|Weekenders on the steps of the Met. Photo: JH.|
|Howard Gittis died in his sleep on Sunday night at his apartment in Manhattan. It was discovered Monday morning when he didn’t respond to his driver’s calls. They had to break in. He had died in bed.
Howard had a rich full life peopled by several who had great affection for and even loved him. Although he was not a famous man, he was one of those individuals who was very very well known among the rich and prominent as well as the restaurateurs, the brokers, the tailors, the bankers, the lawyers and the media. He was popular. He was very accessible.
I didn’t know him well but he had a manner of easy intimacy in his day-to-day acquaintances which made him easy to jest or shmooze with. He was businesslike in his affability but there was a natural warmth to it. I always imagined he was a very dependable friend. I believe he was also known to be very dependable to Mr. Perelman. Loyal.
He was not a tall man, and of portly girth although brisk in gait. He wore glasses, was fairly balding, maybe about seventy. Although his face in repose was serious -- and I don’t doubt he could be stern (or more) -- he was quick to smile for those he was greeting. Outside of his business interests he was no stranger to laughter, and a good time. It was here that perhaps Howard Gittis most revealed himself, and confounded others.
|There were several women in his life. It was somewhat complex, known to quite a few but never seeming to intrude on the moment in his presence. At the time of his death, he had been married and divorced at least twice. His first wife was mother of his grown children. About fifteen years ago, divorced, he was involved with a woman who believed they would marry.
Then, on a day when they were to leave on a European trip, Howard didn’t show up. She called his office and learned nothing of his whereabouts. The next day she called every concierge Howard knew in Europe. She still had no idea. Finally she got a call from Howard: he was in Venice and had just got married.
He also continued to have a relationship with the young mother of his child whom he supported generously. The child was reported in the New York Post to be recognized in her father’s will. Evidently this came as a bit of a surprise to some members of Howard’s family. Several years ago he also took up with another young woman in Palm Beach where he had a house. This became an ongoing relationship. About three years ago, it was said that Howard and his wife Lynette divorced, although they continued to live together like man and wife, especially on their fabulous estate in Southampton.
On Sunday night Howard had dinner with one of the women in his life. He went right home by himself afterwards, however, feeling a little under the weather.
Howard was most likely a rich man. There’s speculation going on already about The Will. It would seem that Howard was the kind of man who would take care of all of those for whom he had love and affection. However, Wills have strange often incomprehensible effects on the human psyche -- not only of the deceased but of the heirs. Whatever happens, Howard will be missed, genuinely missed -- by not only his family and his loves and his business colleagues, but by many people in the community who benefited from his generous friendship and his company.