For the last decade Gary Schwartz has served you a drink somewhere. As an anchor during the opening of Gilbert’s and later on becoming a beloved part of the Blake’s on the Park family, most of the community has been lucky enough to sip one of Gary’s cocktails at one time or another (whether you knew it or not).
Gary was animated (especially when singing Christina Aguilera’s What a Girl Wants) behind the bar. His no bullshit personality would call your ass out in a heartbeat if what you were doing was wrong. His infectious smile and energy spread like wildfire whenever he talked to someone. Remember the movie Pay it Forward? I swear sometimes that film was based upon Gary’s life. But Gary had a deep dark secret . . . he loved Mandy Moore.
I remember the first time I met Gary in 2007. I was working behind the bar at Joe’s on Juniper and Gary came to play keno. I became his good luck charm as Gary always seemed to win when I was around. It wasn’t until this week I realized that it was me who was the winner having known this man for five years.
Gary touched all of our lives in different ways. Whether you were the bartender he played keno with or you were invited to the rooftop parties during the Green concerts in Piedmont Park or you were just lucky enough to be considered a friend, his reach was inescapable.
Gary always joked about dying young; it was like he knew it was going to happen. So as we sort through our feelings and sift through our grief, I’m taking comfort in the fact that I’m pretty sure he’s smiling down on us (laughing) saying I told you so.
Gary, you were a special light in the lives of everyone who got to know you. While we are saddened by your tragic passing, we are also emboldened by the way you lived your life. You will be remembered.
Celebration of life will be held Friday February 3, 2012 a Gilbert’s Cafe and Bar from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. The celebration of life is followed by an 80′s celebration of Gary’s life at Blake’s on the Park.