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To Absent Friends

Our last news issue of the year is a time to reflect on what 2010 brought, and what’s been lost.

And who are no longer with us.

The year began with the sad, surprising death of a longtime friend, Donna Garofano, SVP of government and regulatory affairs at Atlantic Broadband. She died on New Year’s Eve of 2009 at age 56 in Salem, N.H.. She had apparently taken ill while on a business trip. A veteran franchise negotiator with Cablevision and Ameritech New Media before ABB, she was funny, fiercely liberal and shared with me a love of the musical Gypsy. She is still very much missed.

In February, Howard Marcantel, VP of educational events at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, died suddenly after a heart attack, at age 47. The Louisiana native brought 17 years of project and event management experience in broadcast and cable television to CTAM, where he led the development of the content for the annual CTAM Summit and other educational events. He earlier worked at Discovery Communications, the National Association of Broadcasters and the NCTA.

Mike Connors, the first driver of the iconic C-SPAN Bus, died on Feb. 12 at age 61 after a long illness. From Racine, Wisc., he was the bus’s first driver in 1993, and over 17 years he logged more than half a million miles.

Paul Braun, the 30-year cable vet and programming VP at Time  Warner Cable’s National Division in Denver, died in March at age 58 after a long battle with cancer. He was best known as the kind-hearted and sharp-witted lyricist (with Erica Stull) of the song parodies performed by the Denver chapter of Cable Positive in an annual revue that, over the years, raised more than $1 million for charity.

Dean Olmstead, the 55-year-old president of EchoStar Satellite Services, died of cancer in October. The longtime satellite industry executive also worked at Loral Space & Communications, DirecTV, NASA and the State Department, joining EchoStar in 2008. He was a member of the Space Technology Hall of Fame.

To these and other absent friends — including Dane Hall, the VH1 Classic and QVC producer — a quiet toast.