SCOTT H. SABER
Read by Andrew Levy on
Let me start by apologizing if this tribute is a little long, but I think Scott would want it this way…
There is an old cliche “To know him is to love him.” For those of you who ever came in contact with Scott Saber, also known to many of his friends as “Buff, ” you know exactly what I am referring to. Buff was truly a unique person with a truly unique personality.
While meeting dozens of my friends over the years from High School and College, my mother will repeatedly inquire about them and ask with confusion, “Which one is L.B.? Which one is Twiggy? Which one is Hoss or Gomer? I can never get them straight!”. But then with a smile she will clearly ask, “And how is my boy Buff?” Our crew doesn’t exactly make it easy with all of our nicknames, but one thing is for sure, there was no confusing Buff. He was a special person!
Buff was a gift to us all. You start to wonder why G-d would give us this gift only to take it away. But then you must understand that just having Buff in our lives was wonderful and we were fortunate to have received such a gift, one that we must treasure forever!
A week and a half ago, Buff called me to invite me out to dinner and
to watch the Giants football game with our friend Robert Michaels. At halftime he asked us what we were going to do, whether or not we were
going to stay. He had to get home to
prepare his keynote speech for a
conference the next morning at the
For the past week I sat at home like a zombie going back and forth from e-mail correspondence to the television, and while fighting off the horrible images, I reflected on so many wonderful memories of Buff.
I remember the first time I met
Buff while he was a sophomore at Lehigh. I was a freshman surrounded by
strangers during a fraternity rush program where I was basically ignored by
everyone in the room. It was then that this jovial character approached me
wearing a maroon sweatshirt with “
I’ll remember how Buff was always
giving to his family and friends. Always
so helpful. Always offering advice. There aren’t many fraternity brothers in
this room who didn’t have an English paper written for him by the Buff the
night before it was due. He had a knack for writing and it seemed
effortless. He was always willing to
give a fellow schoolmate a tutoring session. He was always willing to drive
someone somewhere when they were carless. He loved to take long drives on a
sunny day listening to music and enjoying the sights and sounds around
him. Many times he spoke about how he
would spontaneously jump into his BMW just to take a “lap” around
I’ll remember Buff being so concerned about others around him. He always inquired about what you were up to with your life and the others around you. He would never mind if a friend stopped by his apartment at for a nightcap if you just needed a place to hang and a good person to hang out with. Whether he knew you a long time or it was a first meeting, the Buff sincerely cared. The Buff was always willing to accompany you if you were going to do anything that particular day. He had so many interests or would want to try new adventures. He never wanted to miss anything. He wanted to be a part of it all.
We attended countless baseball games, some planned and some spontaneous….some wearing Coneheads and some without….some meaningless April games and some final games of a World Series. It was great sneaking Buff down on the freight elevator which led to the Yankees victorious clubhouse so we could take photos with David Cone in front of his locker prior to the all-night World Series celebration. He loved that! He loved sports and attending sporting events.
And while I’m speaking of sports,
what fraternity brother could forget when as pledges, we all were made to drive from
So when the next edition of the
Brown and White, Lehigh’s school newspaper, was printed that week we read how,
“Scott Saber, with multiple cracked ribs and broken fingers, alluded defenders
to single handedly lead Lehigh over the
And the restaurants…the Buff loved restaurants….he loved fine dining. He loved food and he had a pretty good partner in crime in me. He knew good food and spirits and had specific things he enjoyed. From a certain shish kabob stand outside Yankee Stadium, which I wouldn’t exactly call fine dining but for ballpark food you could consider it to be, to the Blue Water Grill to Smith & Wollensky’s to Gustavino’s for drinks and so many more. And like in the sitcom “Cheers,” everyone knew his name! The waiters and maitre d’s at these establishments always acknowledged his arrival. However, if you were a waiter or waitress, you better have been on your “A” game when you were serving the Buff, or you better be ready to fill out an application at a new restaurant the next day. He demanded perfection when he wanted something. And G-d forbid you served him any form of mushroom in anything put on his dinner table. But if you wanted a good tip, it might behoove you to have a bottle of Mylanta nearby.
One of Buff’s classic lines was, “I’m not that hungry but I’ll have a little nibble” That little nibble might include dinner at at the Blue Water Grill with a follow-up Porterhouse at Smith and Wollensky’s on his ride uptown. He enjoyed it so much! And they truly enjoyed him being there! Melissa and I loved calling the Buff after our meals to tell him that we liked his suggestion of a restaurant or even to tell him we didn’t like his suggestion which always offended him but typically just drew a response that the two of us “didn’t really know good food!” Every Saturday morning, if we weren’t out with him the night before, we would call him on the speakerphone and get a recap of his escapades from the previous night. This past weekend, I thought of making that call several times, but there was no one to call.
