We are all so saddened at the loss of Gary...the Wombat family
lives on in celebration of Gary's legacy...we will love and
celebrate Gary until the last Wombat note is played and sung...
We miss Gary's gracious, caring demeanor, his humor, and his
enthusiasm for life, art, and, of course, music. The last gig the
band played with Gary was in St. Louis at a fundraiser for the
Wellness Community, a support center for people living with
cancer and their loved ones. Gary was always cheerful,
considerate and kind, and his spirit continues to be an inspiring
and joyful light for all of us in the Wombat Family.
Kristen and Steve
We met at Wesleyan in 1961, became fraternity brothers and quickly
also became brothers in Gary and The Wombats. I have no idea how
many thousand hours we spent playing music together. Like most
brothers we laughed together, partied together, quarreled at times;
we drew apart as life took us in different directions and, like many
brothers, as we aged we drew closer.
During these last 10 years when The Wombats would convene for a
gig he gave us his usual leadership and directions, but also was
amenable to change and new approaches that he would not have
embraced when we all were younger and more stubborn. In recent
years he did not always have the stamina to perform at his best but
he always gave it everything he had.
Gary was one of the few people I have known that actually had
charisma. Men and women were equally entranced by him, drawn by
a strong magnetism he quietly radiated. Gary was, and will always
be to me, Gary of Gary and The Wombats--my brother in music and
my great and dear friend, sorely missed.
I met Gary the same night I met my husband Brooke. I would take
the bus from Long Island to Middletown, CT and attend the party
where the band was playing that weekend. I was often alone during
their performances and even during the breaks when Brooke was off
getting something to eat. Often there would be some guy who had
a little too much to drink and being alone I made a logical target
for his advances. Any and every time the situation became
uncomfortable I would turn and find Gary standing beside me...and
the guy would fade away.
Gary was always aware of the needs of his friends and I am truly
fortunate to have been one.
Judy Jones, Wombette
wife of Brooke Jones
After all the stories I had heard I couldn't wait to finally meet
Famous Gary, which I did when the band played for Dick & Fred's
100th Birthday Party, the gig that started the "Wombat World Tour
Renaissance". That weekend began 15 years of friendship with one
of the most charistmatic, enigmatic and special people I'll ever
know. I came to feel that Gary was a brother-in-law to me and I
loved him very much. He always wanted to create special times for
those he loved, whether it was music, a good dinner, or, in our
case, even more special wedding memories. His generosity of heart
and spirit were immense.
Carol McKeen, Wombette
wife of John Dunton
What I really treasure are the memories of the late night meals in
our kitchen in Rye after a Wombat gig. The troops would roll in
around 2 or 3 AM--ravenous. Sporting his signature quirky, impish
half-grin, Gary would poke under pot lids, waving wafts of steam
toward his nose, peek in the oven with a hearty inhale. Then he'd
pile his plate high and perch on a kitchen stool and be his usual
charming self. He was fun to cook for. Informed by years of
hands-on restaurant management and his annual forays to Lake
Cuomo and beyond he was adept at kitchen
conversation--inquiring about ingredients, methods, recipes,
making a suggestion or two.
But mostly he just ate. For a passionate cook that is high
praise--and he understood that. The next morning we usually had
a big breakfast out on the deck. His appetite revived, Gary would
polish off another piled high plate. Then he'd rock back in his
chair, fold his hands behind his head, survey the table fuol of
Wombats and Wombettes--and smile.
Beth Adams Smith, Wombette
wife of Richard Smith