When my father, David Lev, died at age 68 in 1985, I made phone calls to tell family and friends. To my surprise, they told me things about him I never knew.

I learned that he ran errands for his older neighbors in Brooklyn and drove people to the various community centers where he spent his days after my mom passed away. I learned he was great at pinochle.

Weeks after his funeral, I received a phone call from a woman looking for “Dave.” The woman told me she was a member of Weight Watchers. Some of the members hadn’t seen my dad in a few weeks and were worried. She told me that his encouraging words made the group smile, and he made members feel better after a disappointing weigh-in.

These stories of his impact on other people helped me through a difficult time and made me proud to be his son.

My father grew up in Brooklyn and was the middle of seven. He was a high school graduate and worked at the Brooklyn Army Terminal as an accounting clerk. He liked the crossword puzzles in TV Guide, which is probably why he was good at Scrabble. He clipped coupons and mailed them to family in other parts of the country.

I remember fondly how he would express innocence when caught in an honest mistake. We lived in an elevator apartment building on the fifth floor. My dad had suffered a minor stroke and used a cane for stairs and long walks. From our apartment window, I watched one evening as he parked the car and crossed four lanes of traffic, although he’d left his cane hanging on the car door handle. When he came into the apartment, I asked where his cane was. I walked him to the window, and he just stared at his cane hanging from the car door. He looked around as if the cane on the car belonged to someone else.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

My dad was comfortable talking to anyone, a trait I inherited. Years ago, I was working as an assistant to the producers of a Broadway musical. My dad was my guest on opening night. At the after-party at a restaurant, I stepped away, leaving him at the buffet. Then one of the actresses from the show scolded me for not introducing my father to her. My dad had been approaching cast members saying, “Hi, I’m Howard’s father” and telling them, including the show’s star, Celeste Holm, how much he enjoyed the show. I found him with some of the cast, telling stories. At my opening night, he was the center of attention.

Another touching moment stands out. I was living with my parents when my mom died in 1977. I was an only child, in my early 20s. One day, unexpectedly, my dad asked me whether he was a good father. I assured him he was. What else would a son say to the man who was afraid of the water yet taught me to swim? Or to the man who told me there would be another show and another job after a Broadway production I was working on suddenly closed?

He taught me to have compassion, to be patient, to have faith and a sense of humor.

He was my example of what it takes to be a loving husband and a caring father who puts his family first.

Reader Howard Lev lives in East Meadow.