Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lennie Guttman, 1976-2012

While any loss is deeply felt and sincerely mourned, some are more so than most due to their circumstances. Such circumstances are twofold in the untimely death of Lennie Guttman: the shockingly violent nature of his death, as well as his special stature in our close-knit community.

Known to nearly everyone in Willow Cove, Lennie was a bear of a man, always ready with a smile and a big, meaty handshake. It was nearly impossible to shake that hand and not recall that glorious spring of 1995 when Lennie Guttman and his powerful right arm led the Cougars to the first and only state championship in baseball.

But even those, few and far between as they may be, who were unfamiliar with Lennie’s sporting achievements of that inimitable season know him anyway. They may know him from Guttman’s Gutters, the bowling alley he founded and operated that has become something of an ad hoc community center always open to all, or from Burgers Fries Pop or Tom’s Place, two other local businesses he held almost as nearly and dearly to his heart as the one he owned himself, or from the unspoken but widely known fact that if you ever needed anything, Lennie would help. He wouldn’t pry, he wouldn’t preach, and he would always help. That was Lennie Guttman.

Lennie leaves behind his wife, Marcie, and their two children, Jack (17) and Becky (15). As deeply as we all feel his loss, it goes without saying that none of us can comprehend the profound devastation currently being felt by the Guttman family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this incomprehensible time, and we hope that the entire community joins us in offering them all the support and anything at all they should need in the coming days, weeks, months, and even years.

Given the violent nature of the crime and the investigation just getting underway, viewing and funeral arrangements are currently unavailable. It may be some time before we are all afforded the opportunity to pay our respects to Lennie Guttman—father, husband, baseball hero, community leader, good neighbor, great friend, outstanding man.


  1. For all his faults (and let's not kid ourselves, Lennie had a few -- a true friend can acknowledge that), at heart Lennie was a truly decent man. And what a huge heart it was! He had so much love to give -- some might say too much -- and you felt it every time you were in his presence.

    March 31, 1995 is a day seared into my memory. It was a punch to the gut that yanked my life out from underneath me and changed the person that I am forever. But I knew even then that what Lennie had to say that day hurt him as much as it hurt me, if not more, and I couldn't bring myself to hold it against him forever. Eventually, my heart thawed, and I remembered the Lennie Bennie Bear I loved through all of high school and beyond. Lennie just had that kind of power over you. He was full of life and love and it radiated everywhere he went.

    This is a loss that cannot ever be truly put into words. For me personally, for the town of Willow Cove, for his wife who I know loves him, and especially for his two precious children, whose lives will never know the fullness and joy they deserve. But it's also a loss for anyone anywhere, even those who never met Lennie Guttman, who love life and live it with the joy it deserves.

  2. That was beautifully said, Trudy, and very touching. I propose we turn this article into a place for remembrance of Lennie and reflection on his life and deeds. At a time like this, I always find it helpful to think back on the times we shared, to refresh and reload them for my memory so as to have access to them for years to come. Not a day goes by when I don't recall at least one happy memory with my Thomas, and they are what keep me going.

    I first met Lennie when he was just a tyke, but a big one! He must have been just four or five, but even back then you couldn't miss him when he entered a room. He would bounce back and forth all over the room during the various charitable organization meetings I would hold in my home and which his dearly departed mother attended. There was nothing Lennie liked like a crowd. He would tell a joke here, make a funny face there, and then bound out of the room with a somersault, only to return not 30 seconds later.

    Of course, I watched his glorious baseball season of '95 with the same awe and admiration as all of Willow Cove. It had a feeling of inevitability about it. It was as if all of us were just waiting for Lennie Guttman to take his rightful place on the championship podium.

    One of Thomas' last business dealings before his health took a turn for the worse was to assist Lennie in the establishment of Guttman's Gutters, and Thomas could not have been happier or prouder to be a part of it. I hope it shall continue to stand and operate for many years to come, as a monument and testament to them both.