These are the letters that came to me after David’s death:
This news of course came as a great shock !!! We are so very sorry and what a terrible ending to his life. He loved his family and was always devoted to all of us, especially you. He never missed an event that included his family. I am really saddened because he was a part of us and sadly he will not be there any longer. I’m also so sad to learn of all of your mishaps. This has definitely been a trying time for you. I’m so happy that Barbara Pailet has been helping you. You have always been a great daughter and sister no matter how difficult the circumstances. Please keep us posted, and again our sympathies. He will be missed.
Again, I am so sorry for your and Molly’s loss.
David for many years was a fixture at all of the Jewish holiday meals with the family and in fact I was looking forward to seeing him again in just a few short weeks for Rosh Hashana. He had the worlds best time playing with Leah and Ian at the table and talking with them. It was really just amazing to watch them interact. What a kid at heart he was. He was “Uncle David” not just to me, but to my kids as well through all of these meals shared together.
My heart is just broken over the whole thing and my stomach is tied in a knot thinking about the senseless violence that ended his life. Most of all, I am furious about the opportunity this took away from my kids to get to know him the way I have over all these years…
I am very blessed to have known him and his smile and I can assure you that he will forever be alive in my sole.
Please know our thoughts are with you both as with Kim, Lisa and their kids too. I am so sorry I will not be able to be with you in person in New Orleans next week but please know we are there in spirit.
We love you!
I had the pleasure of meeting David sometime around 2006, and upon meeting him I thought, “what a gruff fella he is”, but he always had a twinkle in his eye that told me otherwise, and we grew to be friends as the years went by. I’m glad I told him I thought of him as a friend.
We had a bit of a professional falling out after a couple of years of doing business together, but he still would call me from time to time asking me for my advice about a few things regarding investments, and that is where we started becoming friends. One day I asked him to lunch, and I had a marvelous time in his company. It was our first time meeting outside of a professional setting, and he took the time to share a lot about who he was and his thoughts about life in general. I felt fortunate to have him open up to me, as I have a feeling David was a very private person for the most part. In some ways, we were kindred spirits, as I too am a private person who only opens up to a few people, but found myself sharing a lot of heartfelt personal details of my life with David that afternoon. It was at the end of the afternoon that I learned something else about David, which never waned or wavered, which is his unique sense of humor.
As it stood, I also became a glad benefactor of David’s humorous musings and jokes. In particular, he always gave me a belly laugh from his jokes, mind you, not necessarily from the joke itself, (of which some were very, very funny indeed), but for the unique delivery of the jokes David told and of the smile he would have on his face afterwards, as he rarely added any extra emotion or tipping points about the punch line………which I found extremely unique and endearing. David would stop by office from time to time after that, and I always looked forward to what joke he might tell me that day.
In November of 2010, he had come by my office, and we were shooting the breeze, and I thought it would be nice to have David over for Thanksgiving amongst my family and friends. I suppose he was taken off guard, and asked me if I was inviting him over because he was a client. I said no, I’m inviting you over because I enjoy your company and think of you as a friend. I’m really glad I had the chance to tell him that.
I’ll miss having David over for Thanksgiving this year.
Hi Dr. Goldberg,
Yes, that was very well put. His “matter of fact” way of telling his jokes was really something else. No matter how zany the joke was, his delivery was even better!!!
I felt fortunate to get to know David, as he seemed to have a lot of understated joy inside of him that I got to see from time to time.
I first met the Goldberg family when I began going to 9th grade at Isidore Newman School, the most prestigious school in New Orleans mainly for very smart, rich, well connected, philanthropic Jews. I was a middle class gentile from the suburbs. Jane and I became instant friends. She had a sports car, an indoor swimming pool and a bomb shelter in her backyard. They were the quirkiest family I had ever met. Along with Jane came David, another quirky, hysterically funny, and care taking person. David was Jane’s anchor to her family as they died off too soon, one by one, her father, her mother who she kept alive well after she should have been, and her sister. He was also the dearest, most loving uncle to Mol.
