Obituary: Stephen G. Esrati. AKA Dad.

  • Stephen G. Esrati post Baalbek prison, 1948
  • Nina B and Stephen G. Sometime around Aug 20, 1954 Wedding.
  • Stephen G. Esrati
    Publicity photo circa 1982-84 for book by Herb Ascherman
  • Nina and Steve, 20 Aug 2014, 60 years

There has always been a file on my fathers computer “death and taxes.”

In it, were very specific instructions on what to do after he passed, which he did, peacefully and painlessly at age 89 in the Dayton VA Hospice this morning.

This is the obituary he wanted me to share.

Stephen G. Esrati, 89, a retired copy editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer and a prolific philatelic journalist, was among the first American hostages in Lebanon.
He also worked on the Boston Herald-Traveler, the Celina (Ohio) Daily Standard, the Van Wert Times-Bulletin, and the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Born in Berlin in 1927, Esrati moved to Palestine in 1933 and to the United States in 1937.
He had two degrees in political science from Boston University.
He served in Italy in the 88th U.S. Infantry Division after World War II and was recalled to active duty during the Korean war. He also served in the Irgun Zvai Leumi, a Jewish underground army in Palestine. He was active in the U.S. Army Reserve through 1960, last as a sergeant first class in the 320th Special Forces Group in Boston.
His experience in Special Forces formed part of the background for his first novel, Comrades, Avenge Us.
Esrati and 60 other men were removed from a U.S. passenger ship, The Marine Carp, in Beirut on the day after Israel declared its independence.
His non-philatelic writings appeared in newspapers in three continents. He was honored by induction into the Philatelic Writers’ Hall of Fame of the American Philatelic Society.
He died peacefully of old age August 18, 2016 in the Dayton VA Medical Center Hospice. He is survived by his wife, Nina B, and his son David.

He donated his body to the Wright State School of Medicine. There will be no services.
If you want to honor him, read the free book he wrote to me in 1969- “Dear Son” and leave a comment, or pick up a free copy of his historical fiction “Comrades Avenge Us” at my office, 100 Bonner St. Dayton Oh 45410- with the promise of writing an Amazon review when you finish it.

Thank you.

Update: 19 Aug 2016 Someone said they were listening to my StoryCorps interview of Dad. Here’s the link: https://esrati.com/storycorps-interview-of-stephen-g-esrati/4813

Thanks to a man named Shirley

Photo of Shirley Gossett

From the left: Shirley R. Gosset, Staff Sgt. Joshua L. Brady, and retired Lt. Col. James L. Pritchett, all 82nd Airborne Division veterans, join to place a wreath honoring fallen paratroopers in front of the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial May 26. Photo by Pfc. Mike Pryor, USA

For the life of me, I don’t remember how I got invited, but at age 22, freshly out of the Army on Temporary Disabled Retirement Leave, I found myself in a basement in Vandalia with a bunch of superheroes.

Most of them, gray haired, and close to, or recently retired, they all shared a common bond- jumping out of a perfectly good airplane for Uncle Sam.

I have never met a bunch of strangers that I was so instantly embraced by. Within a meeting or two, I was “elected” their Sgt. at Arms. They were the 82nd Airborne Division Association, General Matthew B. Ridgway chapter. And although it was the 82nd- and I’d only served with 7th Group down the street- the bond was the ownership of a pair of jump wings.

The basement, belonged to a man who always had a smile on his face- and gleam in his eye, a man named Shirley Gossett.

His obituary appeared in today’s paper- with a perfunctory summation of his military and post military pride in being a paratrooper:

Shirley graduated from Parker Vocational High School in 1941 and was on the Reunion Committee for 40 years. He served in the U.S. Army 325 Glider Infantry of the 82nd Airborne Division in Holland, Belgium, and Germany as a Scout & Runner in WWII. Shirley earned many ribbons including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He retired as a sheet metal worker from Local #224 after 40 years. He formed their Retirement Club in 1985-6 and served as their President for four terms.

