Eugene “Gino” Verdon III, age 22, passed away May 31, 2012, in Melbourne, Australia. Tragically, he was another victim of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes. Gino went to bed in the early morning hours of Thursday, May 31 — healthy, happy and excited to be traveling home to the U.S. the next day. During his sleep, Gino unknowingly developed severe hypoglycemia and didn’t wake up.
Gino was born Feb. 1, 1990, in Hudson, N.Y. Gino treasured his childhood that allowed him to attend schools in Danville, Ky.; Tokyo, Japan; Big Flats/Corning, N.Y.; and Taipei, Taiwan, where he graduated from the Taipei American School (TAS) in 2008.
As part of his educational experiences, Gino also traveled the world. Some of his favorite places were Hawaii, Tasmania, California, The Great Wall, Thailand, Saipan, New York City, Melbourne, and exploring Taipei, especially Luxy. Since he was old enough to read a map, Gino always wanted to visit London. That dream came true earlier this year as he and his girl celebrated their birthdays together in London. Although Gino loved the big cities and far-away locations, he was just as happy at his grandfather’s Christmas tree farm, playing in the back yard or playing a game of orange ball in his Pop-Pop’s pool.
Like his entire family Gino, was an avid New York Yankee and New York Giants fan. He enjoyed going to Yankee Stadium every year with his extended family. Over the past few years, he also rooted for the New Zealand All Blacks. Gino enjoyed reading and had a zeal for anything Lord of the Rings. He loved to relax to music and learned to play guitar; “Iron Man” was his favorite song to play.
While living in Painted Post, Gino volunteered to work with mentally-challenged children. This seemed to start Gino’s deep love for children. Perhaps because of his warm smile or his generous heart, young children were always enamored of Gino. He was the first choice of many kids to be their babysitter. Gino’s family was so looking forward to him becoming a father someday, as we all know we would have been an excellent dad.
As reported in local newspapers, in the summer of 2003, Gino and his family organized the first Tour DeKeuka, a 100-mile bike ride around Keuka Lake to raise awareness and donations for a cure for diabetes. The first year of this bike ride started in Painted Post at 5 a.m. and finished 210 miles later, minutes before midnight on the same day, in Catskill, N.Y.
Gino’s father made the entire trek accompanied by Gino at various stages of the ride. Numerous other friends and family joined along the way, with some completing their first century ride. The first year raised more than $8,000. The second year the event was renamed the Tour DeKeuka, the route changed to circle Keuka; and the amount raised more than doubled. The Tour DeKeuka bike trek now has become an annual event, with over $215,000 in donations for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Further information can be found at www.tourdekeuka.com or Randy Rhodes at TourDeKeuka@Gmail.com. Out of respect for origins of this event, it is the family’s hope the Tour DeKeuka can be renamed in Gino’s memory.
Sports were a big part of Gino’s life. He played baseball for 10 years. During Gino’s last year of Little League, he and his two brothers played on the same team and made up 3⁄4 of the infield. He also played American football, basketball, soccer, and swimming. His father enjoyed coaching Gino and his brothers in baseball, basketball and football everywhere they lived, while his mom supported these events as the Team Mom, Little League board member/chapter president, or cheerleader.
It was while attending Taipei American School Gino found his true passion in rugby, where he was captain of the TAS Tigers. Gino’s passion for rugby led him to be a physical fitness enthusiast. After graduation from TAS, Gino moved to Melbourne, Australia, to attend university. Late last year, he took time off from his formal studies and recently received his Personal Training Certificate from The Australian Fitness Institute, taking on his first client in late May. Gino planned to balance his commitment to physical fitness with a bachelor of science degree in food and nutrition, and expected to graduate in one year.
Gino so enjoyed his life and lived every day to the fullest. He has an amazing group of friends in Melbourne as well as Taipei, Corning/Painted Post, Tokyo and Kentucky, who he talked about with laughter and fantastic memories. Gino also was making plans for his future after graduation that included marriage to the love of his life, Ellie Shepherd of London. They were to be engaged upon Ellie’s arrival in New York June 9.
Gino is survived by his father, Gino Jr.; his mother, Patricia; brothers Joseph and Zachary; grandparents Eugene Sr., and Robert and Phyllis Abrahamsen; numerous aunts, uncles and cousins; and so many beloved friends who were his extended family all over the world. He is pre-deceased by his cousin, Anthony Ryan Verdon, and grandmother Sophie A. Verdon.
In keeping with Gino’s life, memorial services for Gino span the world. An informal memorial was held for Gino June 5 at The Curtain in Melbourne; followed by services June 7. A service was held in Taipei, Taiwan, at Mother of God Church, only a few blocks away from where Gino and his family lived during the past six years. Mass was said in Gino’s memory at the Franciscan Chapel Center (Roppongi Catholic Church) in Tokyo. A memorial will be held in Gino’s honor in the Corning, N.Y., area; for more details, call Jeffery Christian at (607) 738-6928.
Calling hours were 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Monday, June 11, in the Catskills at Richard’s Funeral Home, Cairo, N.Y. There will be a Catholic mass and burial today, Tuesday, June 12, followed by a gathering at the Kiskatom fire house. Contact Richard’s Funeral Home for more information, (518) 622-9503.
Memorial donations in Gino’s honor can be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).