Remembering Evan Lieberman

Rabbi David Greenberg

…Even as so many will mourn his passing throughout their lives, let us also be grateful for what Evan gave to so many; and for all that can never be taken from us. He was kind, caring, dedicated to worthy pursuits, a dear friend to so many, etc… Amidst tragedy and pain, people tried to give this family the gifts of their hearts and souls. Let it not take such tragedies for us to reach one another. Yes, people die, and we lose something of ourselves when he is one whom we cherish. But love need never die, nor the blessings that will always be Evan’s life.

 

The Lieberman Family

From Ben and Debbie Lieberman, July 20th, 2011, in an excerpt from a eulogy at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford: 

Thank you all. The community became a support network that did so much.  On June 16th,   our lives were changed.  Evan was given a 10% chance to live through his third operation of the day. When he made it through that operation he was upgraded to 15% to make it through the night. By sunrise, Evan was still there and my brother Gary, Bill Madden and Brooksie were all there with us as well. That was the start of an army.  We weren’t done yet…

When word got out that Evan might need a liver transplant we were flooded with help. Besides valuable medical advice, Dr. Mark Kronenfeld had the head of Mt. Sinai call our doctor and got us set up there if needed… Brian Richmand had the head of Cornell Medical calling for regular updates. Russell, Lori, Jill, Debby: where do we stop this list of thank yous?

Having nurses like Kathleen calling on her day off for updates and Samantha texting us lab numbers meant so much… Your confidence kept us going and we believe Evan as well. We’ve never met a doctor like Francis Baccay. We never met a doctor that cared about his patient and their family like Dr. Baccay. There was no question too stupid and never a discussion rushed… Thank you, my friend; you showed us a Herculean effort…. Evan, as a father, I regret one thing so much. I used to lecture you on working hard to create your own opportunities. I lectured that there is no such thing as bad luck because the harder you work, the luckier you get. Yet, no one can ever tell me that losing your life while you were wearing your seatbelt in the backseat while going to work in the morning isn’t the worst luck in the world. You did nothing wrong and I wish we could’ve protected you from this.

Jamie, Evan and Rachel on the day of Evan's Bar Mitzvah. “The kids were enjoying the day and each other,” said Bill Madden, a dear family friend

Evan, we will miss you everyday. I can’t help thinking of when as a baby the only thing that could get you to sleep was lying on top of me and letting the rhythm of my heartbeat put you to sleep. I’ll never forget watching you play ball, grabbing rim and you trying to teach me x-box. Of course there was your relentless negotiations but in the end you were always helpful to your mother in anything she ever needed and such a gentleman about it. Also, how will I ever watch a tasteless comedy without thinking of you? It was so appropriate that just before this accident you pinched hit for my old ass in a softball game and smoked a hit up the middle. Your Dawg career was under way. Our time with you was brief, way too short. The last month was so cruel and I know you were in pain, but we are so grateful for that time. Thank you for staying around long enough to hold my hand, have mom sing to you and see you give your mother and sisters sweet kisses at night. The fight you showed was so inspiring and the tenderness so unforgettable. We love you so much pal. We can’t believe how fragile everything is but amazed at how precious this time was.

-Ben and Debbie Lieberman

Rachel Lieberman, Evan’s youngest sister:

Dear Evay,

Evan and Rachel

….Everybody in life was born for a reason Evan, and your reason Evay was to be the most amazing boy I know. You would always be there for me. When I had trouble at camp, you wrote me a letter from my long lost cousin saying things that made me sit on my bed and cry from laughter and I’ll never forget that letter that made me have a moment of happiness. Evay, I apologize to you for all the little things that I did to you that weren’t the nicest that have stuck in my head till this day, when I made you sit at the end of the table at my birthday party, when I dipped the pretzels in the hummus, the times when I told you to get out of my room, and when I went on my teen tour and missed being with you in the hospital, I apologize for that because those moments make me look back and feel bad, but when I think of the good times Evay like riding in your car listening to your music that I secretly loved to listen to and would go back and download on my computer, playing games with you for hours and hours, making Evina with her pretty little tutu and so much more. Evay I love you more then anything in the entire world and I can’t put that down in words but you can see it now in my more then half empty heart Evay. And right now I’m sitting here trying to think and do my favorite quote. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. And Evay I have to smile at the amazing life that you did have and achieved and conquered…

