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Brad Batoh: Gone too soon but his memory will go on and on

Any serious golfer worth his weight in missed par putts knows that the game is a "life or death experience." Or so we try to convince ourselves. But deep down we know better. Even the great Jack Nicklaus, when talking about a close defeat, would remind the heartbroken, "Golf is just a game."

But when we need evidence about what is and isn’t important, life happens. May it never intervene as cruelly as what happened two weeks ago on as good a summer day as you can have when a beaut of a guy, barely into the heady days of his marriage to a lovely woman and the adoring papa to a baby girl who out-Gerbers all babies, was gone from this world in a horrible flash. It was at that moment when what matters most—the value of human life—stared family and friends squarely in the face. It was then that “life and death” took on the full weight of its meaning. This is a tribute to a man we didn’t get to know nearly long enough: Brad Batoh. 

It was on the night of July 30 that Brad, 33, hailed in tributes as the best-est husband, father, friend, relative and all-around helluva guy, was taken away from those of us left to feel pain and remorse over a tragic loss. Brad was at the start of a family vacation week on the Jersey Shore, near Toms River, when the unthinkable happened. After a joyous beach day with wife, Tina, baby daughter, Clara, and close family—the photo of him on my home page is from that beach day—followed by a great meal and game night, Brad complained about not feeling well and needing to get to bed. Getting up during the night to get some water, he collapsed, apparently of a heart attack. Attempts to revive him at the rental house and hospital could not be sustained.

Brad Batoh with Clara on a memorable day together.

Brad Batoh with Clara on a memorable day together.

It is said that the impact you have made in life can be measured by those who come to pay their respects to the living when you’re gone. At Brad’s visitation Aug. 4 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Trumbull, Conn., roughly 1,000 people came to comfort the family. Perhaps 300 mourners came to the funeral the next day. Rev. Ronald Froehlich did not try to make sense of something senseless, but gave us the next best thing: hope and comfort. Brad, he said, was more alive now than when he was living on earth. It choked you up to hear it, but it was a good type of emotional reflex. 

The particulars of Brad’s life are there for posterity in his death notice: Born in Bridgeport on March 7, 1984; middle name Nicholas; son of Kenneth and Debra, with a brother, Tim. Brad graduated from Stratford High School in 2002 and got a BS in education from Southern Connecticut State in ’07. He loved to play kickball and softball. After working for a wine distributor, he was the General Manager for New Castle Building Supply in Norwalk.

What the record doesn’t state is that he loved the Mets. Their annoying propensity—to non-Met fans—for achieving their rare moments of success through late-inning heroics earned them the nickname the Cardiac Kids. Dear God, we wonder, why couldn’t this Met fan have mimicked his team and had the rally of all rallies? He deserved to go into extra innings.

Instead, we focus on the other Met moniker, the more sacred-sounding and holy Miracle Mets. This is where we find Brad still alive and vital, in little daughter, Clara, who, like all of us, is a miracle, and she will be the part of Brad Batoh always with us.

A fund has been set up in Brad Batoh’s memory to the Clara Batoh Educational Scholarship Fund, c/o Milford Bank, 3651 Main St., Stratford, CT 06614 or to Sterling House, 2283 Main St., Stratford, CT 06615.

Cliff Schrock