HUSBAND, FATHER, PAPATOO, LAWYER, FRIEND, COMIC, SINGER, WRITER
The only way I could be persuaded to allow publication of an obituary was by a promise that it would start by saying thanks to those who extended a hand along the way and then, goodbye to friends, colleagues and clients, first in Buffalo and for the past 40 years in Houston. I have tried to make amends to some folks who were wronged and I have tried to walk away from hard feelings for those who I felt did me wrong.
Here’s the customary information: I was born December 26, 1936 in Buffalo, N.Y., and died April 25, 2019. I claimed not to have a middle name, but that was an inveracity- Clarence, can you imagine? My natural father, Murray (Yosovitz) Josephs, died when I was only nine months old. My mother was Lillian Rivo Josephs Heller who married my adoptive father, Joseph Heller, in part, so that I could grow up knowing a father. I was an only child.
It made me smile to say to people that no man was luckier in love than me. Millicent Osteller, the mother of my three natural children, died in 1988, after 27 years of marriage. My luck was doubled when I married Dénnis Celestine Seuzeneau in 1991 and when her natural child, Michele and I, legally adopted each other. I am survived by Dénnis, after 28 years of marriage, Beth and her partner Mike Clark, Mark and Erica and our grandchildren Miles and Ayla, and Michele and Bobby Marandi and our grandchild Beckett. Daughter-in-law Danielle survived my dear son, Neil.
There will be no funeral service. Instead, the family and friends will gather at a family member’s home to share memories both sad, joyous and funny; drink to my memory with shot-glasses of powerful Slivovitz; have some unhealthy things to eat, and welcome all of you who wish to come. No flowers, please. My family is allergic. Memorial gifts may be made to a charity of your choice, or to the Millicent Heller Endowment, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, N.Y. 14222.
I took great joy throughout my life in anything involving a ball. That’s mentioned first because that’s what kids do. A game in the morning, bike home for lunch. A game in the afternoon, do my paper route, bike home for dinner. A game in the long summer evening, home after an ice cream and some not-so-furtive Lucky Strikes. Followed until the end by golf, some of it quite good.
We have never lost track of each other, my friends from childhood. Most specially Nelson Korus and the late Ronnie Joseph. I can still touch my law school study partner, Jules Ramm, who with the late Joe Mogavero, was also my first law partner. My heart aches for Bill Bellas, my friend and colleague, who died too soon. It’s not so easy to make such friendships when you get older, but Alan Selbst and Nolan Bedford and Lucky Sotiriades and Allan Lazor and Dave Matthes and my brother-in-law, Peter Marana, were fun to be with, and steadfast.
On the first day of Law School, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. Getting kicked out of Pharmacy School was a good thing on several levels: quite a wake-up call and it set me on the road to my calling. I’ve had my ticket for more than 50 years, giving me the chance to make something good happen for a host of deserving people. Patricia Schmidt supported me for half those years, which turned out to be a good thing for both of us.
Daynee and Milli say that I was a good and loving husband, to which, I think to myself, I learned my lessons well insofar as the “good” is concerned; the “love” part was easy. Did you know that I met each of them by way of a blind date? The warp and woof of the strings that compose the Universe are a good way to explain fate, and that’s what it was. Daynee and I chose a song together that said it all for us- Our Love is Here to Stay, and it was. For Milli and me the song chose us on our second date- All the Way. Tears flow as I write, at the thought of not being with them.
I was present and participatory as my kids grew to adulthood. I only remember the best parts, and those were bountiful. I like my children more as grown-ups. They are loyal and funny and smart and considerate and soulful and brave. They make society better. I see that Miles and Ayla are becoming bright and balanced people who show uninhibited love and kindness. As I write, the auguries are very good for two-year-old Beckett. He is a bright, happy child, full of curiosity.
I do regret not doing more for society; instead, receiving the reflected glow from supporting Milli and Daynee in their many good works. There were a few: kid hockey, bringing the kid soccer league to realization, saving the temple from insolvency by getting into the bingo business, singing in the choir, bringing our neighborhood’s deed restrictions into the 21st century, a little bit of politics.
There have been, I guess, many more than the average number of crossing points in my life; instances when choices or happenings could have sent me off in directions that would have changed everything that followed. I wish for nothing different, being content, that life has been mostly fair and all things considered, sweet.
Burchfield Penny Art Center, Millicent Heller Endowment
1300 Elmwood Ave,, Buffalo NY 14222
Millicent Heller Endowment