to his beloved late wife, Joan. He was the toughest (but least assuming) man I’ve ever known, and he will be greatly missed.

83 comments… add one
  • avatar

    keyblade October 26, 2015, 1:04 pm

    What a beautiful tribute. I have tears reading about this strong, loving character and the role he played in your lives. I’m sorry for your and your family’s loss at this time.

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  • avatar

    MissDre October 26, 2015, 1:06 pm

    This was beautiful Wendy. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki October 26, 2015, 1:07 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss Wendy. Reading this made me tear up at my desk. I’m so glad that you got to spend time with him and I’m happy that he was surrounded by everyone he loves (especially the noisy kids) as he makes his transition from this world to whatever comes next.

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  • avatar

    Lammie October 26, 2015, 1:13 pm

    Such a beautiful tribute. May your father-in-law rest in peace.

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  • TheLadyE

    TheLadyE October 26, 2015, 1:15 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, Wendy. This was a beautiful tribute to him. You, Drew, and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  • BlueKate

    BlueKate October 26, 2015, 1:15 pm

    This is such a beautiful tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss – yours personally, Drew’s, and the whole family’s.

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  • avatar

    Sabrisa October 26, 2015, 1:16 pm

    :,( beautifully written, enjoyed this.
    Condolences to you and family

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  • Bubbles

    Bubbles October 26, 2015, 1:17 pm

    Condolences to you and your family on the passing of your father-in-law. What a beautiful tribute to him and brought tears to my eyes. I hope it brings comfort to all of you that he was with his loving family when he took his final breath and knowing that he is now with his forever love.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones October 26, 2015, 1:18 pm

    A life well lived. Blessings to all of you as you mourn your loss.

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  • Regina Chapman

    Regina Chapman October 26, 2015, 1:18 pm

    My condolences to you and your family.

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  • avatar

    ktfran October 26, 2015, 1:19 pm

    I shouldn’t have read this, because, tears. That was lovely. I’m so happy his family was with him and I hope you all find comfort knowing he’s at peace and with his wife. I’m truly sorry for your loss.

    The first thing that popped out to me before I clicked to read the full tribute, was your father-in-law’s name. That was my Grandpa’s name as well. Good people are named Herb in my opinion.

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  • avatar

    Sara October 26, 2015, 1:22 pm

    That’s just lovely. Hugs to you and your family.

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  • avatar

    Kate October 26, 2015, 1:24 pm

    I’m sorry for your family’s loss, Wendy. It’s great that he had such a long life and was able to meet his grandchildren and was an all around good guy.

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  • avatar

    Essie October 26, 2015, 1:30 pm

    What a lovely tribute, Wendy. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. He’ll live on in Drew, and in your children.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna October 26, 2015, 1:35 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Beautiful tribute, my eyes welled up reading this.

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  • avatar

    Arra October 26, 2015, 1:36 pm

    I’ve been a fan of this website for as long as it’s been around. I visit multiple times a day and as a “lurker”, I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. But today, I would be remiss if I did not offer you, and your family, my deepest condolences. I am truly sorry for your loss. Peace and Love.

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  • kare

    kare October 26, 2015, 1:46 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  • avatar

    Jane63 October 26, 2015, 1:49 pm

    Beautiful tribute! Losing a parent is so hard. I wish strength and peace for you all.

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  • avatar

    RedRoverRedRover October 26, 2015, 1:51 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss, lovely tribute.

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  • avatar

    K October 26, 2015, 1:51 pm

    So sorry for your loss, Wendy, Drew, and the rest of your family. What a lovely tribute.

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  • veracityb

    veracityb October 26, 2015, 1:58 pm

    What a beautifully moving tribute.

    To be so loved is a sign of a life well lived.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal October 26, 2015, 2:07 pm

    My condolences to you and your family, Wendy.

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ October 26, 2015, 2:11 pm

    Wendy, that was an amazing tribute. I am so sorry for your family’s loss.

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  • avatar

    Firestar October 26, 2015, 2:13 pm

    Sorry for the loss of your beloved family member. How wonderful though, that he got to know both your children.

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  • Stonegypsy

    Stonegypsy October 26, 2015, 2:31 pm

    It suddenly got very dusty in my office. I’m so sorry for your loss, Wendy. But how fantastic that he was such a strong and wonderful presence in so many peoples’ lives, and that he got to spend his last days with his family.

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  • avatar

    Vathena October 26, 2015, 2:33 pm

    I, too, had tears in my eyes while reading this. (My father-in-law is another Herb!) So sorry for your loss. What a life; how amazing to be surrounded by so much love as it came to a peaceful end.

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 October 26, 2015, 2:35 pm

    Thank you so much for allowing us to “know” him. Many good thoughts, prayers and internet hugs are being sent to the entire Condleberry family.

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  • avatar

    eelliinnss October 26, 2015, 2:35 pm

    Thinking of you, Wendy.

