Death of ‘saint’ shocks friends

The sudden death of one of the pillars of Bernal Heights has friends and residents in the tight-knit community reeling.

David Ayoob, who owned Four Star Video on Cortland Avenue and resided in the neighborhood, died of an unexpected massive heart attack on Sunday, but not before leaving a lasting legacy on the community that he fought hard to improve, according to friends.

Ayoob was a longtime community activist who worked to protect small business and issues involving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The 53-year-old native San Franciscan was the caretaker and provider for both his sick partner and mother, according to Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who rents movies from his store.

“He always had something positive to say and really he was a neighborhood saint,” the supervisor said. “Nurturer doesn’t describe the man. The fact that he was only 53 and the caretaker of two people only adds to the shock.”

Despite any challenges he endured, the father of two daughters, aged 24 and 22, was known for his big heart and the way he took care of people, according to Cathie Guntli, the owner of Liberty Café on Cortland Avenue.

“One thing regardless of how testing things were in his life or others, he always found the positive and he was always upbeat and said, ‘Just hang in there, things will get better,’” she said.

His video store was known as a place where community members could gather and share their stories on a bad day, according to Guntli. His business partner, Jeremy Lin, said Ayoob always had an ear to lend.

“I just know that he was here for customers through thick and thin,” he said. “He was half-Italian and he had this very kind of Italian approach to businesses, that everyone is family and business should be filled with love and everything should be heartfelt.”

Ayoob was obsessed with beautifying and protecting his neighborhood and in particular Cortland Avenue, according to friends. He could often be seeing wearing his distinctive bright clothes with a top hat while he swept the street daily.

“That’s also a part of his character,” Lin said. “You couldn’t miss him on Cortland Avenue and you didn’t want to miss him because he would always have a hug for you or some good words.”

The former co-president of the Cortland Avenue Merchants Association was also an integral part of keeping the community safe.

“He was very supportive of community policing efforts on Cortland Avenue,” police Capt. Paul Chignell said.

The Board of Supervisors will read a special in memoriam for Ayoob at its next meeting on Tuesday, according to Ammiano. The meeting will be closed in honor of the video store owner and official condolences will be sent to Ayoob’s family.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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