Remembering a World War II vet — my father, David Werman

The World

Marco Werman's father David Werman in England in 1943.

My father was in the 376th US flight squadron, and supported the D-Day invasion of Normandy from the bases in England.

When the order came that the invasion was on, his commanding officer told him and his company, "This is it, send your wives home" — that's one of my dad's standout memories of the war.

I don't know why wives were on the base. I never asked Dad.

And now I can't.

You may have noticed I was away the last few days. I took off for New York City to be with him since he's been pretty frail lately.

He died Tuesday morning.

David Werman was a great guy.

You get a small dose of him whenever you hear me, I can assure you.

He loved politics and music. He was a psychoanalyst, and actually gave me one of the best pieces of advice when interviewing people: "Keep the questions brief."

The best answers, he said, come when you just sort of nudge the door open a bit with your foot, and let them walk all the way in.

I hope I (mostly) follow that advice.

He was 92. He died of cancer.

But after a rich 92 years, I guess you can say he died of old age — very little suffering, in his bed, in his sleep, in the city where he was born, New York.

My dad travelled a lot in his life. He knew Europe — West and East, quite well. He knew the Mideast and had been to Africa once — and he loved Mexico.

David Werman photo in US military

David Werman as a young man.

And it was funny to see the world come to his doorsteps in Manhattan in the last days of his life.

The doormen in his apartment building — from all over the place — loved him. 

Tai, who's from the West Indies, wrote my sister and me: "From the first day we met," he said, "I knew Doc was no ordinary man. He was full of life, joy and laughter."

That is definitely true — was definitely true.

So let me thank you doormen, Tai, and Jose, Asif, and Ron, and anyone else I may have neglected.

And let me thank Mona, the hospice nurse from Nepal; and Ana, Dad's housekeeper from Colombia, who wanted a few minutes alone to pray with his body before she left his apartment; and Helene, his piano teacher from France who had to find out from the doormen when she came for Dad's lesson on Tuesday — I'm so sorry we couldn't reach you sooner; and the waiter from Mexico at the diner down the block; and everybody else who helped out this 90-something guy in recent years.

Thank you all for coming to New York, and thank you for the friendship you found with my dad.