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  • Lianne

    Lianne October 26, 2015, 2:45 pm

    Oh, Wendy, I am so sorry for the loss of your father-in-law. It sounds like he was a wonderful man, father, grandfather, etc. I hope that his passing brings a sense of peace to all of you, even in the midst of such sadness. You’re all in my thoughts. xo

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  • avatar

    KMJ October 26, 2015, 2:52 pm

    Beautiful tribute. I am sorry for your family’s loss.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 October 26, 2015, 2:55 pm

    So sorry for your loss Wendy and Drew, he seems like he was an amazing accomplished man who loved his family.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo October 26, 2015, 2:56 pm

    My sympathies and thoughts are with your family, Wendy.

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  • the_optimist

    the_optimist October 26, 2015, 3:06 pm

    Crying at my desk. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  • Boobs Magee

    Boobs Magee October 26, 2015, 3:11 pm

    Such an amazing tribute for someone whom, I’m sure, was an amazing man. I wish for you and your family much peace, and the joy of many happy memories.

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  • Moneypenny

    Moneypenny October 26, 2015, 3:14 pm

    Oh I’m so so sorry.
    What a wonderful tribute- I’m tearing up at my desk! He sounds like he was a very special man who led quite a life. Thank you for sharing him with us.

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  • Cleopatra_30

    Cleopatra_30 October 26, 2015, 3:21 pm

    So sorry for the loss 🙁 I am glad your son got a chance to enjoy some time with him before he passed. He may not remember it all when he is older, but at least for now he has those memories.

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  • avatar

    Anonymousse October 26, 2015, 3:26 pm

    What a beautiful tribute, Wendy. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  • avatar

    Taylor October 26, 2015, 3:27 pm

    Love to you and yours Wendy.

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  • gigi

    gigi October 26, 2015, 3:33 pm

    He sounds like a very lovely person, my thoughts are with your family in this difficult time Wendy.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie October 26, 2015, 3:33 pm

    He sounds like a real mensch*. My condolences to you and the family.

    * Yiddish for really good guy. Someone you look up to and who is very generous of spirit.

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  • avatar

    Sms841 October 26, 2015, 3:41 pm

    Add me to the list of people tearing up as I read this. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

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  • mandalee

    mandalee October 26, 2015, 3:57 pm

    What a wonderful tribute. He sounds like a truly wonderful man. So very sorry for your loss.

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  • avatar

    jottino October 26, 2015, 4:46 pm

    What a sweet and loving tribute! Condolences to your family, Wendy.

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  • avatar

    Elizabeth October 26, 2015, 4:53 pm

    May his memory be a blessing.

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  • avatar

    girltuesday October 26, 2015, 5:08 pm

    May he rest peacefully. Well wishes to you and your family.

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  • MaterialsGirl

    MaterialsGirl October 26, 2015, 5:45 pm

    “Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.”-George Eliot

    I’m so sorry Wendy, drew, Jackson and Joanie

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  • avatar

    Jea Whitney October 26, 2015, 6:01 pm

    1) No doubt that is Drew’s father, looking at the photo
    2) So touching you named your daughter after your mother in law– who apparently died far too young
    3) thx for sharing.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh October 26, 2015, 6:07 pm

    How lucky he was to live such a full life and to part surrounded by the people he loved most. I will be praying for you and your family.

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  • avatar

    Jenny October 26, 2015, 6:21 pm

    Beautiful tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss. Drew so strongly resembles his father! Thank you for sharing this with us. Sending love and prayers to your family.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark October 26, 2015, 6:38 pm

    Lovely thoughts here, Wendy. So sorry to hear that this all happened so fast — although, having much experience with Cancer, that may not be all bad actually. It sounds like he died as he lived. With class. My thoughts are with all of you and — especially, Drew.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray October 26, 2015, 6:51 pm

    Lovely tribute, Wendy. Despite not knowing you or your FIL, I teared up a little at your words. I’m sorry for your family’s loss.

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  • avatar

    rocketgirl October 26, 2015, 8:10 pm

    That was lovely and he sounds like an amazing man. Tears all around reading this – hugs being sent to you all.

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  • avatar

    theotherbarb October 26, 2015, 8:10 pm

    My sincere condolences to you and to Drew and his extended family. Beautiful words, Wendy. No one could ask for a better tribute from anyone. Bless you.

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  • avatar

    stickelet October 26, 2015, 8:30 pm

    Sorry for your loss Wendy, Drew, Jackson and Joanie. I also teared up reading this beautiful tribute. I hope someday someone can write such beautiful things about me. You really made him jump off the ‘paper’ with your description. Thinking of you guys.

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  • avatar

    Amanda October 26, 2015, 8:54 pm

    A truly beautiful tribute. My condolences to your family

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  • avatar

    Amy October 26, 2015, 9:20 pm

    What a lovely tribute. It has always sounded like he was a special man and your tribute really reiterates that. I love the music and love the picture, he was a very handsome man and looked a lot like Drew and I see resemblances in your pictures of Jackson. I am very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Lots of love from Colorado.

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  • avatar

    d2 October 26, 2015, 9:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing your memories. I’m sorry for the loss in your family.

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  • avatar

    Cinnamonwhisk October 26, 2015, 10:25 pm

    This is so beautiful. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. He sounds like a wonderful man.

