Fred Cantor was a long-time friend of Kuti Zeevi, the Westport jeweler killed during a robbery last night. For many years Fred and Kuti played soccer with the Late Knights, a group of local men who enjoyed both the game, and socializing together afterward.
Fred remembers the Israeli-born business owner, soccer player and Westporter:
Many years ago someone told me you can learn a lot about a person by how willing he is to pass the ball and share it with teammates.
Kuti was always looking to pass to an open teammate, and it was indeed just one indication of his great generosity — both on and off the field.
Kuti was part of the mini-UN weekend soccer group that has been a fixture in Westport for decades. His passion for soccer was second to none, and it was exceeded only by his passion for his family. He was a loving husband, father and son who epitomized “family values” before that term ever became part of our landscape.
Several years ago Kuti and his loving wife, Nava, suffered the loss of their daughter Tali to leukemia. While nothing could possibly make up for that tragic loss, Kuti’s soccer teammates tried to offer some level of comfort by staging a soccer tournament to raise money for leukemia research in Tali’s memory.
Kuti, in his selfless fashion, expressed how grateful he was to all of us for organizing the event.
Even though he had some major injuries in his later years, they never dampened his enthusiasm for playing soccer and for competing. Even when he could no longer run much, he loved to play goalie and wouldn’t hesitate to throw his body on the ground, outstretched, in an attempt to make a save.
There was still a boyish spirit that remained inside him — one that I thought would never succumb to old age — and that was only snuffed out by a murderer’s bullet.
We will all miss Kuti’s smile, and his laugh, and his joy for the game.
And our hearts and thoughts are with Nava.
(A funeral service will be held this Sunday, Dec. 11, 1:30 p.m. at Temple Israel.)