Jamie Lieberman, Evan’s sister:

Evan and Jamie

…Evan was more than a big brother. He was a role model, a best friend, and I know he will always be there for me. I could always look up to him. The one who taught me how to be strong, how to stand up for myself, and most of all how to be a caring person. I can’t help but envy him for his strength and I don’t know anyone who could’ve fought for as long and hard as he did. Evan and I shared a unique sense of humor. We laughed at all the same things, even when no one else did. I watched him take care of my little sister and I always knew how lucky we were to have him in our lives. He was compassionate and determined and though he only lived for nineteen years, he accomplished more than anyone in the world could. I always knew how brave he was when I skied behind him down every mountain, followed him to sleep away camp, and watched him bumper tube off the back of a boat. Evan is my inspiration, he’s the reason people tell me I am so brave it’s all thanks to him. Just like he held my hand on every roller coaster, he’ll hold my hand for the rest of my life and make me feel as safe as I always felt when I was around him. The long talks we always had, the endless laughter’s, and the ongoing and meaningless fights won’t stop here. My parents always told me that as the years go on we would become closer, and they were right. With him gone, I know my family and I will stick together and everything will be okay because that’s what he would have wanted. Evan’s arms were always wide open for anyone who needed it. So, together we need to open our arms for each other, just like Evan would have…

Lori Fishman-Maitland and Russell Maitland

Russell and I have watched Evan grow up right next door to us from the time he was a happy-go-lucky 7-year-old boy all the way through to his return from college this past summer. Evan: smart, funny, cool, warm, kind, respectful, generous, a son to be proud of, an amazing big brother, a dedicated and loyal friend.  But for my two boys, Michael now age 11 and Matthew now age 9, Evan was THE BEST BABY SITTER EVER! Evan started watching my boys over five years ago. We’d come home: the boys were fed, read to and in bed; the house was organized; and he was channel surfing or doing homework. My boys looked up to Evan for the latest fashion or the coolest music. When Debbie would drop off a bag of Evan’s out-grown clothing, my boys would fight over who was getting what! Evan could have handed down a pixie fairy ballet dance tutu in bright pink and if it came from Evan, my boys were shooting rock/paper/scissor to see who got first dibs! Evan never got too old to hang with my boys. He always treated them like they were extra special to him. It was a relationship to be envied. He was an incredible young man. I hope that my boys continue to grow and emulate those values that Evan Lieberman genuinely embodied…

Rick Birdoff

Though he left us way too early Evan’s good natured, warm and endearing personality will continue to be in all our hearts and souls.  As evidenced by how the Chappaqua community galvanized around the Lieberman family it is clear that Evan had a profound impact on those that knew him. We will forever be inspired by his incredible strength and courage.

Harvey Offman

…When Evan was in the fifth grade, Ben, who was coaching the grade’s travel basketball team, invited me to check the boys out and potentially help some with their game…they were shooting around, warming up, and having fun…I looked for Evan and I saw him in the back part of the gym, shooting around and joking with his ‘bruthas’: big smile on his face…. But I thought, geez, he’s kinda small compared to the other kids. Finally, Ben called the

boys to play against each other, run some drills, and scrimmage. What I then learned about Evan Lieberman has stayed with me forever. Evan was playing with wreckless abandon, great defense…and doing whatever it takes to win…

Fast forward to a 7th grade football game, Bell vs. Seven Bridges…lo and behold, Evan was playing quarterback. Again I thought to myself, this poor kid is going to get crushed….WRONG AGAIN…his ‘do whatever it takes’ attitude made him a star that day. From taking on a Ben Berkey hit, he rose up from the ground, dusted himself off, to play defense on the next play…. (Following the accident) Evan once again, showed courage, no fear, and a ‘do what- ever it takes attitude’. Evan fought as hard as anyone could, and so did the Liebermans. Not only did the Liebermans raise a child who was funny, good-natured, bright, and hard working, they should be most proud of his courage…

