Yesterday was a tragic day for our family. Louis Raymond Rossi, my wife’s oldest nephew, died suddenly at the age of 46.
He was born on Long Island and moved here to Amsterdam as a toddler. He attended Bacon Elementary School and along with his beloved younger brother Tom became the first students in Greater Amsterdam School District history to learn how to program a personal computer. He was just ten years old when their dad taught them BASIC on one of those classic Atari 400 machines. The family then moved to Florida when Lou was still in grade school. They settled in St. Augustine and young Louis never left.
He graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1988 and then earned a degree in physics from Florida State University. In 1994, he married Kim Kamla. I believe that God creates perfect partners for everyone on this Earth but the challenge is finding each other. If you saw Lou and Kim together for any length of time during the 22 years they’ve been husband and wife you’d know that they conquered that challenge.
After graduating college he tried teaching for a second but the passion with computers that started with that old Atari pulled him into a technical career that segued into the world of entrepreneurship. Over the next two decades, Lou evolved into one of the top networking experts in this country, helping scores of clients efficiently and securely connect their data and communication appliances together, earning every major networking certification available in the process and also helping hundreds of others do the same. In the process he started three companies, co-authored a couple of books and became the dad of three beautiful and very talented children.
Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing Louis well will always remember his charismatic and slightly eccentric personality. Our family’s history is filled with “Louis” stories, which his cousins cherish and will make sure are retold forever. There was the time we met in Myrtle Beach for a golf vacation and Louis stopped on the way to our first golf course and purchased a brand new set of Ping irons. On the fourth hole that morning, the five iron from that just-purchased set landed at the bottom of a large pond after Lou blamed it for a sliced second shot. Then there was the week he and Kim stayed with us here in Amsterdam. At the time Lou was around thirty and our youngest son Michael was in his late teens and every night Louis would chauffeur Mike and a carload of his best friends to the hottest nightspots in the Capital District, while Kim stayed home with me and Rosemary, watching television. To this day, friends of my son who encountered him during that legendary “Louis is in Amsterdam” tour still ask me about him and tell me he was one of the funnest guys they ever met! Then there was the Cincinnati wedding of my niece Jennifer. It took place in a beautiful pavilion that sat high up on a hill in a large city park. The family was all sitting around tables catching up with each other when Kim’s phone rang. It was Louis asking her to send a car because he had fallen down the hill (“over the side” as he put it) and couldn’t make it back up. He loved Florida State football and the Dallas Cowboys, taking his kids to Disney World, reading Ayn Rand and sitting poolside at his beautiful St. Augustine home.
He also had a heart of gold. When Syracuse won the NCAA Tournament back in 2003 he was at the championship game and he bought all three of his cousins who went to school there souvenir shirts (and one for me too!) His work required him to travel all across this country and whenever he was in a town where a cousin was living, he’d make sure to call and invite them out. He never missed a cousin’s wedding and was so looking forward to attending our daughter Marissa’s next summer.
Louis loved family more than anything in the world. He was a cherished husband, father, brother, son, grandson, nephew, cousin and uncle. He absolutely adored his Kamla in-laws and often told me how amazingly wonderful they had always been to him.
Our collective hearts broke yesterday when we got the news of Louis’s sudden passing. He was much too young and had too much yet to offer this world to be taken away at such an early age. We often see artwork depicting heaven as being a place up among the clouds so if there is any accuracy to that depiction, the term “cloud computing” just took on a whole other dimension.