After seven weeks of remarkable care provided by Miriam Hospital and a strong will to live, with far more to contribute to this world and an ambitious list of goals and plans to see through, Gary L. Povar passed away peacefully on Saturday, May 16 at HopeHealth Hospice Center with his wife Mary Marnane by his side. He was 59 years old. While surrounded by loved ones near the end of his fight, the isolation Gary experienced during his hospital treatment while fighting Covid-19 remains a dark contrast to his joyous and outgoing personality that drew people near throughout his life—a sad reality of the trying and disquieting times upon us.
Gary and Mary—who he always referred to as “My Mare”—shared a movie script-worthy love story that brought two families that were close even closer; a dream come true for two childhood best friends who became sisters, followed by a strong bond between siblings that persists onward. One of Gary’s final wishes was “Don’t be sad. Stay together as a family.”
It was during Gary’s time at Bryant College as an undergraduate student where he met the late Theresa Povar (Konikowski). The two married in 1986 and shared 23 years together, raising two daughters at their home in Cranston: Samantha Best (Povar), wife of Andy Best, and Tess Povar, engaged to Zach White. There was so much about his daughters that Gary admired, whenever he spoke of their accomplishments he glowed. He would often tell people that his greatest accomplishment in life was being the dad of two wonderful and beautiful daughters.
When his oldest daughter Samantha told Gary she and Andy were leaving their corporate jobs in New York City to travel the world for a year, Gary’s initial response isn’t fit for print, but was followed by “jeeze, I want to come back in my next life as you.” With so much respect and admiration for her desire to live life to the fullest it sparked Gary’s own desires to travel; only after he passed did family find his written “Bucket List Destinations with My Mare” that spanned the globe from Alaska to Italy. Gary’s similarities to his daughter Tess were stronger than either would care to admit. Their enthusiasm for life, excitable nature, and propensity to stress about the smallest things, led him to affectionately (and relatably) call her “Stressy-Tessy.”
On March 24, 2018, Gary and Mary married as the sun set on the island of Aruba, surrounded by their children and grandchildren. The two had plans to revisit the island this summer, a trip he was eager to take. Gary would often refer to life with Mary as “plan b,” one that neither could have ever dreamed up but one both found such joy in. The love and support they provided one another was palpably evident to not only those lucky enough to know them personally, but also those who knew of them through their children and extended family and friends. They were content with what they had, but always dreaming up the next chapter. Every moment was an adventure for them; even a simple trip to Starbucks or a walk around Garden City with their goldendoodle, Bentley, received Gary’s full energy and passion. He had a thirst for life and sparked a light in Mary that even the darkest of times could not extinguish.
Step-father is the usual term applied to his relationship with Mary’s children, but it seems like a diminutive way to describe what was a strong and cherished bond. He was a major figure in their daily lives, and provided them with much comfort, advice, and support. He’ll be missed immensely by Sean Marnane and his wife Nisha, Ryan Marnane, Kyle McKendall (Marnane) and his husband Donny McKendall, and Keri Jeannetti (Marnane) and her husband Daryl Jeannetti.
Born on January 27,1961 in Norwood, MA to the late Samuel and Janet Povar (Feinberg), Gary grew up in the town of Sharon, MA. Many of Gary’s best personality traits can be attributed to his father; they had a knack for storytelling and never missed a chance to tell a joke. Gary would strike up a conversation with anyone he encountered and it always went beyond pleasantries. He formed lasting connections and friendships that spanned many types. His friendships with Eric, Brutzy, and Jeff could not be hindered by a gap in time or relocation to another state; he cherished them so much. From staying close in contact with his childhood friends (usually over a slice at Town Spa Pizza), to the seemingly endless texts with the fantasy sports league guys, to even forming a bond with the barista at his coffee shop, Gary gave everyone he met the decency they deserved and made all feel remembered.
While Cranston, RI was Gary’s home for more than 30 years, Maine held a special place in his heart. It was here that many family memories were made as a child at Aunt Rosebud’s beach house in York Beach. Just a thirty minute drive away to Old Orchard Beach is where his sister Geri Howard and her husband Ralph Stevens would purchase a home. While distant in age, throughout the years Gary and Geri grew close; becoming best of friends, Gary always looked forward to and found comfort in sharing updates about their families. He and Ralph never missed an opportunity to talk sports. Anyone’s visual of Gary will certainly include one of his Boston teams’ logos on at least one, if not all, articles of clothing. Gary was a certified ASA umpire for many years, known best for his signature “strike threeee!” calls.
Gary spent the majority of his professional career in tool sales, most recently as national account executive at Stanley Black and Decker. Even on job sites and in a work setting, Gary formed close bonds and lasting friendships with the people he encountered. If you needed a hand with a simple project Gary wasn’t necessarily the person you turned to, but if you needed a state-of-the-art, rechargeable power tool, boy did he have something to sell you! As a salesman, he spent a lot of time on the road. The visual of Gary pulling into your driveway in his black F150 for a quick pop-in is only outshined by the visual of him doing the same on his days off in an electric-blue Mustang convertible, a color so bright it might be the one thing that outshined his personality.
Gary’s ability to find a nickname for anyone and everyone was a personality trait that embodied his ability to connect: Sam Bam, Tessy-loops, Keris, the Sports Boys, Doc Ry Man, AndyBest, Chief, Nishi, Zachy, Seeeeaan, Bedsteder, Robbie, The Dude, Brutzy, Z-Man, K, and Babs. Seven years ago, the king of nicknames received a new nickname of his own, one that he was so proud to hear: “Papa G.” There was so much more Gary wanted to do and share with his grandchildren Avery, Logan, Perry, and Jackson; they will cherish the legacy he leaves behind. It was during his time in the hospital that Gary learned that his daughter Samantha was planning to make him a grandfather for the fifth time and was able to see updates of her growing belly over FaceTime.
For the past two years, Gary has worked hard to overcome necrotizing autoimmune myopathy, a rare inflammatory disease. He was so thankful to Dr. Christopher, director of the Johns Hopkins Myositis Center for her commitment to him as a patient. He’d be the first to emphasize the rareness of being one in a million to have it, somehow always able to turn that into a badge of honor: “They’re going to write about me in case studies and text books for years to come!” To this date, no books were ever in fact published. Early this year, he was diagnosed with and overcame prostate cancer. We’ll leave your imagination to all of the inappropriate jokes Gary made around that procedure.
Everyone knew how much of a fighter Gary was, but his true strength shined through as he fought what would become the last battle of his life caused by complications from Covid-19. He defied all statistics and fought harder than anyone could have imagined; his will to survive and to be with his family once again was unambiguously evident. Even in his final moments he declared he wasn’t giving up; he knew how much more he had to live for. He often said, even in his final days, that someone needs to write a novel about the family’s beautiful journey, a heart-pounding narrative of loss and love. Gary’s character will continue to live on and develop through those who loved him most.
A celebration of life will be held when Gary’s family and friends are able to gather together. Details will be announced. Donations in Gary’s name can be directed to the Johns Hopkins Myositis Center. Gifts can be made online at secure.jhu.edu/form/myositis. Checks should be made payable to Johns Hopkins University with a memo note of “Myositis Center” and mailined to FUND Johns Hopkins Medicine, 750 East Pratt St 17th Fl, Baltimore, MD 21202.
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