LIVINGSTON, NJ - Ilan Altman, 46, of Livingston died on March 28, just shy of his 47th birthday, from complications stemming from Type II diabetes. He was the son of Adele Altman and the late Morris, brother of Alisa and Eric Weissman and uncle of Amanda, 13 and Ally, 10.
Ilan was a quiet and gentle person who was known for his great smile. He was also very private, which is why his death at such a young age seems especially sudden to many in the community.
“He was in tremendous shape and was an endurance runner, but he was also battling diabetes,” said Eric. “But true to his nature, he didn’t let people know how bad it was because he didn’t want people to worry about him.”
“In the past few days, no one has had a bad word to say about Ilan,” said Eric. “Everyone has been saying that he was such a nice and caring person. We have been greatly comforted in meeting and talking to all who cared for him in all aspects of his life. He will be sorely missed by all.”
Friends have shared that Ilan was also a lot of fun, full of passion and had a zest for life. He especially enjoyed spending time with friends and skiing.
“At times in our group, we did crazing things as teenagers and then wild things when we were older,” said LHS ’86 graduate, Michael Borbone of Ilan. “Whatever it was and whomever it was with, it was full of fun and full of laughs.”
“One thing about Ilan, he was the most positive and energetic person I/we knew,” said Borbone. “Whatever he did—he did it with incredible passion. He was also humble and selfless.”
Borbone added, “We had a true friendship that was so pure, it was so easy. We were great friends, and although we spent a lot of time training and enjoying trips to race...and party, we were dear friends. I loved Ilan like a brother and a best friend. The last few years, as he got sick and was taking care of his parents, I saw less of him, but we were never less close.”
Ilan grew up in town. He attended Riker Hill Elementary School, Mount Pleasant Middle School and LHS. He spent a lot of time in his youth playing street hockey and ice hockey with friends.
Glen Lansky, who grew up with Ilan and moved to Florida in 11th grade said, “I remember Ilan having the best wrist-shot in street hockey.”
Following his 1986 graduation from Livingston High School, Ilan decided to explore the working world instead of jumping into college mode. He spent some time living down the shore working in bars and restaurants as a bartender, waiter, manager, and deejay—under the name Deejay Ski, a reference to his love of skiing.
Always artistic and creative, Ilan next went to Parsons School of Design, during his 30’s. Those who remember him from his youth share memories of his custom-made sweatshirts with painted album covers—a testament to his future career as a graphic designer for “Time Out New York” and “OK! Magazine.” According to his family, Ilan loved being in the city, being a part of the art scene, and enjoyed the vitality and the energy of NYC.
Later, he began running marathons, Iron Mans and triathlons. His joy for the sport is evident on his Facebook page. He was known to be extremely fast.
Ilan also liked to cook, and while living at home with his mom over the past few years, he made dinner for her regularly—generally after shopping at Whole Foods.
Ilan was also devoted to his sister and her family. He loved his nieces, who called him Unkie and especially enjoyed playing games and doing art projects on the computer with them. According to Eric, “It’s entirely possible all of this took place, while the three of them were listening to Pink Floyd.”
Long-time childhood friend and Livingston resident Peter Gelman gave the following Eulogy at the funeral, “Ilan and I—we called each other ‘E’ and ‘P,’ grew up on the hard streets of Cliffside Drive and North Westgate Road. Growing up, I spent most of my weekends at the Altman home, and at that time in our lives, I was always treated like family. Adele, but at that time it was always ‘Mrs. Altman’ to me, made the best tuna fish and she knew it (every time I saw Ilan—that's the first thing we talked about). So, every time I came over, there was always a fresh bowl of her famous tuna! To this day, nobody has held a candle to the tuna!
Also, that was the first time I was introduced to Mallomars! Ilan and I used to eat those things like they were going out of style. I guess that's why we were hardly at my house—because all you saw there were fruits and vegetables.
Ilan and I knew each other since nursery school. We went to Riker Hill together, and in the summers we spent our time at Jeff Lakes.
Unfortunately, we went to different middle schools, but that didn't change anything. I actually pulled out my Bar Mitzvah photo album and found a great picture of us together. His smile lit up the room.
We did a lot of things together and always had a great time doing them. Whether it was sports or games or just hanging out—we loved each other's company.
Alisa would chase us around the house always trying to catch us. Alisa, I don't know if you remember this, but I always got you to belly laugh by being able to burp at any time.
‘E’ I am going to miss you my friend. Rest in peace. ‘P’”
His death hit his LHS classmates hard, with many attending his funeral and paying Shivah calls at the home of the Weissmans. One LHS friend, Heidi Blum, used the situation to create a Livingston High School Class of 1986 Facebook page for friends to share thoughts and memories of Ilan and to catch up. In less than four hours, the group had over 240 members. It now boasts 280 and is still growing.
“For members of the amazing LHS Class of '86, please use this group page to keep us all informed of the good and bad,” said Blum in a post to the site. “We rally together either way!”
“Ilan was not only a special guy, he was always an incredibly fun friend to be around,” said Borbone. “Whether we are together or not, we can celebrate his life ‘together’ by embracing his enthusiasm and his contagious laugh."
“We needed something like this,” said Gelman in a Facebook post. “It's just sad we have to all meet like this. Ilan was one of my closest friends growing up and I am going to miss him terribly. From now on let's post happier times! Love to all.”
“Ilan was a good man taken way too soon,” said Adam Slavitt, of Livingston, who graduated with Ilan.
“I remember Ilan's smile (perpetual), his funniness and his laugh like it was yesterday,” said 1986 LHS grad Candace Feldman. “My thoughts are with his family....Ilan was truly special.”
On Monday, Kiki Siegel, a friend of Ilan’s wrote, “I felt Ilan's spirit and soul from the spray if the ocean’s wave this morning, and saw him fly away. Hashem has him now and will take care of him forever. His spirit and smile will still be forever embedded in my heart.”
Eric said that the family is aware of the new Facebook page and said, “If this unfortunate, heart-wrenching, way-too-early end to a life will remind people to slow down in their lives and reconnect—Ilan would be pleased that his legacy has had such a strong impact.”
“Even as a tremendous creative artist, wonderful and sought-after DJ, and endurance athlete with unbelievable times—Ilan never bragged about himself, he only bragged about his nieces. He will be missed by all.”
Borbone, who often trained with and ran with Ilan said, "I just told Alisa, I start training tomorrow. Not sure where this will end up, but I will do a race in honor of our awesome Ilan."
Many people have been asking where they can make a donation in Ilan’s name and the family has said that an appropriate fund is being determined. They will let everyone know shortly.