It’s difficult to write the story of a man like Bill Roth.
Much of what made Bill a wonderful person cannot be articulated, it can only be felt. The subtle generous and supportive nuances of his character and quiet strength of his convictions comforted and compelled every person in his life. Without the tongue of Chaucer or the pen of Shakespeare, how do you explain what makes a man great?
Bill’s oldest daughter, Lorie, has read the LRG newsletter for years, “I always pictured writing one of these for dad; now I can’t think of anything to say.”
What Lorie, Lisa and I hope to do here is not to unravel the vast mural of Bill’s life, but to paint you a single portrait of a good man.
Bill was born on May 18, 1950 and owing to a love of the beach, has spent his whole life in the Long Island area. When he was 17, he met the future love of his life, Frances. The two were married soon after he graduated from Hofstra University and went on to have two beautiful daughters, Lorie and Lisa. Bill was a wonderfully doting husband; when he got sick, it was important to him that Frances was always cared for. Around her, Bill was always smiling and he was definitely her whole life.
Bill worked as a wholesale buyer for 30 years and eventually was lucky enough to own his own company, Trade- Master Marketing services. People who did business with Bill respected him, as one man said to Lorie, “This is a tough business, but your dad always did the right thing.”
Growing up with a dad like Bill was easy for Lorie and Lisa. Bill had lost his dad to cancer when he was ten and grew up without a father-figure, but as Lorie always says, “He just knew how to be a good dad.”
“He always made us feel so good. We owe a lot of our accomplishments to our dad. He always pushed us, but in a gentle way.” Bill wanted his daughters to succeed in life and always made himself available to talk and problem solve, “It was important to him that we were self sufficient. He was so proud that it made us more proud to see his face.”
When Bill was diagnosed with GIST in January 2003, he refused to let it keep him down. “He could have a whole lot of stuff going on, but he always just cared about you.”
Bill was a family man. On the weekends, he left his business behind and devoted himself to his family and friends. He adored his sons-in-law, Jerry Cudzil, Lorie’s husband (and President of the Life Raft Group Board of Directors) and Lisa’s husband, Peter Fleming. He also loved to babysit Lorie’s children, Sean and Abigail.
He wanted to share what he loved with those around him. Last June, Bill decided to take Jerry and Sean to a car show for Father’s Day. Bill had loved cars since he was a little boy. He enjoyed the Indy500 and had taken a racing course once. He wanted to experience this with his grandson. Bill had been looking forward to it for some time and the three boys had a great day together.
Three weeks later Bill could barely walk. He had been much sicker that weekend, but no one knew. He wanted it to be special. That was just the kind of man Bill Roth was.
It seems hard for people to say just one nice thing about Bill, “He was just wonderful and very selfless. He always helped with homework, he was always full of praise and always made us and our mom feel like the most important people. He truly was a family man and an eternal optimist. He wanted everything to always be fun. He was such a good person,” Lisa says passionately.
Bill passed away on October 15, 2008. When Lisa and Lorie opened his email to begin the numbing task of notifying friends and acquaintances, she found a staggering 1,000 contacts. Immediately a rush of responses flooded her inbox with messages like, “He was a true gentle man,” and “He was the nicest person I knew.”
Quietly, Lorie says, “For a lot of people, life isn’t the same without Dad here.”
The Fifth Annual NYC Poker Tournament
On November 20, 2008, the Life Raft Group held its Fifth Annual Poker Tournament at the Midtown Loft on Fifth Avenue in New York City. It is always a remarkable evening and has become a muchlooked- forward-to event for LRG staff and supporters.
Its beginnings were simple. Lorie and Lisa ran a marathon in 2003 to raise money for the LRG in honor of their father. Jerry helped raise a lot of money for their effort. In 2004, Lorie and Lisa had no plans to run another race but Jerry still wanted to raise money. He knew many colleagues in the financial world who donated to charity and thought that a poker tournament would be a fun way for them to contribute. The poker tournament has since become a yearly success.
This year was a little different. In the midst of an American financial crisis, most non-profits have been concerned about funding. The question of whether people would want to spend their hardearned money on charitable giving was a pressing one, one that would not be answered until the day of the tournament.
That night, the LRG greeted 150 guests, over 90 of whom were players who together contributed over 63,000 dollars! Old friends and colleagues enjoyed a night of great food and serious poker in remembrance of a man who knew how to have a good time.
The Life Raft Group would like to congratulate first place winner, Joe Bonavita, who will receive a seat at the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas, Nevada (valued at $10,000). Taking home second and third place were Choudhary Yarlagadda and Dennis Lu, respectively, who each won dinner for four to famed New York City restaurants, Daniel and Nobu. Johnny Tyler won the night’s raffle for dinner for four at another famous New York restaurant, The Palm, donated by previous Poker Tournament winner, Nick Chiara.
We would like to thank Marzena from the Midtown Loft, Worldwide Events, Jerry Cudzil for his tireless dedication, and everyone who supported the event!