Tribute For Eduardo L. Gancayco, Who Kept Hospital Workers Fed, Dies at 62


This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Eddie Gancayco spent three decades working in food service at some of New York’s most prestigious institutions, including Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan. As manager of the cafeteria and catering there the last half-dozen years, he helped feed the hospital’s doctors and nurses.

Some of the same doctors and nurses treated him during his six-week battle with the new coronavirus. He died of complications of the infection on May 6 at 62.

Mr. Gancayco was one of the growing number of nonmedical workers who kept hospitals clean and safe and their staff members nourished before succumbing to the virus themselves.

He was admitted to Mount Sinai on April 3 and received his diagnosis after being sick at home for about two weeks, his daughter, Amanda Gancayco Travers, said. Many of the doctors and nurses who called to provide daily updates on her father’s condition knew Mr. Gancayco from the cafeteria, she said.

“He is one of us, and we’re taking care of him as best we can,” she said a doctor in the intensive care unit had told her.

When the virus took hold in New York, and Mount Sinai began experiencing a surge in patients, Ms. Travers had urged her father to consider taking time off to protect himself, she said.

He declined, citing the people who relied on him. “He was more thinking about how we are going to serve the doctors and nurses who need food and service under the new parameters,” Ms. Travers said. “He was always thinking about other people, and how he could help them.”

Eduardo Luis Gancayco was born on Oct. 27, 1957, in Manila. He was one of nine children of Miguel Gancayco, who owned a construction company, and Mary Gancayco, a homemaker.

Mr. Gancayco and his wife, Teresa, left the Philippines for the United States in the early 1980s and settled in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens. He came to feel at home in the city, embracing its diversity and energy, and becoming an avid Knicks fan, his daughter said.

Instilled with a love of cooking during his years in the Philippines, Mr. Gancayco worked at restaurants. He eventually took a job as a barista at a cafe run by the food services company Restaurant Associates.

Mr. Gancayco worked his way up, holding jobs in cafeterias at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a law firm and a bank before moving into management.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, his mother and seven siblings.

Mr. Gancayco took his love of hospitality home with him, coordinating and making elaborate spreads for all manner of family gatherings, including holiday dinners, bridal showers and Sunday brunches, Ms. Travers said.

“He was the consummate host, and could never sit down and enjoy,” she said. Even at her wedding in June 2018 at the Central Park Boathouse, she recalled, her father flitted about, greeting guests, asking them if they needed anything.

“I had to remind him: ‘Dad this is your event, you are not managing it. You should enjoy it,’” she said. He appeared to take her advice. As he delivered a toast, he smiled broadly, then downed two glasses of bubbly and implored his guests to have a good time.



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