After Jane moved to NYC she would return often to NOLA and with her was always David, telling jokes with the timing of a stand up comedienne, which I believe he could have been but he was way too humble to do so and instead sold Freon for air conditioning as his living. He was the person who would take in all the orphans, no matter how troubled, selfish, thankful or not they were. He was at the same time street savvy and innocent, almost like a child. I never knew him to be sad or ask for anything from anybody, emotional or otherwise. When Jane visited NOLA he was her chauffer, loving brother to do her bidding, which at times could be a tad high maintenance, but with no complaints whatsoever, but rather, enjoyment that his beloved sister was with him.
Ironically when Jane called me to tell me of his murder (death) I sobbed more than I had at my dear mother’s death (whom I loved more than any person on the face of the earth besides my Chinese daughter) or at my father’s death. I just sobbed and sobbed.
The night of the morning she called me I had a dream. I was with an old and dearly loved boyfriend who could be very cruel, an Iranian, sexist man, but I was madly in love with him. In the dream he had me locked up somewhere from whence I could not escape. I kept begging him to tell me how to get out of there and he wouldn’t say a word. I kept thinking that I needed the police because he needed to be arrested. He kept me there with no possibility of escape. I kept thinking that if I could contact the police I would be set free but to no avail. He took pleasure in having all the power, capturing me and just staring at me, wordless, watching me squirm. Unfortunately in the dream I never got free.
I believe, with all my heart and soul that that dream was about David and the profound affect he had upon me. At the end of his life, he was trapped by a person he may have loved in some way, who took advantage of his kindness and driven by sadism, destroyed him despite his pleas for mercy and desperate struggle to save himself. His own accepting and loving heart was destroyed by a person who could never had appreciated or received his gift. That is a tragedy of the highest magnitude.
And for dear Jane, I pray that she with her indomitable, persevering spirit will be able to endure this travesty and I know David, along side her mother will live in her heart forever. And unbeknownst to me, in mine as well.
Words can’t express the shock I’m feeling over the passing of your brother and the cruel way he was taken from you and your family. I can’t say that I will ever understand the cruelty that one does to another. It is completely senseless. I was moved and in a way charmed by the statements your friends wrote about him. I remember when I meet him last year, I had the feeling of being a child sitting down at the feet of my elder ready to catch all the words of wisdom and character that fell from his lips. He was a whole and substantial human being and I remember feeling inspired meeting someone who had so much courage and tenacious spirit after Katrina and that awful day in his store when he had to defend his own life. Your brother came to this life to exemplify courage and strength. From the little bit that I knew of him, it appears he did just that.
My love and prayers are with you and Molly,
God Bless you both,
When I met you I could tell how important David was to you because you called him right then and there to tell him how excited you were that I was visiting. And because you wanted us all to be connected, you put me on the line with him. I enjoyed talking with him.
It’s true that you did look beautiful that evening you held the memorial. You held court with aplomb. Quite serenely. It was good to hear all these stories about David; to get a clearer picture of who he was. Feel cheated, really cheated. And to say it to you or Molly feels idiotically trivial. It was a very good thing, I think, that the timing of Beloved David’s memorial coincided with it being one week to the day and maybe the hour of his passing. Basherdt. A real blessing!
I haven’t said much about losing him so suddenly, and in this awful and tragic way, because I have been at a loss for words . Every time I would try to express anything around this, the words fall absurdly, crazily short. My disappointment at not getting to know David, my shock at the news. The sound of your horror screams on the other end of the phone that I can still feel reverberating in my chest. I could only sense death in your voice and I, until you got coherent enough, I didn’t even know if it was you who were dying! It shook me! Shook me so. It’s inexpressible. Still shakes me. My sense, my feelings have been inexpressible to me. Writing these words is abhorrent to me. The sense of outrage is so deep and my words can’t get anywhere near it.
I still feel the same way. But, as I have over the last few days, as inadequate and absurd as my words feel; I have to say something.
With Inexpressively Deep Sorrow, and Much Love and Compassion for You,
I was so sorry to hear about the death of your brother David. He sounded like such a caring and decent person, devoting his life to helping others.
Have many good memories of spending time at your cool house growing up. My memory of your mother was that she always made us laugh and let us do anything we wanted! Wasn’t Lee nice to us, despite our being younger and less savvy? What happened to all those years? Who could have imagined back then the pain, twists and turns we would endure? Wanted to send my condolences. This must be such a sad time for you.
