Five Years

This morning marked five years since my dad passed. I have been struggling all day to decide what to write. It occurred to me just now that some of my most vibrant memories of him involve the relationships he formed over the years. Not only to family, but also to friends, and the friends that he considered family.

One of my favorite adjectives is ‘gregarious’. Not only is it very fun to say, but I think a very favorable trait in a person. My dad was gregarious. People love him and he loved people. I remember tagging along on the deliveries he made to hospitals and companies for work. We would walk into a company warehouse, and he would be instantly greeted as a friend by those who knew him. In my eulogy I remarked, “My dad was a businessman, but growing up I was never able to tell the difference between his business associates and friends.” He never shied away from a party or meeting new people. Even near the end of his life, he would invite dozens of friends over at once, just to chat and catch up.

I think he learned this from his father. Grandpa had an open (garage) door policy at home. Every time I visited him, people just stopped by for a beer and a laugh. After speaking with him so much, even the mailman came to my grandfather’s funeral. I think that, given the time, my dad would have come to emulate this behavior. I think one of the main reasons he put a toilet in the workshop is so he wouldn’t miss any friends driving by to just say hello.

I took a major life step this year, asking my girlfriend Shelly to marry me. She said yes and we have been a very happy couple ever since. It is an exciting time in my life. I never thought I would find a woman so thoughtful and loving, but I did. Thankfully, I think she has learned to “enjoy” the goofiness that I inherited from my father. I think my dad would probably enjoy teasing her as much as I do. When I was growing up, I swore that I wouldn’t mimic the silly things or tell the dad-jokes he loved so much. However, I have grown older and more immature with age, and I see now why he loved making my mother roll her eyes in exasperation. He certainly is winning.

Out of the many life lessons I learned from my father, one of the most important is the importance of relationships. As I get older, my network of close friends will naturally constrict. However, my father’s actions taught me that new friends are always around the corner, and old friends are always a call and a lunch away.

If you are reading this, I encourage you to take a page out of my dad’s book. Call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, just to say hello. If you are in town, meet up with them for lunch. Help spread the feeling of friendship that my father cherished so much.




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Year Four

I remember the day my dad first entrusted me to really build something with him. I must have been around 13 years old when he decided to make a headboard and shelving for my room. We were at his office (“The Shop”) cutting lumber and building the general shape and frame of the shelving. The headboard was to have two rows of shelving, with vertical partitions separating each section.

His instructions were simple: calculate where we should put the vertical pieces, then put them there. He left me to figure out what I needed: a tape measure, some wood glue, and pencil. I had spent enough time with him to know where to find these things and how to use them. Using my geometry lessons (previously thought useless), I sketched out an initial rough layout. Around 6 iterations later, I had settled on a plan. Two sections on top, three on the bottom, perfect offsets calculated, and wire holes accounted for. We cut the pieces needed and set them in the frame. Everything came out fantastic. The shelving was sturdy, was geometrically pleasant, and really tied my whole bedroom together.

What I remember most was not the end result, or even most of the grunt work putting the unit together. It was when my dad put trust in me. He never asked what I was doing, never checked my work, never complained that I was taking way too much time for a simple task. He let me figure it out on my own. When I was ready, we worked together to build what I had sketched out. If I was to make a mistake, it was my mistake to make. It was that day I first learned that I could build something on my own.

As I have ventured into riskier territory of my career, I have found myself relying on this confidence that he once helped me find. I am certainly no carpenter or structural engineer. However, I have learned how to take big, ambiguous ideas and form plans for building them. I wish my dad was here to help me through the big mistakes and help catch me when I fall. However he gave me the gift of believing in myself, and I use that every single day. I still remember the day my dad helped give me the confidence I needed to be an engineer.

I miss you dad, and hope that I can always make you proud.

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Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Dad, I shall drink some scotch tonight in honor of your big 73.

Mothers Day 05Mothers Day 05 with Mandy

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Three Years

 Today marks 3 years since my father passed away. It is remarkable how fast it has gone by, yet it still seems like eternity. When searching for memories, I find that I don’t quite remember the bad ones anymore. I am sitting here in our living room and can still see him walking around. I see him pouring a scotch. I see him making breakfast for me. I see him winding up our grandfather clock. I see him doing all the everyday things that we overlook. I choose to focus on the big happy events, but I miss the everyday normal things the most.

