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David Podell

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PODELL, David On Friday (June 27, 2008), David Podell lost his eight year battle with Myelodysplasia, a bone marrow disease that he refused to let keep him from living his life to its fullest. Despite the progression of the disease and its inevitable conclusion David continued to work full-time as a Paramedic for Hunter's Ambulance and devote his non-working hours to keeping Hebron's residents safe and alive as the town's EMS Captain. David was a "sui generis," a truly unique mensch with many talents, a great sense of humor, far-left political views, and a love of gadgets, from his antique Mini-Cooper to any and all mechanical toys. He was passionate about long-distance bicycle riding and counted his annual treks to RAGBRAI in Iowa with his son, Adam, as one of the greatest pleasures of his life. He was compassionate with his patients, generous and loyal to his friends, a loving husband, father, brother and son and was respected and admired by all who had the good fortune to know him. Born in Milwaukee, WI, David met the love of his life, his wife Judy, when he came as a handsome, trouble-making 12-year old to the Walden School in New York City. Judy was 13, an older woman, as he liked to remind her. They married in 1967 and settled with their two boys Danny and Adam, first in Aurora, IL, where David worked as a Product Designer for American Can Company after earning a Bachelor of Industrial Design degree from Pratt Institute in New York City. The family moved back east to their first home in Montclair, NJ when David accepted a position designing educational toys for Childcraft. David started his own business, Penultima, after Judy saved $2,000; enough to pay their mortgage and live for six months. The business flourished and David spent the next 35 years designing and building prototypes, trade show exhibits and products for point-of-purchase display companies and major corporations such as Congoleum, Revlon, Biotherm, WaterPik, Cannon Towels, Wal-Mart, Elizabeth Arden, Clairol, Qwest, Esprit and Brown & Williamson. As one client claimed, David had "Golden Hands" and could make and repair almost anything, which he did, usually at Judy's request: furniture, fountains, lighting fixtures, kitchens, fish ponds and recycling streams, custom window shades, a chicken coop (or more accurately, a four-star chicken hotel), he created clever and beautiful solutions to thousands of daily events and problems that turned every home the couple owned into a thing of beauty. David became an EMT shortly after the couple moved to Hebron in 1989. He became a Paramedic after 9/11, where the experience of working on the site of the World Trade Center convinced him to change careers in order to do something "useful." And useful he was, as can be attested to by the hundreds of people he helped both as a volunteer in Hebron and in his paid career. His impact in Hebron, a town he loved, can be seen in the celebration stone wall that he conceived. The curbstones that bear the names of 300 people is his legacy, as he spent hundreds of hours painstakingly adding the names to the stones. In addition to his wife, Judy, he will be missed and mourned by his immediate family, his sons Daniel Podell of Seattle, WA, Adam Podell of Riverdale, NJ; his mother, Sophie Rosner of Montclair, NJ; his step-brother David Rosner and wife, Kathy, of New York City, his step-sister, Adrienne Rosner of Montclair, NJ; as well as many other family members and a host of dear friends near and far, especially Brett Thompson of Hartford, Fay Mackey of Macungie, PA, and Irving Hopkins of Mystic. The family will sit Shiva, the traditional Jewish mourning period, and welcomes visits from friends daily after 4 p.m. from Sunday, June 29 through Sunday, July 6 at the Podell home in Hebron. A celebration of David's life is planned for the near future. In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution in his memory either to the Hebron Fire Department's Emergency Medical Service (Hebron Volunteer Fire Dept., P.O.Box 911, Hebron, CT 06248) or the Myelodysplasia Foundation (www.aamds.org).

Published in The Hartford Courant from June 28 to June 29, 2008
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