I  R  A  G  O  L  L  O  B  I  N  .  C  O  M
The  Truth About Ira Gollobin as a Father and Grandfather

 Son-in-Law Speaks

Face of Abuse


My Speech About My Dad


Below is the complete text of the speech I wrote to give at the Ethical Culture Society in New York City on July  19, 2008 at a Memorial Service for my father, Ira Gollobin.  This is the speech that my sister, Ruth Gollobin-Basta did not want anyone to hear . . .


Hi, everyone.

Thank you - all of you - for being here.  And thank you Ruth for putting this memorial together. 

I'm Ira Gollobin's other daughter, and I'm not much of a public speaker, so I may need your help.

I'm also in an unusually difficult position - which I'll tell you about - so please bear with me - and let me speak until I am finished.  I have a story about my Dad that must be told.

Let me start by saying that I loved my father, loved my mother too, and I was so glad that my father  - after my mother's death - remarried.  I would never have wished for him - or for Ruth - to grow old, alone.

I loved my father.  I have some very good childhood memories of time spent with him - and my sister:  rowing a boat on the lake at Central Park, feeding pigeons at Bryant Park, learning to swim in Rockaway, and picking blueberries where he ate more standing there at the shrubs than he ever carried home.  And I have memories of happy moments between my Mom and Dad while I was growing up.  These memories - and many other memories of my father - will always make me smile.

And then, I have memories of him - while I was growing up - that were less warm: 

My father over and over coming home from the office so stressed, so tense that we all had to tiptoe around him. 

My father - dogmatic and so totally convinced of the rightness of his views - that it was hard to even think a different opinion, let alone voice it and have a reasonable discussion. 

My father writing his book for 25 years or so with my mother typing and retyping and increasingly exasperated with him because my father's work, meal requirements, exercise schedule, and writing his book all came first - and until she was dying of cancer, he wouldn't stop to spend much time with her, wouldn't travel with her (so she finally had to travel by herself).

It took my mother dying to, temporarily, change him - where his work and his interests didn't - most every day - come first.

These memories are not warm, but they're accurate and a part of his life story too.

And as we memorialize him, I for one want to remember him accurately - not to make him larger than life where the myth replaces the man.
My father  - and my mother - were not "conventional" people.  They were not Hallmark cards people.  And in my comments here before you, I am going to be their daughter - and I hope you'll understand.

That said, my father was so important to me.  I look like him.  And I looked up to him.  And in very significant ways, I am very much like him - and a part of his legacy. 

As you know, he was a person who chose a line of work where he could help people.  (I expect several of you today will speak about this.)  Like my father, I too chose a line of work where I could help people.  I founded a non-profit organization - 36 years ago - which I continue to direct.  And I work state-wide and in multi-states - to help thousands of children and families.  I work with and have been supported by 3 Attorneys General, foundations, and corporations.  And I collaborate with state agencies and many community organizations to do wonderful projects that helps lots of people - like my father did.

I know my father was self-motivated, persistent, determined, and dedicated to his work - as am I.

My father - like my mother - donated to causes that help people in need and worked probono to help many people - as do I.

He was a quiet person, an introvert - and in that way too, we understood each other because we were so similar.

My father was a reader and loved books.  My husband, daughter, and I have a home filled with thousands of books - we're all readers.  And I actively promote children's literacy nationally, give away thousands of kids' books, and maintain a children's resource library of over ten thousand books. Reading was important to my father - and is to me too.

Another thing worth mentioning - my father was never racist. He was open to all cultures.  And I learned that from him and my mother - and made use of this when, among other things, I was chosen to establish the U.N. child care center with a Board of Directors from 26 countries.

How else were we similar?  My father - who had good genes - wanted to live long and be healthy and active - and I'm so glad he was.  He worked hard to take care of himself - as do I - eating right and exercising each day.  Health was important to him, and it is to me too.  In fact, my work includes creating a state-wide health project for families and seniors.

In so many ways that matter, I'm like him.  But in some significant ways, I have chosen to learn from his limits so I can be different from him:

For decades, my father didn't make his family important enough.  I told you about my Mom and how, until she was dying of cancer, his work and interests just about always came first.  I watched him do the same thing with his wife, Ruth, for years.

When I gave birth, I was turning 40 years old.  He was turning 80 years old and didn't find the time to see his grandchild for 9 months because he was busy with work.  

For years, I begged him to visit more, but he was always working - going to his office all day, every day, even into his 90s - thinking he was indispensable. 

I've made very different choices with my husband and my daughter - balancing meaningful work with a lot of family time - and making my family very important, the way I wish he had.

Among other things, my father missed out on really knowing my daughter - his granddaughter, who is now almost 18. 

She's like my Dad in a lot of ways.  She reads a lot, she writes.  She's hard-working, organized, responsible, and honest.  She wants to help people - with fitness and nutrition - my father's big thing.  

By the way, she started college - at 14 years old - and has maintained a straight A - 4.0 Grade Point Average.  


Unlike his sister, Bea, and brother, Bill, who spent time with their grandchildren (and were generous and giving with them), my father never once even invited his granddaughter to come visit - and he needed to be reminded of her birthday. I think he took pride in her, but he didn't make time for her.  I believe work is important, but so is the next generation.

Another fundamental difference has to do with humility.  In the obituary that my sister wrote for my father, she said he was humble.  I agree he could seem humble, but, with all due respect, he was anything but humble.  A few years before he died, I had a remarkable, revealing conversation with him about the book he wrote.  He told me that he believed his book - after he died - would change the world and be recognized as one of the three greatest books ever written, ranking in importance with the Bible.  I'm sorry, but he was not humble. 

