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Letter: Phil Rizzo: easy to miss, hard to emulate

Posted: November 16, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 


There are men who, like shooting stars, light up the night sky and brighten other men’s lives with their fleeting but comforting radiance. The analogy, for me, has special relevance.

Phil Rizzo and I met only twice. Distance, conflicting schedules and creeping old age made it difficult for us to see each other.

So we spoke on the phone, often at first, sporadically when his health began to decline and I recognized in his voice the weariness and reconciled stoicism of a dying man.

Phil was a gentleman and a gentle man. In a world of discord, his was a voice of conciliation, of hope, of optimism. He saw the world not with distrust or bitterness but with compassion and forbearance. He knew the darkness in men’s hearts, but he exhorted them to nobler deeds.

His columns, viewed against the background of mockery, invectives and the ugly rants they elicited among some readers, were paradigms of clarity, humanity and self-effacement — uncommon virtues in a world torn by inflexible dogmas and the politics of hatred.

A fellow New Yorker and a kindred soul, Phil made me feel safer in my own skin. Sharing a few moments of intimacy with him was nothing short of therapeutic.

I shall forever think of him as an angel of peace. He will be easy to miss, hard to emulate. Farewell, dear friend.

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