This is the latest in a series of tributes to New Yorkers and tristate-area residents who passed away from the coronavirus. Here are the other tributes published by the New York Post.
One of the many things the coronavirus pandemic has taken from us is the chance to comfort the grieving. In time, we’ll be able to hug one another again. For now, all we can do is recall their lives through the eyes of those who’ve known them best: family, friends and colleagues. May their good works live after them, inspiring us all to be our best, most compassionate selves in their honor.
Darlene Gaydos, 73, Montclair, New Jersey
Larry Gaydos, a talk-show host in Phoenix, remembers his mother, who passed away April 25.
There are few words big enough to describe the small powerhouse that was my mother, Darlene Gaydos.
She was a woman who loved The Beatles, traveling, Hallmark movies and her red Corvette. She spent the first part of her life as a figure skater — traveling the world and meeting interesting people from every corner.
However, in college, she met the love of her life, my dad Larry, with whom she recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.
For a short time, she was a teacher, but that changed once she had her three children. As her oldest son, I had a front-row seat to her numerous hours of devotion to our family. She was completely selfless and the backbone of our family, consistently modeling humility, kindness and thoughtfulness.
My mother survived a heart attack and breast cancer; she bravely fought multiple myeloma and all its complications. My parents truly lived out their marriage vows — “for better or worse” and “in sickness and in health.”
When my mom got the diagnosis that she contracted the coronavirus, not once did she ever say, “Why me?” She simply prepared for battle.
She was the strongest person I know, and thankfully, she gifted us with that trait as well, knowing we would need it to bear her loss.
While we will miss her greatly, we are comforted by the fact that we feel her presence more than ever in heaven.
Miguel Marte, 30, Fairview, New Jersey
Miguel Marte may have lived in Yankee territory, but he was a Boston Red Sox fan.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Marte was drafted as a teenager and played first base — as well as catcher and right fielder — for various Oakland Athletics minor league teams between 2008 and 2012.
It was when his wife, Jasmin (who was his high school sweetheart), learned they were expecting twins that he decided to quit pro ball in order to be home more.
“Most players get released,” says Veronica Flores, whose husband, Reynaldo Mateo, was Marte’s teammate and best friend. “He was a good player, but he felt the need to leave baseball and start his own family.”
So after stints with Oakland affiliates in Arizona and Vermont, the Martes moved to The Bronx and then to New Jersey.
Marte got a warehouse job with a trucking company, but he continued to play in a Sunday league.
Although he was “outgoing” and “a jokester,” Flores says, Marte was level-headed, too.
“Being a baseball player can come with a lot of frustrations, but his attitude was always so chill. He was such a calm person. He wouldn’t get crazy to the point where he couldn’t enjoy the game,” Flores recalls. “He truly played it because he grew up with it and he loved it. It was part of who he was.”
Flores and Mateo, who live in Laveen, Ariz., visited the Martes in 2018. The foursome posed for photos in Times Square and ate a Dominican feast of pollo guisado (braised chicken) and habichuelas (stewed beans) in The Bronx.
The two couples kept in touch via text and FaceTime. Jasmin is the godmother to Sofia, Flores and Mateo’s 3-year-old daughter. Marte contracted the coronavirus and passed away April 28.
“Jasmin never left his side and kept that promise from her wedding day to be there for her husband every step of the way,” says Flores, who set up a GoFundMe to help financially support Jasmin and twins Miguel Angel and Isabella, now 6. “She loved him and gave up even her own safety, selflessly, to care for him.”
Marte mustered the strength to send Mateo a voice memo about a week before he died.
“He didn’t say he was doing badly,” Flores says. “He said, ‘You guys have to take care of yourselves and take this seriously. Do your best to stay safe.’ He was so selfless that that was the last message he sent to his closest friends.”
Joan Cohen, 77, Somerset, New Jersey
Erica Lyons remembers her mother, who died April 13.
My mother and I spoke nearly every single day. And although I relocated to Hong Kong 17 years ago, I never felt far away.
She was a lifelong learner who was valedictorian of her high school class in Asbury Park, NJ, and went on to earn a BA in history, a MA in constitutional history and — in her 40s — a degree in accounting and her CPA. She embraced new technology and social media (though, admittedly, with some hiccups!).
In recent years, she enrolled in adult education classes.
Everything she did was done with an intense passion.
She was outspoken and bold. While politics, drawing often on her knowledge of constitutional history, was always an interest, in recent years, she joined numerous protests to voice her opinion on causes that were important to her. In addition to political causes, she was deeply committed to Jewish causes and the global Jewish community.
