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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 11, 2010

Neighbors fondly remember Hawaii veterinarian who died in plane crash

Advertiser Staff

Neighbors recalled Nicholas Palumbo as a gregarious and thoughtful man, someone who cared for their pets and their sons and daughters in equal measure.

“He was just a really nice, friendly neighbor,” said Barbara Borgnino, whose home on Gulston Street in St. Louis Heights overlooks the Palumbo home.
“Whenever there was a birth in the neighborhood, he would show up at the door with flowers for the new parents,” Borgnino said.
Her children used to hang out with the Palumbo children in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, but like other families in the neighborhood, the neighborly ties slackened a bit as the children grew older and went off to college.
Palumbo’s love for cats was readily apparent, given the “Cat Dr” personalized license plate on a dark blue Lexus parked in the driveway of the family home on Alencastre Street and by the cat painted on the address placard attached to the home.
Jane Ohara, whose house on Felix Street is down the hill from the Palumbo’s, said her children went to school with the Palumbos and played together in the neighborhood.
Ohara entrusted the care of her two cats to Palumbo, who treated one of them regularly for numerous cat-fight injuries.
“I just really like him a lot,” Ohara said, tears welling in the corners of her eyes.
“One of the cats used to get in fights all the time and I would be there at the clinic getting his abscesses lanced. Finally, he just taught me how to do it myself — he was just a real giving guy,” Ohara said.
She did her best to keep up with Palumbo’s eight children, six from a first marriage and two from a second.
It was Timmy, Palumbo’s youngest son, 20, who was killed along with his father, in the crash on Sunday.
The clinic where Palumbo worked with wife Suzanne Sylvester-Palumbo, also a veterinarian, is on Kapahulu Avenue, about a mile from the Palumbo house.
Employees there declined to comment this morning on the crash that killed Palumbo and his youngest son.
Karen Scharff, a manufacturer’s representative and family friend of the Palumbos for the past 25 years, stopped by the clinic early this afternoon to pay her condolences and drop off a small plant in memory of the late veterinarian and his son.
“It’s so incredibly heart-breaking and even more so to know that (Palumbo’s son) Timmy died in the crash, too,” Scharff said.
“He was such a wonderful, wonderful and caring man, probably the kindest man I have ever met,” she said.
Scharff, a volunteer at the Hawaiian Humane Society for the past five years, said Palumbo would commute to Lanai in his small plane to provide veterinarian services on that island as well.
“He had just finished remodeling the whole upper floor of his clinic, creating a boarding area. He was so proud of the project, he gave me a tour of the work that was done,” Scharff said.