I first met Paul and Paula in mid-1965 when my then soon-to-be-wife Milan and me to a Chinese dinner at the now defunct Ratskeller Restaurant in New York Chinatown. That dinner as someone in the movie CASABLANCA said, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and it was; it was enriched by time and endured to the present.

To say that Paul will be missed is a total understatement. I immediately missed his art of Dentistry when he retired from his practice but still managed to catch some vestigial segment of his expertise in the field when he joined the New York University of Dentistry as an adjunct faculty professor where I followed him for my dental and health care needs although knowing that it was to be a non-hands-on experience. Since he fully retired giving up his affiliation with the School, I have rotated through at least half-a-dozen dentists, but none has come close to the touch of his gentle hands and his approach to the discipline which had his full dedication. He loved the School that taught and trained him and his joining the faculty and contributing in the training of students was his way of a giving back, in his own selfless way. Yes, as long as I have known him he was selfless and always sharing with others, with his family, with his family and some worthy causes such as the Lions Club of Chinatown. Because of him at one time I became a member of the same club for many years, so that one member privately queried about my intent since I did not live in Chinatown, I did not answer but in my mind it was because of Paul. I\Paul as everyone knows served his Country through the Army and was once stationed in Leyte, Philippines and jokingly told me that the Commander of his base would not allow him to leave the premises by himself because the natives may mistake him for the enemy. He said that with a smile. Each year he proudly marched along with his surviving brethren who were diminishing in count each year. Yes, he loved his country and showed it and was very proud of his years of service.

A very famous author who passed away in 2012 asked, is Death important? He appeared to have answered his own question. He said it is not but what happened before death was important. So it is with Paul. He was blest with a celebrated long life, a very fruitful life and along the way touched the lives of countless people whether through his friendship and care for others or in his of art of Dental practice. Paul is said to come from a humble beginning, and he continued to live his life humbly without ostentation, without fanfare but in his own tacit way he gave his sincere best, his friendship to everyone who sought it and I am lucky and proud recipient of this goodness, the kindness that he exuded to each one of us.

As friends, one commonality we shared was a glass of scotch, or maybe two glasses on other many occasions. At a more recent conversation, when we talked about the good old day I asked him, whether he still imbibes routinely his favorite drink. He said more “infrequently now” and I asked why and he replied because he was “running of drinking partners,” and we bought laughed.

Through the years, from time to time we shared some trips to San Francisco and Las Vegas. In San Francisco, I remember visiting with him an Aunt, but I also remembered that bought ourselves our own Wente Brothers bottles of wine, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay which we paired with some dungeness crabs and oysters and feasted on it as if we had a picnic. On one visit to Las Vegas, this was before we knew the comps and freebies that casinos doled out to entice players happened at the Stardust Casino, now defunct but which was extremely memorable. So memorable and so unique was the experience, that I devoted a whole chapter of this experience in my book on craps and Feng Shui. In those even at some big casinos the minimum bet was three dollars at the craps tables, which now is unheard of, a minimum of three dollars at the craps table? I remember when it was Paul’s turn to roll the dice he held the dice and rolled the number 8, which was not his point, 19 times. The entire table went wild when this was happening and there were two habitués, elderly men who had an original bet of three dollars, and when Paul finally rolled a 7 each had a stock of $600 chips each on the 8 which was not even his point. This defied all the laws of averages 19 8s without making the point. On each subsequent trip, I carefully reminded Paul that this may be the trip that he will break his own record. He tried, we tried, but fortune did not smile on us twice. It was never duplicated.

So while we grieve the departure of Paul, and we certainly will him, his template if duplicated will take a while like the 19 8s that he threw at a craps table; let us therefore, cherish some of the happy and beautiful memories that he left behind, for each and every one of us. To paraphrase another very famous author, my favorite, “Good night Sweet Prince. May a flight of angels take thee to thine eternal resting place.”

Wilfrido M. Sy, MD
April 16, 2015