Professor’s dedication, life honored at memorial

Friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances of the late professor Gary Klatsky attended a sentimental, warm memorial service Thursday afternoon in Sheldon Ballroom at Oswego State.

The life of professor Klatsky was recognized by many close loved ones as they gave the crowd an insight into the wonderful man that Klatsky was.

The professor died April 3, 2009 at age 59 after battling glioblastoma (brain cancer) for 17 months, and family members remarked on his strong countenance, intelligence and compassion throughout the ordeal.

The memorial service for Klatsky focused on the most important aspects of his life, being a father and a husband. Klatsky’s son, Alex, 20, spoke about how his father rarely missed any of his sporting games, how his father cared so much for the passions in Alex’s life, and how much of a dedicated father Klatsky was.

"His biggest fear (about the cancer) was that it would change his mental capacity," said Klatsky, which it didn’t, even up until the last days.

Susan Klatsky, older sister to Klatsky, reminisced on the Gary she grew up with. "He was my pal, my best friend," she said. He once told her, Klatsky said, that being a father was the most natural thing in the world.

Other speakers at the memorial service were David Goldberg, Klatsky’s close friend from graduate school, colleague and friend Pam Brand, who organized the memorial service, and President Deborah Stanley, who all remarked on his amazing life. They also made special note of his diehard loyalty for Yankee baseball for the majority of his life.

Klatsky came to Oswego in 1995 as an assistant professor of psychology and continued to work at the university for over 13 years. "He was determined to be a teacher even throughout his illness," Stanley said, "His passion was working with students."

Many people were affected by this passion. Erin Halligan, a former student of Klatsky’s commented on how much of an impact he had on her as adviser, friend and mentor. Dr. Nola Heidlebaugh also said how much of a friend Klatsky was to her through her own hard times.

Throughout his life as a good friend, Klatsky devoted his life to being a good father and husband, as he considered himself "the luckiest man on the face of the planet," as Brand said during the service.

Klatsky’s wife, Rhonda Mandel, described the many characteristics Klatsky had that went along with what Brand said. "The thing that impressed me most about Gary… was his realness," she said. She remembered how he used to say, "Joy in life comes from everyday life you share," and how little moments to him were perfect moments in life.

The memorial service reflected the merit and overwhelming kindness of Klatsky throughout his service as teacher, professional, husband and father. Klatsky, before he passed, worked with his family and coworkers to design the Dr. Gary J. Klatsky Scholarship. This scholarship is intended to continue the work Klatsky did with students at Oswego State, remembering his compassion and loyalty to his work in life and at the university as an assistant professor of psychology and continued to work at the university for over 13 years. "He was determined to be a teacher even throughout his illness," Stanley said, "His passion was working with students."