Jim Schiekofer

Evan was just a great kid who absolutely loved sports. I met Evan through Ben and Debbie while our daughters competed in gymnastics at World Cup almost 10 years ago. Ben invited me to play softball for “The Dawg’s” team and that’s where I got to know Evan. I watched him grow on the field, always participating in practice and keeping the book during games. Once he graduated HGHS, it was his turn to be a “Dawg.” He played with a great sense of pride. He loved the camaraderie, the ribbing and the trivia that was discussed. He had a sharp wit like his dad. He was a son to the team and we will miss him!

Dr. Francis Baccay, Attending Trauma Surgeon, Westchester Medical Center

It started as a terrible, inexplicable accident whereby Evan did nothing wrong and progressively it became a painfully numbing situation that ended in an empty hollow conclusion.  In the brief moments in the Westchester Medical Center Emergency Room, Evan was courageous and above all polite when I informed him that he needed emergency surgery.  Evan responded, “thank you for trying to make the pain go away.”  I was pleasantly taken back by the young man’s demeanor. When I first met Debbie, then Ben, I knew instantly where Evan had gotten his gentle mannerism and inner strength.

There was no question that Evan’s accident was every parent’s worst nightmare come true, but throughout Evan’s hospitalization, Debbie and Ben were always encouraging, loving and above all, strong in the face of tremendous adversity.  There were never any self-pity or anger.  After meeting their two daughters, it was so easy to see that this was a family in the truest sense.  Their friends outpouring of affection and support only solidified how strong of a family the Liebermans truly were and will be. During Evan’s hospitalization, my oldest son had suffered a concussion and a broken nose and was also treated at the Medical Center, Ben and Debbie were the first ones to offer their help in watching my other children; all this with Evan on life support.  I can’t begin to say how much inspiration I drew from Debbie and Ben during this sad time.  If I’m ever in such a terrible position, I will always drew strength from my moments with the Lieberman family. I was not alone at the Medical Center in hoping that Evan’s fate weren’t different.  I have been at the Medical Center since 1993, I have never experienced such a universal sadness from the entire staff. I am sorry our lives had to cross in this manner, but I am not sorry to have met the Liebermans. I feel truly fortunate to call them friends.

Billy McGuire

When Evan got a chance to play catcher while his father pitched during one of the Dawgs’ softball games, Evan would encour- age his father in the same way that Ben would cheer for Evan. He was a good kid in the purest sense of the term…

Ben Shapiro

…Evan loved being on the Dawgs and whether he realized it or not he was a huge part of the team. As most people in Chappaqua know, playing softball is much less about who wins or loses and much more about the relationships you have with your teammates and nights spent at the local bar. That is, until the first pitch is thrown, when all those niceties go out the window and all that matters is who wins and who gets a hit. So in that spirit I guess my favorite thing about Evan was earlier this year, where he stepped into the box and smoked one up the middle for his first hit. That night (when we took a few minutes off from making fun of each other) we sat across the table from him and celebrated his hit, as he had celebrated ours for years and years as a younger Dawg-to-be.

Thomas D.P. Stern

As I saw the wiffle ball fly over my head toward left field, I knew it was gone. I knew that Billy Sadik-Khan had blasted my pitch– making it look like child’s play. I knew it would end up in the bushes at Mt. Kisco Park. I also knew that the 5’11’’ athlete who stood in center field would do everything he could to make the catch and save Richie Giner and me from losing the game.

As Billy started to round the bases, I saw Evan sprinting towards the ball. I also knew that the catch was going to be made–because I knew, as well as everyone else did, that Evan had our back, just as he always did. Rounding second base, Billy stopped and stared: Evan was trying to pull himself out of the thorn bush where he had caught Billy’s ball. As Evan gathered himself with his usual swagger and his Cheshire-cat-grin that had grown all too familiar, I looked on in amazement. You see, Evan came through on the field that day just as he had for as long as I’d known him, whether on or off the field. Whether it was being the first to volunteer to sleep on the ground when there weren’t enough beds at a sleepover, or going to see a terrible movie because one of us was in a bad mood and needed company, he was a constant in each of our lives: he was always there.

