December 9, 2022

By Arthur H. Gunther III

     Your younger sibling should not pass before you do, though my brother Craig William Gunther always appeared as the older one. He was handsome with blond hair and blue eyes, a different look in a family of brown tops and eyes. He was a fine athlete in high school baseball and afterward. He was outgoing, friendly and a female magnet, with girls picking him up at the house for dates.

     In life, he proved to be a top splicer then manager at the old New York Telephone Co., later Verizon. He helped raise a family of two sons and a daughter and was as a grandfather – almost a father – to six, attending sports games and being there for every major activity and grandfatherly talk.

     His middle name was to be his first, in honor of William Lyons, our mother Patricia’s brother, later lost at sea. But my father wanted a different name, and the parents could not agree. He walked into the bathroom, noticed toothpaste labeled “Craig Martin,” and asked our mom if that was OK. It became family legend.

     We were as different as could be. I was the more serious fellow, a day-dreamer who had to take the road not traveled. Popularity was Craig’s natural suit, and he received that with humility. People thought we were cousins, not brothers.

     Life progressed from our close family in which our parents, raised in the Great Depression, worked themselves to the bone for our futures. Craig and I each would make the same mistake of not appreciating that in the moment. Yet, when our mom and dad became grandparents, then aged, whatever values they instilled rose, especially from Craig, who was my father’s sports and race track companion after our mother passed from dementia. 

     Life has gone too quickly in the shared existence between Craig and me. We did not do enough things together in our youth and early adulthood, though when retirement came for both, the early family bond forged in Spring Valley, N.Y., was renewed. 

     Craig’s passing was difficult and lengthy after autoimmune illnesses that baffled doctors. A good and caring person should not have that fate, though my brother believed no one should.

     In his final days just finished, there were signs his mother and father were with him as he began to disappear from this life. Someday, they will call for me, too, and Craig and I will be the Gunther Boys once again.

The writer is a retired newspaperman.