To those who knew Pete Libman, it's no exaggeration to say that he truly cared about people, listened to their concerns and made them feel special.
It was a view expressed by family, former Hofstra University colleagues and a former student, who wrote publicly about the impact Libman had on her while she attended the university. Libman was dean of students for seven years until he resigned for health reasons this past summer.
He died Saturday of pancreatic cancer at his parents' home in Lake Worth, Florida. He was 51. Libman, who lived in Hempstead with his wife and children, brought his family together for a vacation last week at his parents' home, said his sister, Michele Libman.
"He wanted his whole family to be together," including flying in several in-laws who lived in Colombia, she said.
His wife, Evelin, added tearfully, "My husband was unique."
Barbara Libman called her son a "very selfless person who would do anything to help other people."
Flags on campus were lowered Monday, and will remain so until Thursday, to honor Libman.
"Pete Libman was extraordinarily dedicated to the well-being and growth of young people in general, and Hofstra students in particular," Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz said in a statement.
Michele Libman, a physician who resides in Palm City, Florida, said her brother "didn't know it was the end," as he was planning the family gathering.
"But he'd been battling pancreatic cancer for the past 16 months, and in the past month his health was declining," she said. "He was just trying to create memories. He got discharged from the hospital and came straight to the airport. That's how determined he was to be here."
Peter J. Libman grew up in Baldwin, graduating from Baldwin High School in 1981. He earned a bachelor's degree at Syracuse University and a master's degree in education at Clemson University.
Before coming to Hofstra in May 2007, he had student affairs positions at Columbia University, Barnard College, Clemson and the School of American Ballet.
Norman Libman, Pete Libman's father, said his son affected the lives of many students.
One was Emily Miethner, a 2010 Hofstra graduate, who wrote a blog post over the weekend paying tribute to Libman.
"Thinking of Pete made me realize how rare it is to find someone who truly cares, believes in people, and is an example of how you can really change lives by listening and hearing people out," Miethner wrote.
Pete Libman helped raise funds for pancreatic cancer research, leading a team called "Pete's Pride," which the university said raised $15,000 for the 2013 Lustgarten Pancreatic Walk at Jones Beach.
In addition to his parents, wife and sister, Libman's survivors include four children: Vanessa Varela of Forest Hills, Queens, Miguel Varela and Milena and Jayden Libman, all of Hempstead; brother-in-law Robert Gluckman of Palm City; an aunt and uncle, Phyllis and Ed Libman of Delray Beach, Florida; and several nieces and nephews.
A funeral for Libman is set for Wednesday at noon at the Star of David Memorial Chapel in West Babylon. Burial is to follow at Mount Ararat Cemetery in East Farmingdale. Hofstra plans a campus celebration of his life and legacy on Nov. 1.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Pete's Pride Walk for the Lustgarten Foundation or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.