We mourn the passing of Gary Antonoff beyond the long list of his contributions to Denver and to the Jewish community in Denver. And the list is long indeed.
He was critical in the annexation of land for DIA, an achievement overshadowed by the take-it-for-granted status of our world-class airport and our regional economic driver. For years it was far from clear that DIA would even be built. Opposition was persistent. Gary Antonoff was one of the leaders who made DIA happen.
That’s the problem with a list of his achievements: they summarize an enormous amount of work, time, skill and patience that Gary Antonoff brought to the effort. Surely that also applies to his role in bringing Major League baseball to Denver, a project that took even longer than the approval and construction of DIA. Before that, Antonoff was instrumental in bringing the NBA to Denver, but don’t get the idea that it was only sports and big public projects that attracted Antonoff’s attention. All of the blue-ribbon Jewish community organizations benefited from his leadership: Rose Medical Center, National Jewish, JCC, Allied, ADL and others. So did CU, including its Leeds School of Business.
As we say, it was not just the list. It is the loss of the person whom we mourn. Gary Antonoff knew how to be a friend, how to be welcoming, how to be a mensch. His professional success in real estate development did not go to his head; his leadership in philanthropy did not separate him from the small donor. Gary Antonoff’s passing is a loss felt by all strata of society in and out of the Jewish community.
Just like it is easy to take such mega-projects as DIA for granted, it is sometimes easy to take fine character for granted. Gary Antonoff set a high standard in menschlichkeit. May his memory be a blessing.
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