Remembering Gary Froid

On the second Anniversary of my Stepfather, Gary’s passing, I am sharing the piece that I wrote two years ago in his honor.

If you knew Gary, then you will totally “get” this!

If you knew Gary then you miss him.  This is for you!

Gary & me at the Suncoasters Coronation Ball 1990 when I was on the Sungoddess Court

Gary & me at the Suncoasters Coronation Ball 1991 when I was on the Sungoddess Court

Remembering GRF

Remembering GRF


It has been one year since my Stepfather passed away. There is no doubt in my mind that Gary’s larger-than-life presence remains in some way with the people whose lives he touched.

To honor the man that I miss, I am re-posting the piece that I wrote about him shortly after his passing.





My Stepfather, Gary passed away on November 5, 2013.  He was one of the most dynamic, tough, unique, firm and intelligent people that I have ever known and will ever know. He was also my friend who I have known my entire life.

I have learned a lot about Gary in the days since he passed.  I reread the “12 Commandments” (non-religious) list that he authored.  It had been years since I read “the list” and felt a pang of sadness as each one resonated with me in a way that it had not before.

Thoughts and memories keep racing through my mind and although I had hesitated to post about the passing of my Stepfather due to how personal and intimate this loss is to me, I realize that putting those thoughts and memories to “paper” would be a good thing for me. “Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do” (Commandment #12).

Losing a loved one leaves a deep fissure in your life.  Gary lived a very full and rather intriguing life but those who knew and loved Gary agree that he left us too soon. What I am going to try to do for myself is find significance in the memories, reflections and lessons.  And oh boy, are there a lot of those.  “Above all else be true to thyself” – Pelonius (Commandment #9).

Commandments GRF-style

Commandments GRF-style

One of my two earliest memories of Gary was when I followed his suggestion to name my Teddy Bear (that he gave me), “Elmer”.  When he was a child, he had a stuffed animal named “Elmer” so why shouldn’t I?  The second was sitting with my Mom, Dad and Gary in my living room in front of a crackling fire (on one of those rare Florida evenings when you can actually use your fireplace) and watched in fright as a gigantic roach crawled up the wall.  Gary swiftly removed his shoe, stood up, squished the roach, replaced his shoe and sat back down.  He did not miss a beat.

Over a decade of friendship later, Gary became my Stepdad.  It is both unusual and comforting to have a relationship like this.  Living with Gary meant the acquisition of a gaggle of step-siblings; Sunday family BBQs; numerous strict rules; hundreds of Berol Verithin Red and Blue Pencils, notepads, binders, colored plastic paperclips and highlighters in multiple drawers; TVs in almost every room of the house; a pantry and wet bar stocked to the gills (in case of an emergency); a collection of books (all of which he had read at least once) that could rival a library; many No-Ad sunscreen bottles; deep-fried catfish; snoring of epic proportions; Popov vodka in the freezer; running the house like an office including but not limited to having a telephone system set up so that you could make room-to-room calls (each phone had its own extension) and transfer incoming calls; a second refrigerator containing beer (75%) and camera film (25%); big rafts for the pool; never knowing where the next rubber roach would be hiding to scare us; a game room filled with his colossal collections (untouchable treasures), a juke box, electric train set, (partially untouchable); arcade games and a dart board that averted any possible boredom; consistently high-maintenance boating excursions that included some sort of problem during every.single.outing.  Listening and nodding as Gary explained the “only” way to crack a stone crab, pour a beer, eat an oyster, warm up a car on a chilly morning, grill a steak, drive a car and vote. “There’s no right way to do something wrong” (Commandment #6).  The thermostat was continuously set to an arctic temperature; there were always rather unique and often enormous souvenirs to welcome into the house after each trip (exotic or not) that he took with my Mom; Christmas tree(s) plus abundant and elaborate interior and exterior decorations during the holidays; the no phone calls during dinner or after 9pm rule was a hard one to follow, especially in high school; four newspapers were delivered every day. “Read – know when to take a profit – there are worse things than having to pay taxes on a gain” (Commandment #4).

CLASSIC: the Berol Verithin red and blue pencil

CLASSIC: the Berol Verithin red and blue pencil

I will miss that distinctive deep voice, how I smelled of Aramis after I hugged him; his words of wisdom. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” (Commandment #1).  I will miss him asking me how my cholesterol is every.single.time. I ate cheese in front of him; his insistence on what I should do and see on my domestic and international trips (because he had undoubtedly been there and done that before) even though our travel styles were completely different; receiving a newspaper article in the mail that had highlights, underlines and hard to read handwritten notes in the margin and on sticky notes to stress his opinion; his reliability & consistency were second to none. “Always do what you say – if things change and you can’t do what you promised, then let the person know” (Commandment #7). I will miss the annual Christmas Day chat during the “A Christmas Story” marathon on TV because I saw it with him in the theatre in 1983 and vividly remember how excited he was that a film captured his Midwestern childhood so perfectly.  That incredible generosity that touched countless lives will be missed. “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it” (Commandment #2). I will miss how, at a restaurant, he would deliberately hand the wine list over to me in front of the server (knowing how it drove me bonkers when it was assumed that “the man” would order the wine) because he knew that I would order something that he had never tried but would enjoy; I will miss knowing that he is a phone call away if I need superlative advice on my new business venture and wish that I would have asked him more questions the last time we spoke. “Timing is everything. It’s like war in the element of surprise” (Commandment #8).  I will miss the fact that even if the lesson was tough or we did not agree on an issue or I did not understand his message at first that his points were on the mark. I will miss observing him in action socially and professionally, in his distinctive and traditional Gary Froid way. “It’s all relationships” (Commandment #5).

I will miss Gary’s singularity.

Gary in New Orleans, 1983

Gary in New Orleans, 1983

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