After Gary Withey had a heart attack, his family gave his home an extreme makeover

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gary Withey is back home in Medina after having a heart attack on April 1. After recuperating at his brother and sister-in-law's in Albion for more than a month, Withey came home to a house that was repainted inside, with new carpet and many new furnishings. Withey is pictured with a family portrait that shows him with his late wife Denise, and their daughters, Allyson and Kelsie.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 May 2017 at 11:22 pm

MEDINA – After a difficult six weeks, following a triple-bypass for a heart attack on April 1, Gary Withey came home on Friday. His house on East Center Street had an extreme makeover, courtesy of Withey’s family. They repainted rooms, put down new carpet, cleared out some extra belongings and added some new furnishings.Withey was caught off guard. Today there was a welcome home celebration, and many of his friends, including bandmates, were there for the party.

When Withey’s sister, Barb Withey Williams, heard her brother had been taken by Mercy Flight on April 1, she drove up from Florida. She hasn’t left, spending about six weeks working on his house.

His sister-in-law, Debbie Withey, devoting about 80 hours a week on the house. She said her brother-in-law has spent a lifetime giving to others.

“He’s a wonderful guy,” said Debbie Withey. “Do you know how many in this community love him? He would give you the shirt off of his back.”

Gary Withey, back row center, is pictured with his family outside his Medina home this evening. The group includes, front row, from left: Debbie Withey (married to Kurt), Kathy Sharp, Barb Withey Williams and Mary Beth Withey (married to Carl). Back row: Georgia Withey (married to Eric), and the Withey brothers, Eric, Gary, Kurt and Carl.

Withey is a well-known local musician who owned Fischer’s Newsstand in Albion for more than 20 years until the business closed on April 30, 2015.  His wife was also well-liked. She was often at Fischer’s and worked in community relations for the Arc of Orleans. Denise battled a kidney disease and died on Feb. 27, 2015.

She and Gary married on Aug. 1, 1987 and have two grown daughters, Allyson and Kelsie.

After his wife’s death, Withey had a new roof put on the house, replaced the furnace and fixed up a bathroom. But he didn’t have enough money for more renovations. He admitted he felt overwhelmed with the house.

His family, led by sister Barb and sister-in-law Debbie, decided to take charge and give the house a makeover.

“We did it because we love him,” Debbie said. “The road has been bumpy for him. He needs it.”

Photo courtesy of Wayne Litchfield: Gary Withey plays the keyboards during a jam session this evening with some of his fellow musicians. Withey plays in three bands, as well as the worship band at the Albion Free Methodist Church.

Withey was home on April 1 after working that day as an aide at he Orleans-Niagara BOCES. It was late afternoon when he knew something was wrong. He was sweating profusely, and passed out twice in the upstairs of his home.

Withey tried to stay calm, and made it downstairs to his phone. A friend called, and Withey said he wasn’t feeling right. Then he slumped to the floor, and called 911.

He was having a heart attack. Medina Memorial Hospital gave him a clot buster so he was in good enough shape to fly by helicopter to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Withey praised the local hospital.

“I will credit Medina Memorial for saving my life,” Withey said.

He spent a week in the Rochester hospital and then about five weeks staying with his brother Kurt and sister-in-law Debbie in Albion. He praised the care from his family.

Gary Withey was happy to have some many friends and family over at his home today.

While in the hospital he was also diagnosed with stage 3 of a kidney disease. Withey changed to a strict low-potassium diet the past six weeks, and has been out walking and exercising.

Today, doctors told him there are no signs of the kidney disease.

“They are calling it a miracle,” he said.

He also returned to driving two weeks ago and is scheduled to return to work on June 5.

His sister, Barbara Withey Williams, is thankful her brother survived the heart attack. The family grew closer the past six weeks, even when they were painting or putting down carpet in his house.

Williams lives near Tampa. She is amazed how everyone seems to know her brother in Medina.

“Gary is like a little kid who is always smiling,” his sister said. “He always seems to bounce back no matter what happens to him. We just wanted to show him that we love him. We want him to live in a nice, cheerful environment.”

Withey is a big Boston Bruins fan, and his family made him a hockey room.

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