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and Richard Corriston Reunite
Recently, Hasbrouck Heights resident, Bob Corriston, starred in an Optimum Online commercial promoting the benefits of using the online service.
Bob told the story about finding his brother after almost forty years.
This could have been just another story, but Bobs story is different. Its about a family torn apart by tragedy, apathy and time. In the end, placing a value on faith was one mans journey to finding his family.
Bob Corriston and his wife, Mary Margaret, have lived in Hasbrouck Heights for almost twenty-five years.
They are the parents of Christine and the late Douglas, who, at the time of his death, attended Hasbrouck Heights High School.
Bob currently works in sales and his wife is employed at a local bank. Their daughter, Christine, is a graduate of Lycoming College of Williamsport, PA and is a school teacher in North Carolina, where she, her husband, Rocco, and Bella, their dog, now reside.
Bobs story starts when he was fifteen. Bob was born and raised in Newark, NJ with his older sister, Joan and his younger brother, Richard.
For the most part, Bob admits that they had the typical 50s childhood growing up in Newark. They had a very tight family. In 1954, the family moved to Kearny.
In February of 1955, his sister got married and moved out of the house. At the end of March of that same year, his mother died of a massive heart attack at age 44. It was a huge blow to the family.
Bobs world turned upside down three months later when his father brought home the soon-to-be stepmother along with her daughter, mother and brother.
Bob continued that life was no
longer pleasant at home. "After three months, I couldnt take it anymore and
told my father so. He told me if I didnt
I was fifteen years old with no money and nowhere to go. So I walked out the door with the clothes on my back and a dime in my pocket." He did not have many relatives to help at that point except an aunt, so he decided to seek her help.
He started the long walk from Kearny to Nutley where his aunt lived. Because he did not have enough money to cover the cost of the two buses needed to get to Nutley, he walked part of the way.
When he arrived at his aunts door and explained what happened, his Aunt Geri and Uncle Leo, who had no children of their own, immediately took him in.
A few days later they drove him to Kearny to pick up the rest of his belongings. To Bobs dismay, he found the locks changed and his few worldly possessions thrown in a pile down the basement. After that, Bob had no contact with his father again.
In the beginning, while living at his aunts house, he found life different from Kearny and his own family.
While sleeping on the couch in their living room he could hear the nightclub on the ground floor of the building gear up for another long evening.
"That took some getting used to," he commented. On one of those evenings, his uncle suffered a brain aneurysm. "He died the next day," Bob said sadly. That left him alone with his aunt.
Bob ended up leaving school for awhile to help support the household, but eventually returned to Nutley High School.
He played football his senior year and in 1959 graduated from Nutley High School in the same graduating class as Martha Stewart.
At the time of his graduation, he
Between 1961 and 1963 he was in
the service and was stationed in Germany for
After his discharge he returned to New Jersey, started working and enjoyed many summers at the Jersey shore.
While enjoying a beach rental at the Jersey shore with friends, he met his future wife on the beach. They were married in 1969.
Bob and his wife concentrated on working and raising a family of their own. Life was moving along well for the established family until 1991.
Their son, Douglas, came down with what was thought to be the flu the week before Thanksgiving. Two weeks later he was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Nineteen hours later his family was mourning his death. His death shattered the family.
It was a hard time for the family, but what got them through was the outpouring of support from their friends, family, community and fellow classmates of Douglas at Hasbrouck Heights High School.
"We had a lot of people to comfort us," Bob said. "Rows of kids walked to the church after class to pay their respects and the school lowered the flag to half mast."
Two years after their sons death, Bob and Mary Margaret were asked by the Newark Archdiocese Family Life Center to start a support group for parents grieving the loss of a child.
The group is now called "HOPE" (Helping Other Parents Endure). They are also involved in raising money for the cure of leukemia. Every year, since its inception, they have had a team, "Dougs Team," walking in the national "Light the Night Walk."
A tree now stands on the grounds of the high school alongside a bench dedicated to Douglass memory.
One month after Douglas died, Bobs sister died unexpectedly. With two major losses in his family, Bob was determined now more than ever to reconnect with his brother.
He resumed his search of many years and with his computer and the newly installed Optimum program, it was much easier than ever before. His search took him across the country. He found the name Richard Corriston in Colorado.
When he called Richard, it was
the first conversation that the brothers had in years. With the use of frequent flier
miles, Bob went across country to
He was met in the baggage area by his brother and his wife, Billie. Needless to say, it was a tearful reunion.
While in Colorado, the brothers
decided they wanted to find some way to help
When Bob got back to New Jersey,
he wrote a letter to Optimum Online with his story and fifteen months later got a call
from the marketing
"We receive no residuals when the commercial is shown. Just having my brother and sister-in-law flown in was more than enough compensation."
They filmed for twelve hours what could have been considered a documentary.
They shot in Newark, where their
old house had been knocked down, in Kearny at their old apartment and in Hasbrouck Heights
They ended the commercial at the grave of their parents, where the brothers made peace with their father. ###
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