Gianmarco Bertolotti – Gone but not forgotten online
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Gianmarco Bertolotti

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Gianmarco Bertolotti made friends fast. His older sister, Monique Bertolotti, remembers a big trip she took with him to New Orleans for his 30th birthday. At one point, Monique and the rest of the group lost track of her brother. When she finally located him, he told her he was hanging out with some new friends he’d made. “You could have been a friend for 35 years or a friend that he just met, he was going to be there for you,” Monique told BuzzFeed News. Childhood friend Russell Goldman recalled how Gianmarco arrived at his place the day before he moved to Miami in his mid-twenties. “I was kinda uneasy about moving, and he stayed with me the whole night,” said Goldman. “He slept at my house. He was there in the morning. And when my mom drove me to the airport, he was there to hug my mom and be there for her and console her when she dropped me off.” “He was just that kind of guy,” said Goldman. “He’d do anything he could to help a friend.” Gianmarco — a mason for Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan and a fixture in his Astoria, Queens, neighborhood — died earlier this month from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He was 42. But due to the social distancing regulations in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, there won’t be a funeral for Gianmarco anytime soon — no occasion for his friends to come together for him, to be there for him as he had been for them. “Not being able to have a funeral is what makes this so hard,” said Monique. Instead, to honor a man who loved to be there for others, Gianmarco’s family and friends have been finding new ways to mourn him. Neighbors set up a vigil with candles outside his Queens apartment building the day after he died. A childhood friend posted a skit and montage to Facebook. Other friends have been passing by the family’s home with handmade signs. It’s the outpouring of love from Gianmarco’s far-flung friends that has kept Monique and her dad going. “People just started posting about him, and it just sort of snowballed,” Monique said. “I've been talking to people who I don't even know, and they have said the most profoundly beautiful things about my brother. They’ve just been so genuine and said so many really beautiful things, and these are, like, grown men. It's just such a nice thing to hear.” The outpouring didn’t totally surprise her. “My brother was totally genuine, a sweet soul, and just a really nice guy. And that's what everybody says,” she said. “He kept friends for generations because he was such a good listener and he was always there for people." Gianmarco, known to many as G-Funk, had many passions. He loved music, food, singing, and dancing. He was a regular at many of the bars and restaurants that line Ditmars Boulevard in Queens. “He was like a mayor of his town in Astoria,” said Monique. “He was full of life, and he needed a place that's full of life. That’s why he loved New York City.”