All my best, Susan
I am so sad for you and for myself and of course for David. I do believe in a resurrection of the dead and look forward to seeing David again in a world with no sickness or death. David and I were friends since 1967 and enjoyed being friends and talking about things that we had a common interest in. I will miss him very much as I am sure you will too.
This is a wicked nasty world we live in but it will be replaced with something far better.
These are two letters written by myself and a friend before David’s death:
I have known David Goldberg, owner of the store Meyer’s Auto Parts in New Orleans, La., for thirty years. During this period of time I have found him to be an honest and hard working proprietor. Evaluating his contribution to the city of New Orleans from the point of view of an urban planner, I would say that David Goldberg is someone who has shown himself to be among those who are the backbone of the commercial district in New Orleans. He has shown this through the attributes of uncompromising commitment to his work, his diligence as a business owner, and his integrity in dealing with his customers.
David Goldberg treated everyone who came into Meyer’s Auto Parts equally. There was no one who needed to buy auto parts, hubcaps, wheels, etc. who was not treated respectfully by Mr. David Goldberg. He served the poor as well as the not-poor, often lending credit to those who could not afford to pay immediately – always with the customer’s best interests in mind.
It is to his credit that David has continued his business post-Katrina – that he has returned to New Orleans, the city in which he was raised and that he loves. Although he suffered substantial losses because of Katrina, both through flooding of his inventory (close to a $50,000 loss) as well as loss of his home and place of business (at 2222 S. Broad), he has been industrious and imaginative enough to find a new location, set up shop anew, and continue earning an honest living through hard work.
I feel honored that David Goldberg counts me as one of his friends, as there is no man whose friendship I value more than his. As a person, he is witty, warm and friendly, very funny, and down-to-earth. With David, you get what you see – and one feels immediately comfortable in his presence because of this quality of straight-forwardness. If I were in a disaster of the magnitude of the one he lived through a year ago, he is the guy I would want to be next to me. He is the one I would trust to get us out safely. There is no higher recommendation I can give to a man than the one I give to David Goldberg.
Robert W. Burchell, Ph. D.
Rutgers University, Center for Urban Policy Research
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
I, of course, have known my brother all my life as my big brother. And as that, he has been loving and supportive of me in every way from when we were children to now.
But more than that, as adults, I have come to respect my brother as a man and as an adult.
Over the years, he has shown me in so many ways that he is a person of great compassion and integrity. Even when he was just in his twenties and thirties, he made sure that my grandmother was well cared for after her husband died, and even took her on trips with him. He made sure that our mother spent her last days at home, dying at home surrounded by her family and her loved ones. He has visited me in New York (my home for the last 30 years) for every occasion that I have asked him to come to – my birthday parties, my daughter’s birthday parties. We have often met in Atlanta to visit our nieces. He has been, throughout the years, a stand-up guy for the whole family – always making sure that he came to every family function, always contributing to the festive atmosphere through his indomitable humor (known to everyone who has come into contact with him) and his manners and grace. He is a caring person.
Everyone that meets my brother adores him. He is friendly, funny, sweet and well-mannered. I have met many people who have said that he is their favorite person.
And, this final letter came to me snail mail two weeks after David’s death:
Dear Dr. Goldberg
Maybe David had mentioned me to you before but you may not remember. My name is Zhyong Yang and I am a Chinese student living in Denmark. David and I were very good friends. I feel very sorry for his passing.
David and I knew each other through internet 5 years ago, and we communicated with each other almost every day since then as long as we could. Chatting with David and looking for David online had become part of my daily life in these years until recently I lost contact with him. So I tried to call his cell phone number a few days ago, but it was another guy who answered the phone. I was shocked with what I heard from the guy and I just could not believe it. I searched news about David on internet until I saw his obituary. I could not keep myself from crying at the moment.
David was such a great person as far as I know. He was funny, friendly, helpful and generous. He also had such a kind heart. He always said he dropped out of college because he as stupid. But I think he was one of the smartest people I ever knew in my life. He was so witty in life. He was always curious to learn new things and he learned very quickly. I was so surprised that I could help him solve problems on his computer through chatting on MSN, because I never managed to teach my father to use a TV remote.