Tom Lowell
As the longest reigning Dirty ‘Ol Dawg, I have to say that Evan brought not only youth but an amazing level of energy & enthusiasm to the team. He was always there at practices, even when there were only 2 other guys there. He was always upbeat & as much of a wise-ass as his Dad and any other member of our team, so he fit in perfectly! He will always be a part of the Dawgs and will be sorely missed!

Vinnie Groppa
I not only had the pleasure of being his teammate during softball but had the opportunity to coach him in basketball. My fondest memory includes his zest for sports and a proud father on the sidelines. Evan was playing defense and had the opportunity to reject the opponents shot. The best part was the facial grimace and the hurricane like noise that followed It was as if he had won the NBA championship. And the icing on the cake was Ben’s smile from ear to ear…

Judy, Bob, Sam, Alex and Lara Fuhrer

We will always remember Evan’s smile and his spirit. He was so happy surrounded by family and friends. We cherish the memories of the times we spent together, especially our week in Jamaica and Super Bowl Sundays. Evan lives in our hearts and in our memories…

Billy Sadik-Kahn with Best Friends Richie Giner, Jr. and Jack Zandi:

Left to right: Jack Zandi, Tom Stern, Billy Sadik-Kahn and Evan on the day of the Greeley 2010 prom

I speak for all of Evan’s friends when I say we grieve not for regret or our time spent, but for the loss of what might have been. Reflection of our time together conjures memory after memory of Evan helping out. Never in one profound dramatic gesture, just week in week out from the moment we became friends, Evan was always there. This past year when I, with the Middlebury College football team, traveled to play Trinity, which is about 25 minutes from UConn, I invited Evan to watch the game. He had an away Frisbee tournament that day, but he still offered to take a bus to the game, which was attended by less than 150 people and played in frigid weather, just to watch me sit on the sideline.

Evan’s love for his friends may be trumped by his love of sport. He played dodge ball with us during every available free period for our first three years at Greeley. His senior year he opted to take two gym classes in one semester, the only person in our grade to do so. He was too short to play basketball, too small for football…but it was impossible to discourage him. If you put Evan in Richie’s body, you would have a two-sport college athlete. For Evan, playing sports wasn’t about getting accolades. He played sports so that he could spend time with his friends. That’s why he played dodge ball during his free periods, took extra gym classes, and played Frisbee after school…he loved being with people.

A group of Evan’s friends arrived at his home on July 29 with foreman Jimmy Kostulas with a present for the Liebermans: A wheelbarrow that Evan apparently enjoyed! Said Jimmy: “Only you with your smiling face could make this a restful place to have lunch in or take a nap. In these ways we remember how you made all those around you smile. Memories of you will always be cherished.”

 

 

 

Joey Magardino

…When you were in the hospi- tal, you showed great courage. You were one to never back down, and that showed throughout the past few weeks. I could tell where you got your strength after seeing how your family responded to this tragedy…. You have taught me how fragile life is and to value every second that I have…I’ll never forget you. I miss you.

Danny Diorio

I worked with Evan over the summer and was one of the passengers in the car that crashed on June 16th… and sustained minor injuries in the accident. I just wanted to say that I didn’t know Evan that well and had just met him last summer…but he proved  to be one of the nicest, most genuine and pure kids I had ever met..I hope the best for his family in coping with their loss.

Cyrus Eshghi
I’m going to be a senior at Pace University in the fall. I worked with Evan for a couple summers in a row. During this time we spent countless hours working, debating sports, and sharing stories. We became friends quickly. Even though I was older I learned a lot from him, I’m thankful for having Evan as a friend in my life. I’ll never forget him or his family.

