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A coast away, pals aid search

Jerry Tang hasn't called Framingham his home for many years, but his childhood friends are doing whatever they can to track down the missing 1983 Framingham North graduate-turned-high-tech-engineer.

''He would never leave his family without explanation," said college friend Naomi Sutherland of Needham.

Tang, 39, was last seen on the morning of Nov. 29 in the San Francisco home he shared with his wife, Joyce, and their two young sons. He told his wife he wasn't feeling well, and e-mailed his employer, San Mateo-based startup Smalltown, saying he wouldn't be in that day. Then he vanished.

Police officers and volunteer search parties have repeatedly canvassed the city and sections of Golden Gate Park, but come up empty. Traces on his credit cards and bank accounts have also been fruitless -- they haven't been used.

Tang disappeared with little cash and without any medication to control his seizures, the side effect of a stroke he suffered two years ago. He is likely disoriented and confused, friends say, with no idea of how to get help.

It's not your average missing-person case. Word has spread far beyond Tang's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and northern California. His tight-knit group of buddies from Framingham and college friends from the University of Pennsylvania are frantically reaching out to anyone who knew him in the slim hope that he returned to Framingham, or contacted any of his childhood connections.

A long shot, maybe. But at least it's something to help you feel useful when you live 3,000 miles away.

''I am thinking about him all the time. It's frustrating to be out here and not able to be out there looking" said Michael Getman, now an Ashland resident. In high school, he and Tang played in a rock band called Brave New World. Guitarist Getman and Tang, a keyboardist, covered Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd hits and played their share of video games at Fun & Games on Route 9, a popular hangout of the era. ''He was the sort of person who was the center of attention, but not because he demanded it. Everyone was just drawn to him."

Just two months before he vanished, Tang was back home for a much-anticipated reunion of old Framingham friends, the Oct. 2 wedding of David Pruskin, with whom he attended Juniper Hill elementary school.

Tang gave a spontaneous and touching toast to enduring friendship that day, said Pruskin, now living in Newton.

Early last month, Pruskin flew to San Francisco and spent several days helping with the search, co-organized by another Framingham North friend, Steve Ginsberg, who lives in the Bay area.

''I think it's important that people maintain that degree of hope. There is no reason to go into complete grief, because we don't know where he is," Pruskin said. The networks that have sprung up to help -- a buzzing Yahoo! group and website dedicated to the search -- have done much to spread the word.

Ginsberg said searchers have put Tang's name on every missing-person database they could find and distributed fliers among the city's homeless population.

Another 1983 Framingham North grad and close friend, Joel Bassuk, recently arrived in the Bay area from his home in England to help in the search.

''Jerry's a phenomenal person. That's why you are seeing this level of response," Ginsberg said.

''He is very much missed," Tang's wife said on Thursday. ''We so appreciate everything people are doing to get the word out and help find him." The Christmas holiday was a difficult time for their sons, ages 4 and 7, she said. ''It was really hard through the holidays to not have dad there."

Framingham native Anne Weinstein, who now lives in Needham, said the effort has revived many old connections. Tang was a sort of social glue, friend to both young people and their parents, many of whom are still local.

''This has shown the power of personal connections and of the Internet," she said. ''People here are really impacted, even though it's happening all the way on the Left Coast."

For more information on the search for Jerry Tang, go to

Erica Noonan can be reached at

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