She was extraordinarily active. She trail walked nearly every day with friends, traveled internationally and kept a packed social schedule. She never knew how to slow down and accepted no limitations.
What mattered most to her, though, were the people she cared about. Her expansive group of friends grew exponentially over the years. Her family was her raison d’être. She was entirely devoted to my father, her husband of 53 years (who survived her), to me and my brother, and to her seven grandchildren.
To see my family, she constantly shuttled back and forth between Philadelphia and Hong Kong; she was always there to help with my four kids, to witness milestones and to celebrate.
She was filled with love and light. It’s still present in all of us.
Joel Kupperman, 83, Sheepshead Bay
As a philosophy professor for 50 years, Joel Kupperman taught thousands of students at the University of Connecticut.
But Kupperman, who passed away April 8, was thrust into the national spotlight decades earlier. In 1942, when he was just 5 years old, he made his first appearance on “Quiz Kids,” a radio show that later aired on television. Clad in a cap and gown, Kupperman and other child prodigies answered trivia questions on topics from science to sports.
“I didn’t realize just how famous he was, what a big deal he was, for awhile. It was a family thing that we didn’t talk about,” says his son Michael Kupperman, a comic artist and writer in Crown Heights. “He had magic tricks done for him by Orson Welles; he met Marlene Dietrich. He was on radio with Bing Crosby and Chico Marx and all these famous people. He was a ball boy for Ty Cobb [during a 1945 exhibition game].”
He and the other “little geniuses” traveled to almost every state, appearing on about 400 shows and raising more than $1 million for the war effort.
“Children were suddenly fascinating on their own terms and not just imperfect adults,” Michael says. “These children were cute and funny and smart.”
But fame took a toll on Kupperman, adds Michael, who dug into the “Quiz Kids” era in a 2018 graphic memoir, “All the Answers.”
“The main thing I think the show gave him was a horror of being noticed. It gave him an impulse to be quiet and keep his head down,” Michael says. “He wasn’t intellectually flashy in his life. He didn’t even use math that much.”
At age 16, he left the “Quiz Kids” stage, where he was privately tutored while on the road, and later earned a doctorate at the University of Cambridge. (He chose a school in the UK, Michael believes, because no one there had heard of
When he wasn’t in the classroom, the “shy” and “reserved” academic enjoyed listening to classical music. In addition to Michael, he is survived by his daughter, Charlie, and his wife of 56 years, NYU historian Karen Ordahl.
“He had been badly hurt by being so famous and having such a weird childhood,” Michael says.
“He always did the work he needed to do and took care of the people around him. He was a moral person, a very consistent person.”
James Mahoney, 62, Freeport, Long Island
A pulmonary and critical-care doctor who worked in Brooklyn hospitals for 40 years, James Mahoney was beloved.
“He was like the mayor, walking the halls of our medical center,” says Dr. Robert Foronjy, Mahoney’s boss at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. “Everyone knew him. He treated everyone equally. He didn’t care for hierarchies or titles.”
Mahoney, who died on April 27, doted on his patients at the University Hospital of Brooklyn and Kings County Hospital Center. He even gave out his cellphone number.
“He was still working from home, telling patients to wash their hands, even as he was getting sicker,” says Natasha Edwards of SUNY Downstate.
The father of three also trained residents and other junior doctors, who adored him, dubbing him “our Jay-Z.”
“Even if it were 3 o’clock in the morning, he would spend an hour training someone else to do a procedure he could do in 10 minutes,” Foronjy says.
That kind of dedication was evident from childhood. “Any endeavor, he went all-out for it,” says his father, Oscar Mahoney. “He put his all into it — he didn’t hold back.”
Mahoney “was humble and spoke to you with respect,” says Olu Akindutire, 30, who worked with Mahoney as a resident from 2014 to 2018. “He really made you feel like your opinion mattered. He was a true superhero to young physicians of color.”
Those he mentored have started a scholarship fund to help African-American students attend SUNY Downstate med school.
After he had to be admitted to the hospital, visitors were banned. But doctors from across the institution stopped by the ICU to visit.
“I told him how much I loved him, and how much everyone loved him,” says Foronjy, who accompanied Mahoney, along with four other colleagues, when he had to be rushed from University Hospital to NYU via ambulance for special treatment. They were with him when he passed. “Unlike so many patients during the pandemic, he died with people who loved him at his bedside. It’s the only consolation we have.”
Suzannah Chandler, 81, Upper East Side
As head of Search and Care, a nonprofit pairing homebound elderly with services, Suzannah Chandler planned many funerals.
