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Mon, Oct. 21

Column: Good guys make world a better place

We were on the road again in mid-July, to my nephew's wedding in California. We left our house about 2 in the afternoon and grabbed the Daily Courier from its box at the end of our driveway. When I was driving, my wife, Judi, started reading the front page of the paper. After a few minutes, she gave a sigh and said, "Oh, no." I asked what was wrong and she told me that Gabe LaBruzza had died. She turned to the obituaries and read Gabe's out loud.

We were very im-pressed by the military service of Gabe and his brothers. The article also mentioned all of the loyal customers at LaBruzza's restaurant. They're loyal because the food is great, the ambiance is marvelous and the price is reasonable. And Gabe did the things that make all good restauranteurs successful: he made everybody feel welcome and at home. (This area has many of this type of restaurant owner, Darrell at Left-T's Steak House, Dana at the Lone Spur and SueAnn at the Apple Pan, just to name a few).

LaBruzza's was the first eating place we patronized when we moved to Prescott. Gabe and his restaurant hold a lot of memories. Our first time there, we were with another couple. After being welcomed and seated by Gabe, the waitress brought out the huge salad bowl and a breadbasket.

When she came back to take our order, we told her how good the salad was. I asked her if the dressing was a creamy Italian and she said it was the house dressing from an old family recipe. I asked her what was in the dressing and she said, "Oh, it's a top secret. I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you." I pointed to my wife and said, "Well, tell her then." All five of us started laughing, but my wife kicked me in the shin under the table. Gabe came over to our table and said that he was staying at our table because we knew how to have fun.

Gabe was always smiling, friendly and a gentleman. If you encountered him at a local store or on the street, he would always recognize you face, give you his big smile and ask how you were doing. He was one of the good guys and his passing is a true loss to the Prescott area.

We knew that our nephew, Nick, was also one of the good guys from watching him grow up. We had met his bride, Rachel, some time ago. She is beautiful, intelligent, hard-working and a perfect match for Nick.

After the wedding, we found out something about Nick that reinforced our knowledge of his fine character.

When his best man, Chris, gave the toast, he related the incident when he first met Nick. Chris is of average height and weight. Nick is over six foot three and was always a big kid. When he started at a new school in Junior High, Chris was haunted every lunch hour by a bully. One day at lunch, Chris sat near Nick, whom he didn't know. When the bully showed up and started harassing Chris, Nick told the bully to stop. When the bully continued, Nick advised him, in no uncertain terms, possibly physically, to stop and he did. Chris was never bothered by that bully again.

My father always offered the opinion that one of the tests of one's character, was how a person responds to bullies. The greater test was how one confronts those that bully others. It was gratifying to hear that Nick had passed that test.

After Chris's toast, my wife reminded me that both of our sons had similar experiences. One day, our friend, Jacke, came to our house, un-expected, with a freshly baked, homemade cheesecake. Jacke told Judi that the cheesecake was for out oldest son, Richard. When Judi asked her why Rich deserved a special dessert, Jacke told her that she, her husband and two kids were at the Elks' pool the day before.

Jacke saw a boy spitting on her son, Matt. Before she could intervene, she saw that Richard was also at the pool and, when he saw this, he told the other boy to stop spitting on Matt, who was quit a bit younger and smaller than the bully. When the bully spit on Matt again, after a fair warning, Richard socked him in the arm and the spitting stopped.

For those who are shocked and gasping that violence only begets more violence, I would suggest that they get off their high horse and come back to reality. Sometimes, most often in fact, the only thing tyrants and bullies respond to, is an appropriate amount of force administered by the good guys.

Buz Williams is a retired Long Beach, Calif., police officer who has lived in Prescott since 2004.

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