My father, Howard Epstein, passed away this afternoon, peacefully, after a long struggle with Parkinson's.
A boy from Queens, NY, Dad served in the Navy at the tail end of World War II. He used his G.I. Bill to go the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (the "Sciences Po"), coming away a lifelong francophile.
After a stint as a reporter for the Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, OH, is the largest city in the US beginning with "X"), he joined Facts on File, a weekly indexed digest of international news. He became its President, starting up Checkmark Books, an imprint for dictionaries, atlases and encyclopedias, and coincidentally employing many of my friends while I was in high school. He took the company from $2 million a year to $20 million a year, before being unceremoniously fired for trying to protect his staff from layoffs during a merger.
Dad was a mensch. I'm touched by how many people really loved him. He was a nurturing man, and took care of everyone around him. He was crazy about my mom. He liked sailboats, British roadsters, and old biplanes, though he only owned the one catboat. He appreciated good wine, and made sure his friends got enough of it. He made a hell of a ragout.
He was working on a book about the French people who saved, or did not save, or hunted, Jewish children during the Nazi occupation of France.
I've missed him for a while, because Parkinson's steals people from you bit by bit for a long time; his passing was a blessing. He was an atheist, but I'm not, so I get to hope he's in a place where he feels all the love he brought into the world.