Barry Gelman spent the final years of his life fighting off one health scare after another, but never allowed them to get him down, showing grace and courage and making a lot of friends along the way.
His stepdaughter Kim Curran remembered when he underwent a liver transplant in 2011 and then endured several complications while recovering.
“Many times we thought, ‘Oh my God, this is going to be it,’” she said. “But he said he had nine lives. He kept coming back. Every time we thought something was going to happen, he fought it and came back from it. He was definitely a fighter.”
Mr. Gelman, 66, who lived in the city’s Wissinoming section, died Thursday, May 14, at Jeanes Hospital from complications related to the coronavirus.
A graduate of Fels High School, he worked as a young man with his father selling Phillies and Eagles novelties at Veterans Stadium. He was a longtime employee of Peerless Pest Control, serving before his retirement as a manager of a West Philadelphia store.
Curran said her mother, Donna, and stepfather loved going to Las Vegas. They were married there and returned several times to celebrate their anniversary. They also went on many cruises, “one of their favorite things to do,” she said.
However, the last three years of his life had been especially challenging, beginning with a heart problem.
“After that incident, that’s when he went into kidney failure, and he was on dialysis since that time,” Curran said. “He just had one thing after another come and hit him, and he always came back and he always fought. He took care of himself, and he took care of my mom.”
He entered the Roosevelt Rehabilitation & Health Center in the fall of 2017 and became a popular resident, running the snack shop in the building.
“My mom used to joke with him and say he was the mayor,” Curran said. “He would talk to everybody all the time. He very easily made friends. He gave Wawa gift cards to all the nurses at Christmastime."
In addition to his stepdaughter and wife, Mr. Gelman is survived by daughter Wendy, son Randy, stepdaughter Jessica, four grandchildren, and former wife Oscarine.