Lifestyle & Belief

Remembering a World War II vet — my father, David Werman

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Marco Werman's father David Werman in England in 1943.

My father was in the 376th US flight squadron, and supported the D-Day invasion of Normandy from the bases in England.

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When the order came that the invasion was on, his commanding officer told him and his company, "This is it, send your wives home" — that's one of my dad's standout memories of the war.

I don't know why wives were on the base. I never asked Dad.

And now I can't.

You may have noticed I was away the last few days. I took off for New York City to be with him since he's been pretty frail lately.

He died Tuesday morning.

David Werman was a great guy.

You get a small dose of him whenever you hear me, I can assure you.

He loved politics and music. He was a psychoanalyst, and actually gave me one of the best pieces of advice when interviewing people: "Keep the questions brief."

The best answers, he said, come when you just sort of nudge the door open a bit with your foot, and let them walk all the way in.

I hope I (mostly) follow that advice.

He was 92. He died of cancer.

But after a rich 92 years, I guess you can say he died of old age — very little suffering, in his bed, in his sleep, in the city where he was born, New York.

My dad travelled a lot in his life. He knew Europe — West and East, quite well. He knew the Mideast and had been to Africa once — and he loved Mexico.

David Werman photo in US military

David Werman as a young man.

And it was funny to see the world come to his doorsteps in Manhattan in the last days of his life.

The doormen in his apartment building — from all over the place — loved him. 

Tai, who's from the West Indies, wrote my sister and me: "From the first day we met," he said, "I knew Doc was no ordinary man. He was full of life, joy and laughter."

That is definitely true — was definitely true.

So let me thank you doormen, Tai, and Jose, Asif, and Ron, and anyone else I may have neglected.

And let me thank Mona, the hospice nurse from Nepal; and Ana, Dad's housekeeper from Colombia, who wanted a few minutes alone to pray with his body before she left his apartment; and Helene, his piano teacher from France who had to find out from the doormen when she came for Dad's lesson on Tuesday — I'm so sorry we couldn't reach you sooner; and the waiter from Mexico at the diner down the block; and everybody else who helped out this 90-something guy in recent years.

Thank you all for coming to New York, and thank you for the friendship you found with my dad.