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The Consummate Father, Friend And Professional

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On July 5, 1997, David was admitted to his local hospital to undergo a bronchoscopy and thoracotomy. His right lung had collapsed and his pleural cavity was full of fluid. The doctors attempted to inflate his lung. Several follow up x-rays continued to show a large pleural effusion in the right chest cavity. He was connected to a chest tube for several days and later sent home. For the next few months, his pleural cavity continued to accumulate fluid and would continue to return to the hospital to have the fluid drained.

Unfortunately, in spite of Mr. Rizor's long history of occupational exposure to asbestos, his local doctors in Lima, Ohio failed to make the connection. From July until December, David was having severe pain and his breathing was labored. In December of 1997, David's doctors performed another thoracotomy. The diagnosis was right sided pleural malignant mesothelioma. David was sent home on December 24 to spend the holidays with his family. The diagnosis was reached too late. Had the doctors put the pieces of the puzzle together earlier, David might have had a chance to fight back. Instead, David died at home on January 17, 1998.

Mr. Rizor was exposed to asbestos products beginning in December of 1959 while in the United States Navy. After his discharge in the 1960s, he joined the IBEW in his hometown and was a respected brother until his death. As a journeyman electrician, he was lauded as a perfectionist who always had extra time to pass on his "trade secrets" to the up and comers. He regarded his union brothers and sisters as part of his extended family.

David and his wife Margaret have five (5) children ranging in age from 16 to 29. The word "victim" gets overused nowadays. David did everything within his power to overcome the stereotype, emotionally and physically. In August, 1997, despite the fact that he was tethered to a chest tube, David crawled out of the hospital to be with his daughter. Why? The answer is simple: duty and honor. His daughter was to be married. Chest tube or not, against his doctors wishes, David Rizor was determined to walk his beloved child down the aisle to be married. Mr. Rizor had his wedding suit specifically tailored in order to hide the chest tube. These are not the traits of a helpless "victim." These are the traits of an American hero.

David on his death bed

David's loss is felt by the entire community in Lima. But most of all, there is a hole in his wife Margaret's heart. Margaret is a registered nurse. She works at the hospital in Lima where David's case was handled (perhaps mishandled). Below are photos of her dearly beloved husband, as well as Margaret's memories of her husband's demise.

"The pictures visualize how fast the cancer grew in one month's time from his release from [the] Hospital. The Doctor excised and biopsied one lesion and left it open to heal for me to pack with dry gauze and change twice a day. I was able to do all nursing care, as I am a registered nurse, however it was difficult for the children to see their dad's gruesome looking chest wall and his losing weight and his difficult in breathing.

I took these pictures without Dave aware of the flashes, as he was sedated. We all expressed how he looked like "Jesus on the Cross" so - so thin. He suffered so much for shortness of breath, hunger and pain that when he died with me, the five (5) children, three (3) grandson, son-in-laws, we had tears of sadness encapsulated with tears of joy because he was so sick and now no more suffering and finally he can sleep without struggling. He was a true warrior throughout this whole ordeal - he knew he was so sick and had to die, but he did not want to leave us yet, as he loved the kids so much and would do anything for us all.

We hope the asbestos companies read this. We hope that they see the pictures of a once solid and swarthy man who was reduced to skin and bones by a malignant tumor that bears the sinister handiwork of the Devil himself. This is not Hollywood. This is not a poetic melodrama. This is real. The asbestos companies poisoned David. They took his life and left a family shattered. For what? The crass answer is "money" or "greed." I find this unsatisfactory. This assumes a rational exchange of things of equal or near equal value. The merchants of death here put zero value on David's life -- they simply did not care. This is what killed David: callous and reckless indifference. They chose not to consider the consequences, like tossing a hand grenade into a day care center. All of which reminds me of a tune by Bob Dylan titled Masters of War:

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness?
Do you think that it could?
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

Until the very end, David refused to surrender to the curse of victimhood. He spoke eagerly about the arrival of his fourth grandchild in May, whom his daughter decided to name Michael David. Another daughter was planning to wed in September of 1998. Although he was able to walk one of his daughters down the aisle -- a proud day for everyone -- Mr. Rizor knew to expect the best but plan for the worst. If Daddy could not do it, the honor would shift to his eldest son. Just before he died, Mr. Rizor called his eldest son over to his bed and briefed him on the protocol. To the very end, David Rizor was the consummate father, friend and professional.

*** POSTED FEBRUARY 17, 1998 ***