Roy

Contributed By Tony Rosenzweig

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I’m Tony Rosenzweig, Roy’s first cousin and I’m here representing family and on behalf of family I’d like to thank all the colleagues and friends who came to share their thoughts and memories. It’s wonderful – though not surprising – to see how many were touched by Roy.

Although I grew up near Roy, I got to know him well first when I moved to Cambridge as an undergraduate and Roy was a graduate student at Harvard. He hosted me when I visited the campus, showed me around Cambridge and would somehow find time to get together regularly for lunch or just a chat on a nice day in Harvard yard. During these conversations, Roy -- with gentle but incisive questioning -- would help me understand and clarify my own thoughts. It has been particularly heart-warming to see that – 30 years later – when our daughter came to DC for college, Roy – now together with Deborah – reprised this role, making her feel welcome, making it clear she had a home away from home. Roy was generous with more than just his time. He gave my wife and me our first car, which was stolen several times from Cambridge. Whether because it was somehow blessed – or because it was a 1967 Dodge – it always came back.

My sister, who recently lost her own husband to a brain tumor and couldn’t be here today, sent this message:

“What a year this has been. A cruel year, unlike any other experienced or imagined in my worst nightmare. So true for all of us. Losses across a spectrum: my uncle, my husband, a cousin’s husband and my dear cousin Roy, honored here today. At times it seems unbelievable that all this has happened in a few short months.

I wish I had known Roy better, that our paths had crossed more often [but] I admired Roy from afar—proud of all he had done….[and] proud to count him as a relative.

When in the DC area I reached out to Roy & Deborah and they always welcomed us for a visit. Last year, on our last trip to the NIH, where my husband was in a clinical trial…, we shared a quiet dinner together at a Chinese restaurant in Bethesda. It was a blustery cold February night and the winds were especially cruel. Together we commiserated, sharing the trials and tribulations of living with serious illness and frustrations with modern medicine -- two cancer patients and two caregivers. Roy was as sharp as ever and aside from hair loss seemed to be doing well. Richard on the other hand was not.

I am sorry that I cannot be there physically today to share a warm hug and shed a tear. Please know that I am with you nonetheless because of what I carry in my heart--the feeling of kinship, of heritage, of friendship, of family.

Loss is loss, never welcome, never wanted but an inevitable part of life. For me I try to cherish what I have learned from the experience, the good that has come from the bottom of the abyss—the strength, the lessons learned, the people.”

[She ends by quoting her 16 year old son Ross’s eulogy for his father]:

“… it is different for everyone. Who could honestly say how exactly they feel, and then feel the same as the person next to them. It is different for everyone. And they can’t. It is different; nothing is the same and nothing is as simple. The loss of a Lover is not the same as the loss of a brother. The loss of a brother is not the same as the loss of an Uncle. The loss of an Uncle is not the same as the loss of a colleague. The loss of a colleague is not the same as a teacher. A teacher is not the same as a close friend. Nothing is Worse. Nothing is Easy. Nothing is as simple. Everything is different.”

Represented here today are people who had each of these relationships with Roy and though each is different, we all each of share a common sense of loss but also will carry with us a common legacy, the gift that – like that 1967 Dodge – will keep coming back since it comes from having known and been touched by Roy.

[Message from Roy's sister, Robin Schkrutz:]

Since it is Chanukah, this story that my father liked to tell comes to mind. It was one of my son David's early experiences at Sunday School. Our rabbi was trying to explain the miracle of Chanukah. He wanted to make sure that the class of 5 year olds all knew what a miracle was. He asked the class what do you think a miracle is? Five year old David raised his hand and answered a miracle is when people are nice to each other. My brother Roy was someone who practiced miracles every day of his life. He was always nice to other people.

The Roy that I knew was the Roy that everyone in this room knew. He wasn't different to different people. He was good and kind to everyone. Although his academic achievements and awards are amazing, he never made a big deal of them.

It was always you who was the important focus of any conversation. I cherish the time we spent as children spending endless hours playing games together. As we got older, the distance grew, but I am grateful that we kept a tradition of thanksgiving and Christmas vacation get-togethers. Roy's kindness was one of his most wonderful attributes.

When I read all the wonderful ways you treated others, it makes me even more proud than ever to have been your sister. And that is what I will remember you for.

I hope all of us will think of honoring Roy by showing kindness to others. Because that would be the way to spread what he gave to all of us.