Gary Ivan Aknin “His Story” December 30, 1958-July 9, 2020 Gary Ivan Aknin was born on December 30, 1958, the first child of Charles Aknin and Ann Robbins Aknin in Manhattan, New York. Gary lived the first few years of his life in Manhattan on Central Park West, and always considered himself a New Yorker. Gary spent his youth in Rye, Westchester County, NY, close to John Jay’s family home and on the Long Island Sound. Gary graduated high school from Fenster boarding school in Arizona and has kept in contact with friends he made in Tucson to this day. Upon graduation he moved with his parents to Beverly Hills and San Marino, California. He worked at his father’s restaurant, “Charles V”, in downtown Los Angeles, as well as his grandfather Lester Robbins’ construction company building a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant in New Jersey. Deciding that being a waiter or a laborer was not for him, he attended Menlo College where he not only received his BS in Business Administration but also met his wife, Laurie Ann Merta. They were married in 1981 (and celebrated their 39th anniversary last month).
Six years later, Gary and Laurie were blessed with their only child, a son, Benjamin John Aknin. Gary was a true Renaissance Man, he sold life/disability insurance, worked for Lockheed Missile and Space, Oracle, Hyperion, and various other high-tech companies in Silicon Valley, ending his career with his favorite position as the Director of Customer Support for Edge Dynamics, a start-up company. Gary attended Golden Gate University and obtained an MBA in Real Estate Finance, and he became a Real Estate Broker and a General Contractor. When Gary became disabled, he continued to expand his mind volunteering at the Mt. Pleasant School District on the Parcel and Bond elections; learning to oil paint; and volunteering in the classroom where Ben taught 5th grade, assisting with the room setup and the annual Haunted House. Gary loved to cook and was well known for his guacamole, filet mignon, and paella. Gary also loved cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for Ben’s class. Gary loved to travel, frequently going to New York City and Paris, France where he had relatives. A highlight trip was going to Marrakesh, Morocco to celebrate his beloved cousin Nathanaëlle’s 30th birthday. Gary was also a life-long learner, he read all the Federalist Papers and was an avid fan of Alexander Hamilton, reading his biography, seeing the musical three times, and visiting Hamilton’s home and grave in NYC. In 2003, Gary was diagnosed with CLL. After a few years of treatment he decided to have a Stem Cell Transplant, and although the transplant failed, Gary continued to fight his disease. Gary participated in several clinical trials at Stanford and at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, extending his life—as he said—"kicking the can down the road until another treatment option is available”. Gary did not find another treatment option and passed away surrounded by his Annie (his mom), Laurie (his wife) and Ben (his son) on July 9th. Gary is predeceased by his father Charles Aknin. He is survived by his wife Laurie, his son Ben, his mother Ann, his sisters Ellen, Michelle (David), Deborah (Mark), and Stephanie (Mikhael) and their families. He is also survived by his brother- and sister-in-law, Rod and Aggie Merta, his nieces and nephews, as well as many cousins. Gary will also be greatly missed by his “comfort” cats, Remy and Rosie. The family would like to thank the staff at the Stanford ITA and F Ground who have taken wonderful care of Gary over the last 17 years. Donations in his name may be made to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, where his grandparents Lester and Sheila Robbins were active in the creation of the museum. A celebration of Gary’s amazing life will be held when it is safe to do so.