I enjoyed so much chatting with David every day and I think he liked it too. We sometimes could just chat for hours by arguing some silly stuff or sending each other funny things. Even though we had become pen pals for years but we never managed to meet because I live in Denmark and he was in the USA, until I finally had a chance to visit the USA at attending a conference in May. David flew to Niagara to meet me and we spent two wonderful days there together. It was the first time we met each other in person but we felt it like a reunion of two old friends. I regretted that we did not have more time to be together and I wished I could go to New Orleans to visit him one day. But now there is no hope anymore.
David told me about you many times. He said you are the smartest person he knew in his life. He was so proud of you and showed me your video on youtube. When he knew I planned to visit NYC in May, he told me I could stay at your home if I liked to. He said you are a very kind and a friendly person and I would be welcomed to stay over. But I refused his kind offer because I didn’t feel comfortable stay at a stranger’s home. But now I wished I said yes at that time then I could know more about David and his family.
I think you must be in sorrow for the loss of David, and I wish I could do something for David. So I send this sympathy card to you. I wish this card could ease your pain a little bit and it will make me feel better too if it did.
My friend told me David will never die as long as we make a place for him in our hearts. David will live forever because there will always be a place for him in our hearts.
My deepest sorrows and condolences for you and your family.
And a week later, after I had responded to Yang’s letter:
Dear Dr. Jane Goldberg:
Sorry I missed your phone and mail yesterday, because I was out of town with friend for half day.
I am very glad to hear from you this morning. And as David had told me, you are very nice and friendly.
I did not know you wanted to go to Niagara to meet us too, otherwise I could think about postpone my trip and meet both of you in NYC instead. But David never mentioned about it too me, maybe because he knew I want to see the falls so much and hoped me to have a good trip in USA. You don’t know how grateful I was that David came to Niagara to meet me. The Motel I booked is a little far from the town and falls, and it is not easy to take bus from airport to hotel. But David found out about it before the trip and rent a car to drive me around. He made my trip to be so wonderful. He was so considerable.
And for a bit of humor, this is what I found in David’s computer – his instructions to Yang on how they would find each other – (picture David giving these instructions with absolute dead-pan demeanor):
TELL ME IF I’M CORRECT – you arrive at Buffalo (Niagara Falls) airport at 12:47 pm May 7 Saturday – on Delta flight #4293 correct
I arrive on Delta Flight #805 at 12:50 pm
There are only 4 Delta “gates” (you understand “gates”) the “doors” that the plane parks at for you to walk out of – there are only four for Delta at this airport and they are close together
So when you get off your plane look at the TV monitor it shows all the flights and look for my flight Delta # 805 and it will tell if it is on time and what gate it is at // really maybe be better you can ask the Delta agent when you get off your plane which gate flight # 805 is at and if it is on-time
And I will do the same I will look for your flight and gate
Also you have to know I come from my city New Orleans to Atlanta on flight #1488 and I then take Flight #805 from Atlanta To Buffalo (Niagara falls) SO if you dont see me then you should ask agent at the sitting area at the gate if my flight #1488 from New Orleans to Atlanta was on time
But I think it is Ok that the planes are on time
So you can look for me at my gate or you can sit down near your gate and I will find you either one
If my plane is very late you will have to decide if you wait for me or if you go to hotel
And if you don’t see me, you can phone me – you will see”pay phones” phones on the wall that accept money not paper money, coins probably 50 cents 2 -25 cent coins (we call quarters) if you call my cell phone it will be additional money for long distance phone call because you will be in New York and my phone is from New Orleans maybe $1 or $2 but I think only coins BUT we have, we call it TOLL FREE calls also.
My mobile phone number is xxx-xxx-0145 – to call it you will NOT have to dial a country code because you are in the USA BUT you do have to first dial 1-xxx-xxx-0145 and maybe it cost $1 or $2. BUT – better you can call my TOLL FREE number: 1-xxx-xxx-6662 and it will ring to my mobile phone. MAYBE you can call the toll free number with out putting coins in pay phone, maybe or maybe you will have to put coins in pay phone but with this toll free number you do not have to put more coins for long distance , you try first calling the 888 number with out putting in coins. Oh maybe if you want you can call the toll free number when you are in Ohio or when you are in NYC before Saturday SO I will look you on MSN maybe at your job/school or when you get home