In contrast to his quiet, gentle, and charming demeanor, privately, he held a very high opinion of himself - believed his opinions were right and rarely - if ever - would admit to a mistake or say "Sorry."   And he went to great lengths to arrange his personal and professional life to receive constant affirmation, appreciation - and, yes, adoration.

That said, he was my father - and he, like all of us, was human and imperfect. 

He was my father, and I loved him.   

He was my father, and I cared about him, loved him, bragged to others about him, and wanted more time with him.

Although I moved South about 20 years ago, for most of those 20 years, we spoke by phone virtually every day - long conversations, very gratifying, warm conversations - we spoke each day at length and he called them "visits."

I loved my father.  He mattered to me.  And I told him that all the time.  And whenever he'd visit I'd wait on him hand and foot.  There was almost nothing I wouldn't do for him.

And up to a few years ago, we had a very close relationship.  

We had a very close relationship. And my husband and I did whatever we could to make him and his wife, Ruth, feel welcome.  (Here are Ruth and my father at our property relaxing by the pool while I cook dinner)

And among other things, several years ago, we offered to care for them in old age -
and in ill health - should they want or need this - either in our home or next door  to us on a property we own (see photo, right).  Our offer to take care of them was a loving offer - and it was made with our eyes open to what it could and would involve.

Unfortunately, after a lifetime of closeness, my father a few years ago suddenly started acting very differently with me.  

My father, I believe, was influenced by my sister - who was on the scene helping him, giving him constant flattery, lobbying him about her needs, and I believe passing on some serious "misinformation."

My father became suspicious of me.  

He started wrongly believing, based on something I think my sister, Ruth Gollobin-Basta (photo, left), said to him (which I only recently learned) that my husband and I secretly planned to put him in a nursing home. This was never true, and his mistrust was completely undeserved - and very distressing to me after a lifetime of loving him and feeling such closeness with him.

That said, my father did assure me on several occasions - in person, by phone, and in writing - that he would - when he died - treat my sister and me equally with his estate:

That we would share equally the value of the apartment which my Mom and he got back in the 1950s where my sister and I grew up,

That we would share equally the things in the apartment which included things of my mother's and things which came from both sides of the family,

And my father assured me that he would also treat my sister and me equally with the money he had in the bank.

Well, having been raised by my mother and father where equality was preached and practiced - including within our family in terms of my sister and me - I counted on this and believed him.  And I thought it was right.

But after he died, I was given a copy of his will.  I found out that my father left a few thousand dollars to 2 organizations.  And that my father left ALL of the rest - about a million dollars of assets - ALL to my sister . . . and nothing, NOTHING to me.  Nothing to my husband who's a good man.  Nothing to our daughter who is one of Ira Gollobin's three grandchildren - and the grandchild who happens to carry on his genes, that part of the Gollobin legacy, along with a lot of his traits and values - which she has - and which I have.     

He turned his back on me, my husband, and our daughter - a person any grandfather should be proud of and care about.  He even said in his will that if my sister predeceased him, he'd give EVERYTHING to my sister's children for THEIR education, weddings, and first home purchases.

What he did is shocking, very painful, and very wrong.

My father, who publicly professed fighting injustice and fighting inequality - in his final act - chose to create inequality and create injustice.

And he has made it impossible to simply remember the good times and his good points.

Please understand that I'm not here to damage his legacy.  He damaged his legacy.

I stand before you, having loved my father and having been betrayed by my father.  I'll let you imagine the pain.  Imagine knowing that your father, who you dearly loved, lied to you and chose to hurt you at the end of his life - and to harm you and your family in every way he could - emotionally and financially.

So today, I am the whistleblower - a role my parents always said was important in society.  I am the messenger with some bad news - and wise people don't blame the messenger.  And I am the victim - not a role I enjoy.

I am also one of two daughters who loved him.  And I am the daughter who will keep carrying on his values helping thousands of people - and who will give credit where credit's due.

I want you to know that I have asked my sister several times to help right this wrong which my father did at the end of his life - and to share my mother's and father's estate - and her response has been silence - which is quite a loud answer.  The only thing that she has shared with me are some of my mother's and father's ashes.

I believe in equality.  And if my father had done this to her and her family - no matter what I thought of my sister - I would have immediately righted this wrong and given her and her family half. She and her husband deserve that.  And their children - my father's grandchildren - deserve that too.

I hope my sister will finally do the right thing.  But if she doesn't, she will be perpetuating the worst of my father's legacy - and dishonoring what my mother and father all their lives said they stood for.

I don't want to end on a bad note - even though my father did.

I want to end by thanking you so much for listening.

And I want you to know that I am truly glad for each of you who were helped by my father - as I was, at times.

I am truly glad for each of you who learned something from him - as I did.

And I am truly glad for all of you who enjoyed him - as I did for many, many years.

In closing, I  stand before you - damaged - HONORING my mother and father by refusing to be silenced, being brave, standing up for principles of equality and justice - and speaking the truth.


Thank you for reading my speech.  This is the speech my sister, her two children, and a few other people stopped me from fully delivering at my father's Memorial Service.

At this Memorial Service, my sister distributed a sizeable "memorial book" which she compiled and had printed for the occasion.  It's full of wonderful photos and contributed essays from a wide range of people who knew my father.  

I am not in that book.

Why? Because my sister never told me that there was going to be such a publication. She never asked me (or my husband or our daughter) to write anything about him.

This is just one more example of the way my sister has treated me over the years in a continuing effort to misrepresent my love and caring for my father. I believe my sister had a significant hand in persuading my father to do what he did to me and my family at the end of his life. That said, it was still my father's doing . . . 


Face of Abuse

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