Trained in social work, she helped others come up with end-of-life plans, according to friend Molly Parkinson, who was, with Chandler, an active member of the Church of the Holy Trinity on East 88th Street.
“For the last 20 or so years, as a kind of philosophical comment, she’s been planning her own funeral,” says Gretchen Buchenholz, another congregant and friend. “But in the last five years, she was doing it earnestly, as if each service were her own. She chose the hymns. She critiqued every sermon — chose some readings and discarded others — and she laughed at herself for all this!”
“Having done all that, I think when the time came, she was ready,” Buchenholz says. Chandler passed away on May 4.
Chandler hunted down folks who needed assistance by asking area supers and shopkeepers about their older residents and customers, Parkinson says.
“She was a pioneering visionary in aging,” says Brian Kravitz, executive director of Search and Care, which Chandler helmed from 1972 to 2006. “All throughout Yorkville and Carnegie Hill, she made sure people aged in place gracefully, had a good quality of life and peace of mind.”
An avid and attentive gardener, Chandler took pride in hosting dear ones in the backyard oasis she cultivated outside her first-floor apartment, Parkinson recalls.
“There are so many people whose lives Sue touched — people she loved, and traveled with, and gossiped with (and about), and made music
with, and talked politics with and dined with,” says Buchenholz. “And so many people whose lives were made richer and even possible.”
Ali Schwartz, 29, Upper West Side
Alison Schwartz was a consummate “People” person.
The director of digital platforms at People magazine, Schwartz, who passed away April 28, was a force of positivity and humor, endlessly creative and beloved by her colleagues.
“She truly loved what she did for work, and I couldn’t be more proud of her for following and, frankly, achieving her dream,” her brother, Dr. Adam Schwartz, tells The Post.
“Ali was the best kind of person, not just for continuously making us smile, laugh and feel special, and not just because she’d help anyone and everyone (including every animal), but because she inspired us all to be better people to ourselves, to each other, and to the world, and to live our lives to the fullest,” Adam says.
Schwartz would’ve turned 30 this week, and although she wasn’t a fan of celebrating herself, adds Adam, “something I’ll always remember was how much she loved celebrating her family.”
“One of my favorite days together was for our dad’s 60th birthday, we — meaning mostly her — planned a whole surprise day including everything from fro-yo, mani-pedis, massage, our favorite lunch spot and a photo shoot,” Adam recalls. “She similarly threw a big surprise
party for our mother’s 60th.”
Schwartz remained selfless into her final days.
“Before Alison got sick, she sent a gift card to one of her friends, a nurse, to thank her for what she does, especially during these challenging
times,” he says. “Her friend, in turn, used the gift card to buy masks for her team. Alison’s warmth, generosity and love were contagious and made this world a better place.”
A native of Wellington, Fla., Schwartz attended the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. Adam, along with her parents, Robin and Richard Schwartz, have set up a scholarship bearing her name that is open for donations in her memory.
Ernest Schwarz, 88, Dongan Hills, Staten Island
Ernest Schwarz raised his family in a Cape Cod-style house on Staten Island.
But his story began in Berlin — the city he left as a teenager when he fled the destruction of World War II. As a kid, he saw Russians tanks roll down his street and nearly got shot at age 13.
“His mom told him, ‘You have to go to America,’ ” says Thomas Schwarz, one of his two sons. So at 17, Schwarz arrived in New York alone to live with an uncle in The Bronx, near Yankee Stadium.
“[He] didn’t ever see a baseball game, but he could hear the cheers,” Thomas says.
Schwarz struggled with English, so his uncle suggested that he join the Army to learn it. He was stationed in Alaska during the Korean War.
“He didn’t do any fighting, but he learned a lot of English,” Thomas says. “He sounded exactly like Henry Kissinger.”
In 1954, Schwarz became an American citizen. He met his wife, Sonja — who was also from Germany — at a bar in Midtown.
“They came thousands of miles to meet in New York City,” says Thomas. The two remained married for more than 60 years, eventually doting on three grandchildren.
Schwarz spent his final eight years caring for Sonja, who developed Alzheimer’s. On April 23, a week after Schwarz was diagnosed with COVID-19, Sonja died at age 91 of the brain disease.
Then, after his symptoms worsened and he was hospitalized, Schwarz too passed away, on May 15.
One of the last things Schwarz said to his son was, “I can’t believe it ends like this,” Thomas recalls.
On Wednesday, Thomas went over to his parents’ house and saw his father’s garden. Schwarz took particular pride in his roses. Even without him tending to them, a cluster of pink blooms has managed to flower.
“He would have been very proud,” says Thomas. “They learned to grow on their own, without him.”