Sunday, September 17, 2006

Alberto Dominguez, Gentleman

(This post has been 'future dated' to hold it at the top of posts from The Thin Man Returns for the week of 11-17 September 2006. Main page viewers please scroll down for newer posts.)

A YEAR after the death of Alberto Dominguez, a Sydneysider called Georgia wrote a tribute to him on a Legacy website and signed it on behalf of all her family:

"i knew the family and i also new his son and i pay my deepest respects for the tragic accident that occured on september 11 we can not bring him back but we can give him the highest honour, above all of the evil that caused his death"
You don't have to search long to find there are many tributes online to Alberto. What makes this one different?

Georgia was only 11 years old when she wrote it on 14 September 2002.

Children today live in an age of acceleration - quick, from school to music lessons, dash home to play outside so you can hurry indoors to do your homework so you can rush to play Xbox and race to watch television. There's barely time for the present let alone the past.

What kind of man was Alberto that he would move a child to such eloquence a year after his passing, a child with so many other things to do, a child not even his relative?

Alberto DominguezWe could tell you that as a young man, Alberto was a national cycling champion in his native Uruguay. He migrated to Australia around 1973 and worked as a baggage handler for Qantas for 21 years before retiring.

Nicknamed Pocho, he was a leading figure in Sydney's Spanish community, hosting a Spanish music radio show and also founding Sydney's 'Club Uruguayo'.

When he died aboard American Airlines Flight 11, leaving his wife Martha, four children and six grandchildren, he had just used his holiday to visit a sick relative in Boston and was on his way home to Australia via Los Angeles.

But it's not the raw facts of where he went and what he did in the physical world that highlight the impact of a man's being. It's how he affected those whose lives his touched.

At his funeral service, they said Alberto had a passion for life. And he clearly communicated that passion, that joy with many people.

His family:

"It is nearly five years since you've gone... we love you and miss you every day. May the angels look after you and give you lot's of love."
His workmates:

"Dear Pocho, I worked with you for 4 years. A beautiful and gentle man. You are sadly missed."

"Missing that big trademark smile and happy go lucky nature. A true gentleman. Mates at Qantas."
His friends:

"'Pocho' was a good friend of all my family as i am best friends with his grandchildren who are all my ages 16-17... we are all very sadened by this loss but its really celebrating the great and wonderful FULL life he lived.. with a wonderful family who i am glad i'm a part of..."

"Albert, you are in our hearts and prayers.god bless your family."

"He is what every proud Australian should aspire to be, honest hard working and a loving family man... his legecy and his love of Australia and making his country and family proud will forever be with us in our hearts."
What kind of man was Alberto 'Pocho' Dominguez?

He was an honest, hard working, loving family man, a good friend, a beautiful and gentle man with a happy go lucky nature. He was a true gentleman whose family miss him very much, every single day.

A man who moved a child to stop and honour him.


We live in an age of acceleration - children dash about to do everything they have to do; adults too.

When we volunteered to take part in the 2996 Project at the end of June this year, we intended with all our hearts to get straight onto the task of learning more about Alberto and honouring his memory. We'd always intended to reach out gently and try to contact his family to ask for one simple memory that would become our tribute.

But life got in the way - work, family, the day to day grind and the million and one commitments we all have in our lives. "Tomorrow," we kept saying, "tomorrow we'll start searching and making calls." Then suddenly it was September and we hadn't even begun probably the most important job we had to do.

It didn't take long searching on the Internet to piece together what an amazing life Alberto had and to begin to grasp how admired and respected and loved he was - and, in a way, to begin to feel admiration and respect and love for him too. But then it was September 9 and, in the end, we realised we'd left it too late to go any further so close to the anniversary of his passing.

Here's our tribute to Alberto. It's a lesson 'he' reminded us of:

Never leave it until tomorrow to tell someone you love them.
-- Nick and Nora Charles

With thanks to those who spoke with us and forwarded emails.


UPDATE: The 2996 Project site is down due to high traffic. Click here to visit a mirror site with the full list of tributes

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