    I’m crying here, reminded of my New Yorker grandparents and their accents. They really are a special kind of people and so irreplaceable. Now to go listen to Dean Martin and remember how my grandma said everything was “bee-yoo-tee-full”..

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  • avatar

    saneinca October 27, 2015, 3:09 am

    Very sorry for your loss. Your FIL sounds like a man worth knowing.

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  • avatar

    Hannanas October 27, 2015, 3:11 am

    He sounds like a beautiful person. And he left behind some beautiful people as well. Take care, Wendy, cherish those truly wonderful memories.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes October 27, 2015, 6:57 am

    You are a true wordsmith, Wendy. The fact that you are able to convey to so many how amazing he was in these words is astounding. So beautiful. Sincerest condolences to you and yours. You are all in my thoughts.

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  • avatar

    Rachel October 27, 2015, 9:13 am

    An absolutely beautiful tribute, Wendy. Sounds like he had a long, full life and was loved by many.

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  • bondbabe

    bondbabe October 27, 2015, 10:15 am

    Very nice tribute, Wendy. My condolences to you and your family.

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  • avatar

    Karen October 27, 2015, 10:17 am

    Wendy – I’m so sorry to hear about your FIL passing away. My thoughts are with you and your family.

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  • avatar

    laurahope October 27, 2015, 11:00 am

    He sounds like a remarkable man. So sorry for your loss.

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  • avatar

    PumpkinSpice October 27, 2015, 11:19 am

    I’m sorry for your and you husband’s loss. May he always be in your hearts. Your children will know him through stories, and they will feel the love you share for this wonderful man.

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  • avatar

    Galiush October 27, 2015, 11:31 am

    Am so sorry for your loss – it sounds like Herb was a wonderful man who will be sorely missed. Amazing how much Drew looks like him…
    My best wishes to all of you, especially Drew. May you know no more sorrow.

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  • avatar

    Samba October 27, 2015, 11:43 am

    I’m so sorry Wendy. I’m also crying–reminds me of my own family members who have passed, and how amazing that whole generation is, of which he sounds like a shining example. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts for healing and peace, and easier times ahead.

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  • avatar

    jilliebean October 27, 2015, 11:52 am

    Absolutely beautiful, Wendy. My condolences to the whole family.

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  • Mr. Cellophane

    Mr. Cellophane October 27, 2015, 12:09 pm

    A beautiful tribute.
    My deepest sympathy to your family.

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana October 27, 2015, 12:34 pm

    Such lovely sentiments. Condolences to you and your family.

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  • avatar

    Crazy_Pug_Lady October 27, 2015, 1:09 pm

    Beautiful writing, You can tell he was very loved and will be sorely missed. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

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  • Classic

    Classic October 27, 2015, 5:16 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. What beautiful writing to honor this man’s life.

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  • avatar

    Rangerchic October 27, 2015, 5:35 pm

    So sorry for your loss. Loved your story.

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  • avatar

    HmC October 27, 2015, 8:51 pm

    A beautiful tribute to a clearly wonderful person. The world is down one of the good ones. Glad he had a long and fulfilling life and was surrounded by loving family in the end. Condolences Wendy and family.

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  • avatar

    bondgirl October 28, 2015, 6:24 am

    Condolences to your family Wendy. Well thought, beautiful tribute to your father-in-law who you obviously loved dearly as your own father. It sounds like he didn’t suffer much, which I hope is a comfort to all of you.

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  • Today

    Today October 28, 2015, 10:10 am

    Lovely tribute. Thanks for sharing. All the best to you and your family during this difficult time.

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  • avatar

    MCJ2011 October 28, 2015, 2:06 pm

    Beautifully written Wendy. My condolences are with you and your family during this difficult time.

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  • avatar

    GabbyCat October 28, 2015, 7:09 pm

    So sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family.

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  • freckles

    freckles October 28, 2015, 7:15 pm

    So sorry for your loss Wendy. What a beautiful tribute to him; he sounds like an amazing man. Losing a parent is never easy, but I know Drew’s father must have been so happy to have his family around him in his last days. And what a long, wonderful life he seems to have led. I’m sending so many positive thoughts you and your family’s way. May the days get easier.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo October 30, 2015, 12:59 pm

    I realize this comment is totally driven by the business I am in, but then I do believe passionately in what I do. I was wondering if the family had any thought to set up a fund memorializing Mr. Condell at your local community foundation. The fund could direct income to a charitable cause that he or the family might have supported, or it could be left unrestricted so the foundation could use the income to address the issues of the day at its discretion. Apart from the fact that we should all be thinking how best we can support the communities in which we live and thrive, it can be a way to keep his name alive, to teach your children about charity, and to tell the story of the father/in-law you loved in a forum that will preserve and honour that story forever. Just a thought.

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  • avatar

    g October 30, 2015, 1:46 pm

    Sending good thoughts to you & your family.

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  • avatar

    megustalaplaya November 1, 2015, 8:35 pm

    Wendy, I am very sorry for the loss of your father-in-law. He sounds like a lovely man who will be missed very much.

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