He never met a stranger

Gary Heidal told the nurses taking care of him at Deaconess Hospital, “When I get out of here, I’m going to buy you all dinner.”

He did not live to keep that promise – although his family made good on it. His death on Jan. 18, following a brief but grave illness, came far too soon for 82-year-old Gary.

“He was supposed to die at age 102, mowing his lawn,” said his daughter, Karen. “Not from this stupid COVID.”

Born in Tacoma, Gary moved with his family to Massena, New York, in 1953 as a teenager. He served in the Air Force as a jet mechanic, including in Vietnam.

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