His name never appeared in a byline or photo credit in one of our newspapers. You wouldn’t find his name in the masthead.
But for more than a decade, Seth Zuckerman was as vital as anyone in making our little operation hum.
Seth was our IT expert, the computer whiz whom we would call at all hours of the day when some odd error message popped up on our MacBook, or when the office server suddenly went on the fritz just as the print deadline fast approached.
You may not have seen his name, but you should know a little about Seth and what he meant to so many of us at Times Review Media Group who had the pleasure to work alongside him. Seth wasn’t just the IT guy we called for help, he was essentially a part of the staff and our family. There was no one quite like Seth, whose idiosyncrasies could fill a newspaper.
We lost a dear friend on Dec. 4 when Seth, surrounded by his family and close friends, died at the age of 42 from cancer. I can still remember the pit in my stomach when I learned of his diagnosis and how grim the prognosis appeared a few years ago. It didn’t seem real. And yet a few days later, Seth was back in our office, mingling as usual, working on computers as if everything was just fine.
The cancer hardly defined Seth and it won’t be how we remember him. No, there’s so much more to Seth. Over the past few days I’ve spoken to several colleagues, past and present, about him, collecting memories that I could share that would sum up just what made him special.
In short, Seth was the kind of person who always sought to bring joy to those around him. He was outgoing, always willing to strike up a conversation with anyone he met, and he had so many passions in life, from cooking to sports to video games. He was a die-hard Mets and Islanders fan. He was witty, intelligent and the king of dad jokes.
Michael Versandi, who until recently worked in our art department, knew Seth for nearly two decades. His connection to Seth was how Vee, as we call him, knew about our company and applied for a job.
They would often travel on vacations together in the same circle of friends. Vee could talk for hours about Seth.
“The overarching characteristic I would say that everyone sort of had about Seth was that he was just awkward,” Vee said. “He was clunky and awkward. He was just Seth.”
In their group of friends, Seth was known as the Awkward Bot 3000. It was like the creators of “The Big Bang Theory” modeled the character Sheldon after him.
Seth was unique in the best way possible. And you couldn’t help but love him. Even if he made you scratch your head at times, his intentions were always pure.
Here’s one example: Vee, Seth and their friends would often vacation to Key West. One time, they had all arrived at MacArthur Airport for an early morning flight. Everyone except Seth, who at the time lived in Long Beach. Time was running short and the group had to decide whether to board the plane without him. Just as they were deciding what to do, Seth came bouncing down the corridor, his luggage in one hand and a giant, bright pink gift bag in the other. He couldn’t have been calmer and began to explain to the group that he had just made a carrot cake.
“He’s like, ‘yeah, I had carrots and I didn’t want them to go bad so I made carrot cake,’ ” Vee said.
Vee, growing angrier, couldn’t understand his thought process. How could he make a carrot cake first thing in the morning?
“He said to me, without missing a beat, he’s like, ‘no I didn’t make the carrot cake this morning. I made the carrot cake last night. I made the frosting this morning.’
“Like I’m the crazy person in this situation,” Vee added.
He reached into the bag and handed Vee a piece of cake, which was divided into individually wrapped pieces.
“It was like the best carrot cake we ever had,” he said. “He didn’t make that carrot cake for anybody except us. All he wanted was to share it with us. He didn’t eat any of it.”
We were often the beneficiaries of Seth’s treats that he would bring to the office.
My fellow editor Grant Parpan recalled one time Seth stopped by his house to fix something on his computer. To be cordial, Grant offered Seth something to drink, the kind of obligatory gesture you sort of expect someone to decline.
“Well, Seth responded, ‘I’ll take a beer if you have one,’ ” Grant recalled. “And I remember he kind of hung out and we talked a bit.”
Sonja Reinholt Derr, our former director of sales and marketing, recalled how excited Seth was to come to our company Christmas party one year when it was at The All Star in Riverhead. Seth showed up with his own bowling ball and went on to dominate everyone.
“He was a presence — larger than life, full of opinions, smart as hell and really quite funny,” she said.
There was the time in Key West when Seth met his friends at a restaurant, but showed up with food from a different restaurant for himself to eat. Everyone else was more concerned about drinking and enjoying the waterfront view, but as Seth explained, the food there was crap, so he brought his own. He even asked the waitress for silverware.
Or there was the time they were at a dive bar in South Florida, the kind of place that serves Bud or Coors, and Seth proceeded to ask the bartender what type of port wine they have. Of course they didn’t have port wine and instead he got some type of red blend. And then he asked if they had food, and not just food, but something to “pair with the wine.” He proceeded to calculate which flavor of Doritos best paired with his wine.
He decided on classic flavor.
Seth was ultimately all about family. My wife, who used to work in sales here, recalled how excited Seth was to tell everyone all about Jodi, the woman he had started dating about seven years ago. In 2016, Seth posted photos on our company Facebook group of he and Jodi kissing as they got engaged. They married a few years later and became parents to their daughter, Hanah, whom Seth adored.
Seth knew his fate with cancer.
“He approached this whole thing with a reserve that I can’t even imagine,” Vee said. “The thing that bothered him most wasn’t him dying, it was the fact that he’s leaving behind his daughter and wife.”
There will be no shortage of stories for Hanah to hear all about her quirky, hilarious and kind-souled father who left a lasting impact on so many.
We will all miss him dearly.