Bill Madden, Close Friend:

I’m angry, really angry. We appear today in this house of God without any possible explanations.  We shouldn’t be here today. How could something like this happen to such a wonderful family? There is no lesson to be learned today, nothing to take away from this incredibly tragic event. There is no moral to this story. No teenage antics to blame, no drugs nor alcohol, nothing for us parents to point a finger at and warn a child: “see, if you do that this will happen to you”. Absolutely nothing here to teach our children that may help protect them from this horror. This death is about as senseless as anything can be. Its will forever remain the story of the young college boy who went to work with his friends one morning and never came back home.

Our beloved Evan, that witty, kind, generous boy who loved his parents and his sisters Rachel and Jamie, and his dog Kobe so very much. He spent his brief 19 years in a warm home surrounded by love, caring and above all humor.

This was a house of laughter…the type of home that was everybody’s home, family, friend or stranger, all were always welcome. Every community has one, you know, that family that keeps their doors always open to all, the house where the kids just seem to col- lect, where adults just drop by on a whim and stay for the rest of the day or evening. Where you want to be to watch the Superbowl, because you know there’ll be lots of people there having fun, cheering for their team or just for the bizarre bets Ben would conjure up for everybody to make: Maybe you’ll get lucky and win a few bucks so you can tease the rest of the room. Everyone has fun, especially the non-sports fans and the little ones. That’s the house everyone wants to be at for stuff like this, and Evan was always right in the middle of the antics, holding court with his buddies and making fun of any opportunity that presented itself. So much laughter, so much love.

Bill and Evan jet skiing

“In tears we saw you sinking
And watched you fade away,
Our hearts were almost broken
We wanted you to stay.
But when we saw you sleeping
So peaceful, free from pain,

How could we wish you back with us,

To suffer that again.
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you didn’t go alone
For part of us went with you
The day God took you home.”
Bill Madden

Jill Madden, Close Friend:

Jill and Evan skiing

The Liebermans are part of my family. When I met them 14 years ago, we became fast friends and grew close very quickly. The children shortly became a big part of our lives. With Bill and I both having families that were scattered around the country, we began spending holidays together–religious or otherwise, as well as at least one to two vacations a year with them. Evan always loved hanging with the guys–all three, Bill, Ben and Evan–got their first tattoos together (henna, that is!), and I have photos to commemorate that day. As Evan got a little older, we watched him take an interest in girls. During a trip to Cancun, I remember Evan sitting at the end of the table watching and listening to the girls conversation like he was watching a tennis match. It was quite a funny sight. After years of trying, Bill and I finally had a little girl of our own., and it didn’t take long for Jacki to fall in love with Evan. She was barely one when she crawled over to the bottom of the staircase in a ski lodge we were renting calling: “Ev, Ev”…one of her very first words. It was the cutest thing, something we laughed about for years that her first words could be Evan.

But we’re not laughing now. We’re thinking back with great pain in our hearts to all the ways we will remember Evan: The sweet boy who had grown into the nice young man. The college student who was just beginning to go out into the world. The loving son. The older brother. The person to which his friends could depend on. The young man whose life was ended much too abruptly. Evan,we love you and we will miss you forever.

Further Donations in Memory of Evan Lieberman

Many in the community have asked about making a donation in memory of Evan Lieberman. The Liebermans appreciate your kindness and have asked that all donations be made to the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Foundation. The hospital is aware that any and all donations made in Evan’s name will go directly to the Trauma Center. To make a gift online, go Please click here. On the bottom of the page there is a section to fill out “tribute information” with regard to the gift. Please make sure that you enter “Evan Lieberman” on the name box. In addition, it is very important to Debbie and Ben to be able to thank each of you for all your support and for your donation. Consequently, the family is asking that you check the box located at the bottom of the page requesting that they be informed of the donation. Amounts of donations are not disclosed. The hospital has a strict policy that if this box is not checked they cannot include your name as a donor. Donations can also be made by mail. If you prefer to send a check please write “Evan Lieberman/OK to inform family” in the memo portion. It can be mailed to:

Children’s Hospital Foundation 100 Woods Road, Taylor Pavilion- suite C3 • Valhalla, NY 10595

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