RIP: Earl Kanter, MD
Love Never Dies
December 23, 1921 – June 23, 2013
After a long and painful battle with Parkinson’s disease, my father passed away peacefully this week. While I feel a profound sense of loss, what gives me comfort is that I had a remarkable father in so many ways. I’m left with one final life lesson from him: love never dies. His spirit, intelligence, joy of life, sense of humor, and wisdom will always be with me and our family.
My father had a deep-seated love of the ocean and was a life guard for 15 years for the Ventnor City Beach Patrol. He was a swimmer in college and high school and was an accomplished competitive swimmer. This honed his appetite for frolicking in the hurricane swells that sweep the ocean in late summer. He introduced surfing to the Jersey Shore in the 1960’s – He was an early adopter, teaching himself how to surf and owned the first Greg Noll surfboard. In an article about his surfing in the local newspaper, he said, “I like the thrill of riding a large waves – it’s like climbing Mount Everest.”
To honor my Dad’s memory and his love of the ocean, I am raising money for Surfrider Foundation in his memory to support their ocean conservation efforts. We will also adopt the beach at Brunswick Avenue in his memory.
My love for my Dad will never die. And his love for ocean will live on through the work of Surfrider Foundation.
Please donate to SurfRider Foundation in his memory.
Tribute to My Dad
He loved my Mom, his four children, and 7 grandchildren dearly. When he was almost 80, he and my mother accompanied my husband and I to Cambodia to adopt our first child, Harry. He gave Harry his first bath and soothed him by holding him and dancing around singing “I’m Just Wild About Harry” that I captured my first digital camera. Our family was blessed by an elder monk who asked my father his age and bowed to him when he learned my Dad was older.
My father was an OB-GYN in Margate, NJ for many years. He brought much joy to many families by delivering their babies. He was known for his compassion, awesome bedside manner, humor and always there for his patients. He taught me his strong work ethic, giving back, and that job is not just a job but can be a calling.
I feel lucky to have been able to spend a few weeks with him this month towards the end of his life, although my mother and sister have done all the heavy lifting for his care during the past couple of years. He told me to go back to California and not to neglect my family or work.
He chose OB medical specialty because he wanted an area of medicine that was joyful and happy – despite the long and unpredictable hours. He was an early adopter of wearing “beeper technology” in the late 60’s. Our family nick-named the beeper “ruin the day machine” because whenever it beeped it meant that he had to drop everything and rush to the hospital to deliver a baby.
When I was 5 years old, I asked him “Where do babies come from?” He pulled out a medical film strip and his Bell and Howe projector and gave me a detailed scientific lecture to answer the question. I remember taking notes and drawings. Later I shared my learning with the neighborhood kids which prompted phone calls to my parents.
He loved gadgets and technology, especially computers, cameras, and the Internet. His first computer was an Apple IIE in 1980. He was an early adopter of SKYPE. One of my most memorable Skype calls was when I had forgot to turn switch off SKYPE during a presentation to health care nonprofits about social media in 2007. Participants, who were in the 60s and 70s were protesting they were “too old,” when my Dad’s SKYPE profile showed up on the screen. I told them that my Dad was almost 90 and if he can use the Internet, they can too!
Even at age 90, he was wanted to learn new computer tricks and was open to “reverse” mentoring from his grandson, Harry. During his last month, I entertained him by showing him how to ask Siri silly questions. He suggested an updated plot for Twilight Zone episode “The Long Distance Call” where a young boy talks to his deceased grandmother on a toy phone. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Distance_Call) We laughed together as I said I could always reach him through Siri.
The last good photo we took together was as “selfie,” although in 1963 we took one together using his Minox camera.
He was interested in my work used to say, “My daughter the blogger.” He wanted to learn how to blog. He started his own blog, although short-lived, called “My Name Is Earl” Here a series of videos of the conversations we had about learning how to blog.
Two weeks ago, I got to share with him the news that my second book, made the finals of the Terry McAdam award.
I’m metabolizing my grief my doing this online fundraiser in his memory to raise money for ocean conservation for SurfRider Foundation as well as do a virtual paddle out via Twitter hashtag #OceanLoveEarl on July 3rd. We will adopt the beach where he surfed in his name.
I will be taking a short break from blogging except for reminders about the virtual paddle out and fundraiser. At some point, I will share with you some lessons learned about online fundraising, hope you will help me celebrate my father’s memory.