In 1970, Shirley formed the Dayton Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, which was later renamed after General Matthew B. Ridgway. He served on the Board of Directors of the 82nd Airborne Association as Secretary, Assistant Executive Director, Executive Director and was elected as National President in 1981 and 1986. In 1990, Shirley received their highest award, “All-American of the Year.” He was certainly the most active veteran in this association, holding raffles, selling VCR tapes and books will all profits going to their Educational Fund.

In 2000, 82nd Airborne Commander, MG Dan McNeil presented Shirley with the “Commander’s Award,” an award given to a civilian for his dedication to the Division.

via Shirley GOSSETT Obituary: View Shirley GOSSETT’s Obituary by Dayton Daily News.

He died November 13, 2014, in an odd twist in obituaries, it didn’t have his age or birthday. Doing some math- based on graduating from high school at 18- he was born in 1923, and was probably 91.

Tom Brokaw dubbed men like Shirley our greatest generation, and to have known him, you’d understand why.

Those meetings of men, from all walks of life, all social strata, that were held in Shirley’s basement, told a story of the resiliency that they brought to battle, on foreign soil, for a cause that was as clearly just as any in history.

I remember hearing stories from these fine gentlemen of having more combat jumps than training jumps (5). Of going off to war, with no guarantee of coming home after a “tour”- unless you were severely injured or in a casket. Some of them had served in the 101st at Bastogne in the “Battle of the Bulge” – facing incalculable odds and horrendous weather. Many had put behind the horrors of war, and come home to raise kids, have careers and live a life that was considered “normal”- without the respect and appreciation they deserved for their sacrifices by a country that seemed to turn its back on those who served.

All of them, were welcome in Shirley’s basement, its walls covered with memorabilia- a shrine to the “All American” division. All of them brothers from different mothers.

I drifted away from attending after my term was up. Taking on battles with the city over garage doors, running for office and later starting my own band of brothers- VOB 108, a group for Veteran Business Owners. But, every so often, I’d stop by an 82nd event, and get the same big smile from Shirley and a welcome hand from the brotherhood of paratroopers, and some ribbing for not winning election battles.  If there is a reason why my license plate has the army jump wings on it- it’s because of Shirley, who put a higher value on the fraternity than I ever would have imagined. It’s not about my accomplishments, but about that of those who came before me and after me

As I ran around the track at Ft. Benning, during “tower week,” past the c47 painted in Normandy invasion stripes, we would chant a cadence about the perils of parachuting…

Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door.
Jump on out and count to 4,
and if my main don’t open wide,
I’ve got another, by my side.
And if that one should fail me too,
lookout ground, I’m comin’ through
Tell my girl, I’ve done my best-
Pin my medals upon my chest
bury me in the front leaning rest…

Thank you for your service Shirley Gossett. And for being a prince among men. Those who have had the honor to shake your hand, and share in the Airborne brotherhood will miss you. There isn’t anything more you could have done for us, your family, our country.

Airborne, all the way.

 

Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 19 at the Morton & Whetstone Funeral Home, 139 S. Dixie Dr., Vandalia with Pastor Dennis Phillips officiating. Interment with military honors will follow at Forest Hills Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. until time of service.

 

 

 

Loss of institutional knowledge at Dayton Daily news showing

A good friend thanked me for posting about the passing of two former candidates for the Dayton City Commission. I didn’t write much- but, both times, the following day, the paper had a decent send-off for these past leaders. Granted, both of them died way too young (55, 53) but, by no means should they have received more ink than this man- Tom Wilson. The sum total of the obit that I could find in the DDn is this:

KETTERING —

Former Montgomery County Sheriff Lewis “Tom” Wilson died Friday, a day after his 86th birthday.

Wilson, of Kettering, served as sheriff from 1979 to 1987.

