Gary Maresca, January 1, 1948 – November 16, 2010

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Incredibly, devastatingly horrible news: after a battle with pancreatic cancer, Gary Maresca died yesterday at the age of 62. Gary is best known for his time on Frank the Entertainer in A Basement Affair, on which he advised his son alongside his wife, Susan. Gary leaves behind Susan and five children, including Frank and Sal, who were also on the show. We’ll be hearing more from the Maresca family in the coming days. In the meantime, the family requests that those interested in sending flowers instead donate money to the Lustgarten Foundation, which is devoted research of and finding a cure for pancreatic cancer.

I only spoke to Gary briefly, but way before that even, his love for his wife and children was evident. He really rooted for Frank, and I could tell that he got a kick out of Frank’s time on reality TV. Gary was sick for a while, but it always struck me as special that he was able to see Frank get his own show, and participate in it. I know that he was proud.

Here’s what he told me in March when I asked him about filming a show while sick:

“I always would have liked to have been in this kind of atmosphere and get a chance to get on television, and because of Frank I got my chance. Even as a kid, it was something that I dreamed to do, but when the time came, I was thinking of not even doing it and just letting my wife go. She didn’t want to leave me home alone because I really wasn’t in shape to stay here alone. The producers were really nice to me, but I still felt obligated there. I’m not sorry I did it, though. For my children, all my children, my wife and I have sacrificed. The only thing in my legacy when I’m gone is that I’ve always been a good family man. I love Frankie.”

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