Schenectady County

Restaurateur killed in freak accident recalled as kind, hard-working

The part owner of Bangkok Bistro was remembered Wednesday as a hardworking, kind man who wasn’t afra

The part owner of Bangkok Bistro was remembered Wednesday as a hardworking, kind man who wasn’t afraid to try new things — whether it be riding a motorcycle or starting a new business venture.

About 100 friends, family and colleagues gathered at St. Helen’s Church to say good-bye to Israel “Bobby” Silva, who died Saturday when his head was caught in a dumbwaiter inside the basement kitchen just after 1 a.m. He was just 30 years old.

His father, Paul Rankin said, he remembers his son as a smart and observant young man who eagerly plunged into new things — whether it be motorcycling off road or riding a bicycle down a steep trail.

“He crashed — broke his elbow, broke it badly but he really sucked it up, show how tough he was physically and mentally,” Rankin said. “He got up and said ‘I think I sprained my elbow.’ He rode down the rest of that hill.”

His son chose to play catcher on his Little League team — one of the most difficult positions in baseball. He practiced very hard and went on to become an all-star. He also liked camping and fishing.

His son was an honor roll student who decided to join the Navy and go through the difficult training to become a submariner and learn about nuclear reactors. He served his country proudly and won several accolades, but Rankin said Silva was modest about his success.

“One time, I saw a bunch of certificates from the Navy in the trunk of his car,” he said.

When he left the Navy, he took on the challenge of running a business.

“Israel met that challenge head-on and worked tirelessly — so much so, I was concerned for his health,” he said.

Rankin remembered when Silva decided to renovate a second restaurant and they worked together on the project.

Someone had stolen the plumbing from the building. He and his son worked from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. for an entire week to make the repairs. “That was the privilege of my life,” he said.

Aram Silva said his brother was very loving and supportive and the hardest-working man he ever met.

He was able to go to school and hold down a job and a loving family including high school sweetheart Mary Phan Silva. He asked Israel if there were enough hours in the day.

“He looked at me with that grin on his face and said, ‘Bro, I just do it.’ ”

He had a way of making everyone feel important, Silva said.

Jim Papaliosas of Colonie said Silva was very easygoing.

“Anybody could be friends with him. He really grew into a staple of downtown Schenectady. Everybody used to go to Bangkok,” he said.

Jason Serra of Ballston Spa said Silva was an awesome friend and colleague at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory. “He would go out of his way to do anything for anybody,” he said.

The Rev. Robert Longobucco told people to think of Silva as being one candle of life in the midst of the sad darkness.

“That one candle in the night is the one flicker of love we need to do amazing things,” he said.

Longobucco said his friends looked up to Silva. He said people should remember the moments they had with him. “Those memories make the light grow stronger,” he said.

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