After a long struggle with complications resulting from surgery to remove a growth over his kidney, my good friend Barry Becher passed away this afternoon. I heard that Lisa, Kim, and Leslie were by him, and he was comfortable. I will, we all will miss him terribly. He was friends with many, enemy of none, a devoted father, husband, grandfather, friend, a good man. I have known him for over 30 years, we shared common interests of computers and technology and we enjoyed each others’ company. In fact, last March he came up to Rhode Island to see his grandchildren, and told me that he missed me. It is now my turn, I will miss him, every day, a lot, …
Whenever he came up to Rhode Island he would spare some time so that we could have lunch at Walt’s Roast Beef and go visit Best Buy, or a similar store where we would look at new technology products. Often times lately we would walk out without buying anything, nothing was new, nothing was exciting. Then we would talk about the good old days of computing when new and exciting things would pop up very often. He would call me to tell me that he got a new board that would double the speed of his computer. I would go to his house and we would put the stuff together, all the while marveling at the new gizmo. He wanted to be the first one to try a new technology, that was his hobby.
He loved baseball, watching it, playing it (when he could), baseball camps, and talking about it. He started taking me to the Paw Socks games, not that I understood the game but I enjoyed being there with all the families, fans, and with my friend Barry. He would get privileged treatment since he knew the people there, so we would go to the field level to have hot-dogs and fries. Soggy fries but who cared… He used to talk about Brooklyn Dodgers of his youth and his idol Duke Snyder and how he connected with him. As luck would have it, even I met Duke when they visited with Barry in Rhode Island. There was a parents’ day at Pilgrim High School where our daughters used to go, Barry invited Duke and his wife. They were sitting at one of the tables and he waved us to join them. We did.
He loved flying, his own planes at one time, lately following interesting flights, space shuttle, the Concorde, The Black Bird SR-71 among many others. I learned about these flying machines from him. A few years back, when he was in Rhode Island Barry wanted to fly again and asked me if I would like to go with him. Why not! We went to the old airport and he chartered a plane from Horizon Aviation. Since he had not flown for so long we had to get a trainer with us. Barry was a bit surprised how easy flying had become with GPS, other digital gizmos, better communications, and so on. With minimal instructions, he easily took off from T. F. Greene Airport in Warwick and we flew to Martha’s Vineyard. I was sitting in the back and taking photographs. We had a quick lunch at the airport cafeteria and while we were eating Barry asked me to discreetly look to see who was sitting at the table behind me; Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney! On the way out I asked if I could take a photograph of them and Cronkite said in his deep voice “that’s fine by me!” I snapped his and Andy Rooney’s photographs. We took off and returned to Warwick, Barry flying all the way to MV, landing there, taking off, and landing in Warwick. He truly enjoyed flying the plane, I enjoyed seeing him to do so and the scenery outside. Here are a few moments from that day.
We used to stay up late, really late either at his house or at my house, playing with the new gadgets, trying a new software, playing a new game. As time reached 2 or 3 in the morning, we would get silly tired and start laughing at the most trivial thing and keep laughing until tears started rolling from our eyes. Then one of us would drive home of course, to repeat the same in a few days, with the same level of involvement and enjoyment.
Barry would tell me about his buddies when they were growing up. I got to know many of them quite well before I even met them. Later, I had the joy of meeting some, Ed, Lew, Joel, Norm later on and enjoyed the genuine friendship they all shared. Barry loved every one of them, like his brother, they returned the same, so years of friendship continued. He would tell me about the dinner they had “last week” and how they reminisced about the old days. I know how he must have felt from when I see my old friends, especially in old surroundings, home towns. It is like time-travel, as if one goes back to the 50s and the 60s. For Barry, it was much easier since he never cut his time-ties to those days. I can still hear him humming “Why must I be-eeee a teenager in love …” In a way we should all be jealous of his ability to continue to live in the past, present, and the future. Forever teenager, forever getting excited about the next new thing, forever looking forward to what tomorrow may bring. He did that well, very well.
As I said, I will miss him, miss him a lot. My sadness is for not having him with me, perhaps a bit selfish. But, my sadness turns to joy as I celebrate his life, having known him, and having spent a lot of time with him. Of all my memories of Barry, his passing is the only sad one. We never had a fight, we never hurt each other. When we saw the conversation was getting dull, we would split to meet the next day or the day after. Surely by then, there would be something interesting. To all who loved him, think about the great times you had with Barry. Miss him for sure, but don’t let your mourning take away from your celebrating his life. He would have liked that.
Farewell Barry! Tears are rolling, but I am at peace. I know you will be.