David Deutchman spent most of his free time volunteering at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and cradled babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.
For nearly 15 years, he was known as the “ICU grandpa” who went viral a couple of years ago due to his efforts helping sick children and stressed parents, reported NBC News.
After being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he died two weeks later at the age of 86. His family is heartbroken and wants his legacy to continue for the future.
“Volunteering absolutely enriched his life,” Deutchman’s daughter, Susan Lilly, said. “The most meaningful part was the actual time he spent with these patients and their families.”
“He had a very successful business career, and I’ve never heard him talk with such appreciation and love for what he was doing any time during his 41 years with the company like he talked about his involvement with the people at the hospital,” his daughter added.
Soon after he retired from his marketing job, he quickly signed up to volunteer at the hospital. When he left his career, he found that he had a lot of free time and wanted to keep busy. After signing up, he received some training. He was very popular, and families always enjoyed him because he was so well-known and great with the children.
Lilly said her father received feedback from families and how much they appreciated him. However, Deutchman expressed how much he cherished these families.
His daughter shared that he loved holding the babies and playing with the older children. Deutchman said that volunteering for over a decade motivated and inspired him.
“This was definitely a new purpose for him and something that absolutely enriched his life,” Lilly said. “It brought us great pleasure to see him having that impact. Why not share his love with people who could use it at their most vulnerable times?”
When Deutchman turned 85 in November 2019, he considered retiring from the program. Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, the volunteer program was put on hold, which led the 86-year-old to exit.
On October 27, he learned that he had metastatic pancreatic cancer. Before his death on November 14, the hospital wanted to arrange a parade to cheer Deutchman and his family up.
Deutchman is survived by his wife, Ronnie, his daughters, Susan Lilly and Jill Deutchman, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.