Almost 50 years later, longtime friends are supporting each other: NPR


Greg Klatkiewicz and Gary “Zooks” Bezucha seen on one of their regular camping trips in 2019.

Courtesy of Greg Klatkiewicz


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Courtesy of Greg Klatkiewicz


Greg Klatkiewicz and Gary “Zooks” Bezucha seen on one of their regular camping trips in 2019.

Courtesy of Greg Klatkiewicz

Editor’s Note: Diane Bezucha, who co-produced this interview, works for StoryCorps and is the daughter of Gary Bezucha.

From the start, their friendship grew out of simple gestures. Best friends met when Greg Klatkiewicz, now 71, started smoking cigarettes from Gary “Zooks” Bezucha, 70, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, where they were both students. in physiotherapy in the 1970s.

At the time, Greg even introduced Gary to his future wife, Janet, another PT student in college. Together they were the “three amigos,” Gary said.

Saturday will be five years since Janet died. She died of cancer at the age of 64. At StoryCorps last year, Greg and Gary remembered Janet and some of the many adventures they shared with her. Greg and Gary made many canoeing and camping trips during their friendship, often joined by Janet and Greg’s wife, Deborah.

On these trips, Greg took daily notes – and they became relived memories of when Janet was in hospice care. He read her one of his diaries on one of their trips. The thoughtfulness of the act moved Gary.

“I don’t know if she heard you, but I did,” Gary said. “I will never forget this.”

Product audio for Morning edition by Jey Born and Diane Bezucha. NPR’s Emma Bowman adapted it for the web.

StoryCorps is a national non-profit organization that gives people the opportunity to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.


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