In addition to good food, Buff knew and appreciated good things and liked to always travel first class. For instance, he could tell you things like which seat on the plane would be the most comfortable if you were flying east before noon during the first six months of the year, an odd year, with or without a companion, drunk or sober, happy or sad, hungry or sick…..well…I think you get my point! Every trip he befriended someone and always returned to re-lay some dramatic story of what happened while he was away. It is so great that he was able to take his recent trip around the world. And as exhausted as he was upon his return, he dragged himself out to meet the regular dinner group at Mr. Chow’s, only to say it was just “alright” with clear disappointment in his voice. He was a tough critic.
I’ll remember the Buff excelling in his career. While we heard him complain on occasion about things relating to the various jobs he had, he was at the top of his profession. The speech he was to present on Tuesday morning was a big deal. It was very impressive to be delivering such a speech. He would be talking to successful and intelligent people also at the top of their professions, passing his knowledge and expertise onto them. He was so caring. He always wanted to help.
Looking through piles of pictures this week I saw Buff at so many different functions. I noticed that in each photo he had a huge smile. He was a happy person. He enjoyed life to the fullest. You could call him so many nights on his cell phone as he answered, “This is Scott,” and you could hear the roar and laughter of the people behind him in a stadium or in a restaurant or in a bar. I’ll remember his love of a good party, or dinner or gathering of friends. He was always a huge part of our annual fraternity trip to the Lehigh-Lafayette football game in November when we take our “Magic Bus” ride which we will dedicate to Scott this year and call it the “Magic Buff, ” in honor of our fallen brother. He would want it that way. The Buff really looked forward to that trip each year!
Buff and I shared a birthday party where all our friends got together around this time each year. He loved it, he loved picking the venue and the menu and the guest list and he loved the happiness the night brought not only to the birthday boys, but to our guests. And if I wouldn’t let him in on the planning of the menu, he definitely needed to hear what was being served and nothing was ordered until it had his stamp of approval. He loved bringing people together.
On New Years Eve he wanted everyone to come to his apartment for the pre-party as he put out the finest food and drinks, especially his Scotch collection. He was proud to be the host, he was proud of his apartment, he was proud of his entertainment center and most important, he was proud of his family and friends. He had succeeded in his life and he wanted to share that..
I keep expecting Buff to walk through the doors of this synagogue and look around and look at all of us; ask us what we’re doing here and start laughing with his infectious laugh. And many of us knew what it was like to be “Buffed.” For those of you who don’t know, it was the art of delivering a story to someone whether he or she was listening or not. It’s when a story just had to be told.
Sometimes I think we were “Buffed” because Scott had so much to say to us, so much to share with us, so much to offer us and now we have come to learn so little time to tell it. But the fact of the matter was that we had him, and that was all we needed.
And it is fitting that on his birthday, we gather here today to celebrate his life. It gives us some closure I guess. A day where he will be closer to his father, Richard. Buff always talked about his father. He meant so much to him and his death really affected him. He missed him dearly and a day never passed that he didn’t mention him. They had a wonderful bond as do the entire Saber family.
Last year, for the first time, we
broke fast on Yom Kippur with the Sabers.
The constant playful debates between Scott and his mother were awesome
to observe. He was so proud of his
mother and the fact that she would travel all the way from
The Buff would love this outpouring of support from the congregation that is here today; the people who knew him and loved him. And it has been a tradition for our fraternity for close to 20 years that we play Pink Floyd’s classic song “Wish You Were Here” when we are together at just about any function where music could be played. And we interlock arms and go into a selfish zone that “outsiders” observing might not understand what we’re doing exactly but we are really only reflecting on people who aren’t there with us currently, who we wish could be. And Scott, while we all Wish You Were Here, we know in our hearts that you are somewhere sitting on a big leather couch wrapped in a blanket, smiling, looking at all of us today, catching up with your father with a pitcher of water sitting on your coffee table, listening to Steely Dan or the Who or The Grateful Dead or Reggae music produced by your dear friend Henry, drinking some wonderful scotch and eating delicious food and later smoking a big cigar. And Scott, speaking on behalf of everyone here today, I hope that we were able to give you half as much as you gave us. Because I know that everyone here today is a much better person because of you.
As I left synagogue two days ago following Rosh Hashanah services, I found Scott’s business card in my car. He had left it under my windshield wiper the Saturday before the tragedy as was customary for him whenever he would leave a Yankees game before I did if we had driven separately, just to let me know he had already left to go home. That day, we sat in different sections from one another, with different groups of friends. But I hadn’t rediscovered the card until I left synagogue ten days later. The business card was there, sitting in my car and even though I had driven several places during the week, it went unnoticed until Rosh Hashanah. Something strange hit me as I sat there in my car that in some special way, Buff was sending a message wishing us all a Happy New Year and just letting us know that he was leaving before we were.