WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - A well-known D.C. business owner is dead, and his family is doing everything they can to make sure his legacy lives on.
It’s never easy losing someone you love.
“I was actually the first family member to arrive at the hospital and found out that he passed. That was tough,” Dana Wancjer said.
Jeffrey Gildenhorn, 74, died after a choking incident at the Palm restaurant, but his family said the situation is deeper than most people know.
“My brother suffered from Parkinson's,” Harry Gildenhorn said.
Loved ones said he’s been battling the disease for about three to four years.
“He has really-- the past number of times -- actually had choking incidents that scared the heck out of everybody but he's been fine. This case it wasn't,” Harry Gildenhorn explained.
Gildenhorn is most known for owning the American City Diner in Northwest, D.C., but his story goes back much further.
He dropped out of college when his dad died to support and run the family’s liquor store business.
“He had a great sense of business and marketing and advertising,” Harry Gildenhorn said. “That's what he loved to do. From that business he ended up developing 10 other businesses on the block.”
The native Washingtonian is described as a man with a big heart who was also a little brash and said what he wanted.
“He loved Washington so much. It ain't about politics. He wanted to change the city and make the city better,” Harry Gildenhorn said.
Gildenhorn ran for mayor in the 90’s and though he didn’t win he always stayed politically involved.
“You finally get the city appreciated you and you are looking down and I'm telling you, you are smiling more than I could have ever expected, Harry Gildenhorn said. “Of course, we love ya. I didn't that everybody didn't know how much they'd miss you until now.”
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