Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Bittersweet Weekend


How to even begin to describe the levels of inspiration that Gene and Loretta provided? Committed educators, representative of the best of NYC and it's radical traditions, wonderful friends offering help and comfort to those around them, people full of humor and the life force... Farewell, brother: you lit the path before us and made it a little easier to go forward... Michael Fiorillo
Over 40 years ago I met a group of people when I became an education activist -- read "real reformer" -- in the community I taught in and in the UFT. A bunch of us have remained friends over these years. Losing one of the core members is a big blow. So today's (and tomorrow's) wake for Gene Prisco is a very sad affair. Our little group is heading over this afternoon and it is still hard to believe.

It was over 10 years ago when I had a party at my house, inviting the 70s group and a newer group of people I met though Ed Notes -- people like Michael and John Lawhead -- and later on, Jeff Kaufman and James Eterno and Lisa North and Gloria Brandman --- the old guard and the newer guard bonded very easily -- with many of the same views -- and that is what made the formation of ICE feasible.  And since Gene had already retired, it gave him a forum and an opportunity to introduce his strong voice to a larger audience.

It was hard to not talk about Gene and Loretta though I  pretty much kept saying, "oy vey." I am truly devoid of eloquence. Unfortunately I can't make the funeral on Tuesday morning as I have an important appointment with my dentist to fix a broken tooth.

Gene's wake will be today and tomorrow at Harmon's funeral home on Forest Ave in Staten Island from 4-7.

Purely due to coincidence, since we ordered the tickets a long time ago, last night 5 of us went out to see Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" at Town Hall, the first of 4 New York live radio performances. (It will be rebroadcast today at 11 AM on NPR 820am radio. I recommend going to this if you can get tickets.)

We enjoyed 2 hours of laughter and a fine meal at a Thai place on 8th Ave off 42nd St. Now back to reality.

If you want some eloquence, here are some great comments at the ICE blog.
Blogger Jeff Kaufman said...
Thanks, James and to all of you who have known Gene and have been touched by his compassion, strength and lust for life. Gene's gift of making everyone feel special and important extended to those that totally disagreed with his strong views. While it is a huge loss he has left a legacy which will live on through all of us.
Anonymous 
 John Lawhead said...
We loved you, Gene Prisco. You were a wise and charming fellow. You always had an open heart and timely words to make us feel we're part of something larger.
Anonymous  
Mike MORE said...
May God Bless Loretta and the family, my deepest sympathies
Anonymous  
Gloria said...
Although I didn't know Gene that well, I learned quickly at ICE meetings that when Gene was about to speak, it was in all of our best interests to listen very carefully! His words, his analysis, his advise always gave the energy and wisdom needed to move our goals towards building an activist, strong and member centric union forward! Gene, Presente !

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