Funeral visitation is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 4, followed by the funeral services at 2 p.m. at the Kettering Routsong Funeral home, 2100 E. Stroop Road.

via Former sheriff Tom Wilson dies at 86 | www.mydaytondailynews.com. Posted: 6:26 p.m. Sunday, March 30, 2014

No photo, no recollections, no noted accomplishments- just what amounts to the same as a death notice.

From the paid death notice:

WILSON, Lewis Thomas Of Dayton, Ohio, died peacefully in his apartment at One Lincoln Park on March 28, 2014, the day after celebrating his 86th birthday. Tom was the 5th born to Russell and Madeline Wilson of Falmouth Ky. on March 27th, 1928. His family moved to Dayton where he graduated from Wilbur Wright HS in 1946. While there, Tom lettered in football and track, worked as a lifeguard at NCR’s Old River, and met Lois Joan Anderson whom he was married to for 54 yrs. After high cchool, he got a job with NCR as a key bank setter where he saved up enough money to pay for his first year at UD and was awarded a football scholarship. Tom would soon find his calling and spend a total of 37 years in law enforcement. He served 8 years with Oakwood and graduated from the FBI National Academy. Tom then served 19 years as chief deputy sheriff and 10 years as sheriff of Montgomery County from 1978 to 1988. He was past president of the FBI National Academy Association of Ohio, the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, Law Enforcement Officers Association of Montgomery County, Ohio-Indiana Police Association, S.W. Ohio Police and Sheriffs Association and was awarded the Ohio’s Outstanding Sheriff’s Award in 1981. His involvement and lifelong contributions to the Dayton community are many where he has served as past president of the Dayton Agonis Club and on the boards for AAA, Goodwill Industries, Dayton Boys/Girls Club, Kiwanis Club, Easter Seals, Camp Fire Council, and Old Time Newsies. He was past master of George Marshall Lodge which became Far Hills Lodge #784, a member of the York Rite Bodies, a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason, Royal Order of Jesters, and a past potentate of the Antioch Shrine Temple. Most of all, Tom was deeply dedicated to his family and numerous friends and always strived to deliver an unsurpassed level of excellence in all that he did. Tom was predeceased by his wife, Lois in 2003. She was the love of his life. He is survived by his very dear loving companion, June Mathewson of Centerville, OH; son, Joseph C. Wilson of West Carrollton, OH; 2 daughters, Penny Ellis of Boulder Creek, Calif., and Wendy McArdle of Bristol, Vt.; 2 grandsons, Jason Wilson and Alex Ellis; 2 granddaughters, Caroline McArdle, Jenna McArdle; 2 great grandchildren and a host of loving nieces and nephews. A Masonic service will be held at 1:45 p.m., with a memorial service to follow at 2:00 p.m., Friday, April 4, 2014, at Routsong Funeral Home, 2100 E. Stroop Rd. in Kettering. The family will greet friends in the funeral home from 10:00 a.m. to 1: p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Antioch Building Corp., 107 E. First St., Dayton, OH 45402 or The Dayton Masonic Foundation for the Scottish Rite Learning Center, PO Box 932, Dayton, OH 45401. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.routsong.com

Published in Dayton Daily News on Apr. 2, 2014
– See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dayton/obituary.aspx?pid=170459471#sthash.uj8Jvzy1.dpuf

In the past, the DDn has been criticized for not remembering D-Day, Pearl Harbor Day, MLK Day, etc.- so they make sure to give ample coverage- but, that’s not really news in our community, that’s fluff. A man whp served in our community as the highest elected lawman for a decade, deserved more.

The fact is, with all the “retirements” and cutbacks- the Dayton Daily news institutional knowledge base is minimal. They don’t know the history, the connections, the reason 2+2 often only equals 3 in this community.

My father chastised me for writing about the death notices- and calling them failed obits. I’m pretty sure, had I not written about them, the DDn wouldn’t have either. To Tom Wilson, and all his friends- and I’m sure he had way more friends than I’ll ever have, he deserved better. I’m sorry I didn’t catch it. And to TP, thanks for pointing this out.