|Birth: ||Jun. 23, 1998|
Los Angeles County
|Death: ||Sep. 11, 2001|
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
A family tragically lost, remembered
Dan Brandhorst, Ron Gamboa and their adopted son David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst died aboard United Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center.
By Malaika Costello-Dougherty
Three-year-old David Brandhorst used to ask for a big hug and then would grab the other person and squeeze.
"The big hug became squeezing and shaking, it was the way he did everything, so hard that he started to shake," friend Ken Yood says.
David Brandhorst and his fathers -- Dan Brandhorst and Ron Gamboa -- died aboard United flight 175, the second hijacked plane to crash into the World Trade Center, at 9:03 a.m. on Sept. 11.
The family was returning to Los Angeles from Boston after spending a weekend at a friend's waterfront house in Ogunquit, Maine.
"It is so big that we cannot process it," friend Bernie Cummings says of the tragedy. "What we can process is this little boy."
David was considered the "king of the slide" at West Hollywood Park -- "David's playground." The Legos that he loved to play with while his fathers brunched at Hugo's on Santa Monica Boulevard are similarly called "David's Legos." David would help feed the fish at Hugo's and many of the waiters came to the family's memorial last week.
David was "a moose" who looked 4 when he was only 2, Yood says of the boy he remembers running around smiling and having a good time.
"Everybody knew David. He was very much the ring leader," Yood says.
"He just was the pied piper of children," Cummings says.
"They loved each other intensely but David was it," Cummings says. "They really got what it meant to be parents."
The Brandhorst-Gamboa family were founding members of the Pop Luck Club, a community for existing families and a support group for gay men looking to adopt. Yood is now the president of the Pop Luck Club, which he says, has "proven itself to be such a comfort, such a support."
When Yood and his partner adopted a child, Brandhorst and Gamboa arrived first at the hospital. Gamboa brought flowers for the birth mother. The couple then loaned David's bassinet to the new parents.
"They presented a model of how to be a family for us," Yood says. "Dan and Ron made that dream attainable for us.... When I walk down the street and I see other families like ours, I see Dan and Ron's legacy."
The Brandhorst-Gamboa family lived in the Hollywood Hills and was famous for their parties, making people feel at home and spontaneous picnics. Brandhorst, a lawyer, made junior partner at PriceWaterhouse accounting firm. Gamboa worked at The Gap for 10 years and became the regional manager. The couple loved to shop.
Yood describes Brandhorst and Gamboa as the "perfect foil...where Dan was uptight and driven, Ron was laidback and relaxed."
"They were a constant in our lives and the lives of I can't tell you how many," Yood says. "Every Sunday at St. Victor's Mass. Every Saturday and possibly Sunday they went to Hugo's for brunch. Every Saturday Dan would take David to swim classes at the Y. Every Friday night was date night for them."
"They had hit a place in their lives that most of us aspire to," Cummings says. "A wonderful group of friends, successful jobs, parents. They loved life, loved their jobs, loved each other but most of all they loved David."
A memorial service was held at St. Victor's last Tuesday. More than 500 people were at the service which Yood says hoped "to do some of the work that Dan had left undone...to tell what it meant to be a gay family in West Hollywood and participate in that kind of way, what kind of legacy they leave."
About 150 people went to Cummings' house afterwards, and he says he opened his house because it is what Brandhorst and Gamboa would have done.
A memorial service was held in Brandhorst's hometown of Syracuse, N.Y., and another at Gamboa's old high school in Kentucky. A tree planting and memorial is planned for next week in Ogunquit, Maine.
"It is truly amazing how many people can be touched by the lives of so few," Yood says.
(bio by: Find A Grave)
Daniel Raymond Brandhorst (1960 - 2001)
Ronald L. Gamboa (1968 - 2001)
National September 11 Memorial
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Plot: Panel S-4
Created by: James Seidelman
Record added: Nov 10, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 5946487