The voicemail took me by surprise. After all, the woman was inquiring about a series I did- on our newscasts- over 3 decades ago!
Funny thing is- I remembered it instantly! It is one of those memories that remain for a lifetime.
Emlyn Gurman Altman was about 10 years old at the time. I practically invaded her family’s lives for a week- in 1981- as we featured her father, Gene Gurman, in a series on heart attacks. We profiled the changes he had made in his life since having a heart attack. We watched him prepare a healthy salad- in his kitchen- to take to work at Xerox. We shared his exercise regimen at the JCC; we documented all the steps he was taking to prevent another heart attack- including giving up his smoking habit of two packs a day! It wasn’t easy, but he was doing it. I remember Gene telling me it was his most difficult adjustment; he would still dream of smoking- and wake-up to realize he could not light one up!
We featured Gene in a three-part series on Eyewitness News in February of 1981. The purpose was to share his story—to help others survive. How shocking it was to report—in July of that very same year- that Gene Gurman had died of a heart attack. It was, indeed, a sad moment to share with our viewers. Emlyn’s Mom would die within the next year, and I often wondered how that little fifth grader, who played the violin, was doing- in later life.
Well, now I know. Emlyn is now about the same age as her father was- when we did those news reports. She vaguely recalled the series we did. She even remembers holding a small microphone up to the television to record the audio on a cassette. She reached out to the Toastmaster’s Club at Xerox to see if her father may have been a member during the 70’s. When corresponding with one of the members, Emlyn inquired if he knew a newsperson by the name of “Don Allen.” He gave her my name- and that’s how we re-connected.