There was a time when I was in college that I had a crisis of uncertainty in my chosen career path. I had completed a semester that left me burnt out. We grabbed some pacifica’s and went for a harbor cruise on his boat. I told my story of burnout and uncertainty and he listened without speaking for quite some time. His advice? Do what makes you feel happy. Simply listening to my problems solved them. I think he knew what he was doing. To him, listening to people’s problems was a normal everyday occurrence, and that is what made him a great friend and confidant to many.

My goal and resolution this year is to try and become more understanding and patient with others. Patiently listening to the issues of others while understanding that the goal is not to give advice, but to simply listen. I aim to make this an everyday normal occurrence.


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Year Two

It is incredibly hard to believe that it has been 2 years. The only thing I hope to do is make you proud of what I do and how I do it. It is easier to focus on the good times these days.

I just wish you actually had some sort of system in your garage workshop, because I can’t find anything in there. I just want you to know that if you and grandpa are fighting over where the jar of mixed bolts should go, you are both wrong.

We all love you and miss you,

Der Son


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Happy Birthday Dad

I hope you are having a party up there. We all miss you.

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One Year

You left us one year ago today. Not a day goes by without me thinking of you. Sometimes I just want to tell you a joke, sometimes I need your advice, but mostly I just want to talk to you.

I hope that wherever you are, you are practicing pool because you are going to need it.

We all miss you and love you,

Your favorite son.


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Henry’s Doppelganger

Shortly after buying American Medical Sales in 1981 Henry walled into our small factory to talk to me about being a manufacturer’s representative for our small growning busniess. I never took him up on the offer and I often wonder if that was a wise decision. However we kept in contact over the years as both of us grew our businesses. He was always a “go to” person when it came to some of the areas of our industry I needed help understanding. Henery was always a gentleman and a giving individual to me and my staff.

Henry also looked at innovative ways to build his business and provide greater value to his customers. Years ago he used his connections to start building grids in Northern Mexico. From what I understand he distrupted the “natural order of things” for the higher priced American, European and Japanese makers. The funny thing is that for years, our company was black-balled from one industry buying group. Much of the reason for this was because one member had once been an exec with one of the traditional companies and always mistook me for Henry. Now it is true our businesses were always within 5 miles of each other, but we don’t look the same or have the same expertise. However, to be mistaken for the great guy Henry was, and will remain in our thoughts, is quite an honor.

May his memory be for a blessing to Donna, his family, friends and all who he touched.

Daniel Giesberg

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Henry R. Cortez’s birthday Party… Italian style….

This is a two part film we made for Henry on his birthday last years.

Part one


Part two



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From Italy with love.

We have just arrived back from a trip to learn of Henry’s loss.

After only having met him for Italy for few hours. He and Donna were so nice to make an offer to myself and Daniela my wife, stay with them in their home while we visited the USA for our Honeymoon.  Donna was away for a couple of days on business and Henry took into his arms and we will never forget how kind he was and what he did for us.  Henry didn’t only offer us at his home, he opened his heart.

He was so gentle and kind with us and we experience some of the most memorable and the best time of our lives were had while we were with Henry. My English is not that good and Daniela’s is non existent but to speak with Henry was effortless. He transcended language. Daniela had a medical emergency and was far from home and afraid. Henry made her feel comfortable and Donna stepped in and the needed medical care was taken care of. It was something that normally would have ruined the trip and our honeymoon, but Henry turned it into a good memory instead.

A bike ride to Manhattan beach,  a boat trip along the seashore of Santa Monica, a ride with his fabulous Dodge, and much more…  everything included  his enthusiasm and smiles. We have never met such a kind, giving and special man. I told Michael the other day that even before his sickness started, we spoke about Henry all the time and I mean at least once or twice a month. He was a person that is to be remembered.

Donna, Jimmy & Mandy,  we are with you, we will keep Henry in our hearts as paragon of virtue.

Marcello & Daniela from Italy




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