Newspaper veteran Pedro Abigantus died today from complications during heart surgery at Broward General Medical Center. Abigantus retired from his job as community news editor for the Miami Herald's Broward edition in 2000 due to heart problems. He was 44.
Abigantus began working for the now-defunct Hollywood Sun-Tattler in 1983 and also worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Antonio Light and Chicago Sun-Times. He was in the Herald's pages just for a few month ago. Not for any journalistic pursuit, but for buying children's beds for a family in need. Abigantus is quoted in the story: "This is the way it's supposed to be, neighbors helping neighbors."
That's truly the way he lived his life, friends say.
"Pedro was the happiest person I know," says Julie Kay, Miami bureau chief for the National Law Journal and president of the South Florida Society of Professional Journalists. "He was always smiling, despite his being in and out of hospitals constantly. He loved his beautiful wife, his family, food, his friends, and politics. He and I were on opposite sides, his being a staunch Republican, and we would fight. But you could not stay mad at him. His heart was huge."
In the comments below, friend Tim Harmon, managing editor of the South Bend Tribune, says that Abigantus wrote this line in an email prior to the surgery: "And, please, continue to handle this newspaper industry debacle with grace and dignity."
That's something I think we all need to hear. Below is the email Abigantus sent friends regarding the surgery, which involved repair of his pacemaker. [UPDATED: And below that is information regarding the funeral.]
From: PAabigantus@aol.com [mailto:PAabigantus@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 12:15 AM
Subject: PA having surgery
Family and friends:
The Lord provided many blessings in 2008, including good health and a new-found sense of spiritual peace. It was the first year since 2001 that I avoided a hospital stay.
In fact, I lost 64 pounds in nine months and felt physically strong.
Unfortunately, 2009 has brought a challenge. My heart is stable, but the wires in the pacemaker are fracturing and the wires and devise need changing. I have had wire and pacer changes before. This is different. They must surgically remove all the wires (leads), not just switch or add. This is a complex procedure, which can last six to nine hours -- more or less.
The procedure is scheduled for Jan. 14 at Broward General in Fort Lauderdale . Because of the complexity of the procedure, there is a possibility it could turn into open heart surgery. Hopefully, we can avoid all those pitfalls. I am asking for your prayers and positive thoughts. I am confident all will go well as always.
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After the surgery, I will be in ICU and unavailable to visitors for a day or two. ... I welcome you to encourage and show your love and enthusiasm to my family. I know how nerve-wracking this can be on the loved ones.
I look forward to speaking with you once we overcome this latest challenge.
I appreciate the love and friendship all of you have demonstrated through the years.
Services for Pedro's viewing, visitation, and committal services will
Boyd's Funeral Homes located at 6400 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Fl
33024. Their contact # is 954-989-9900.
Visitation: Sunday (1/18) at 2 pm through Monday (1/19) at noon.
Funeral Services: Monday, beginning at noon.
To elaborate: The viewing will begin at 2 pm, and go through the
afternoon, evening, and night. On Sunday evening at 7 pm there will be
a Prayer Service. Then while the viewing goes through the entire night,
on Monday at noon a formal Funeral Service will be conducted.
Thereafter, we will go in procession to Hollywood Memorial Gardens for
final Committal Services.