"Because smiling is the best way I can think of
to honor my friend Paul J. Battaglia."
~ Seth Mates 9/14/01

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Mother's Memory

From Remember: September 11, 2001

Paul James Battaglia

World Trade Center

A Knack for Numbers

Paul J. Battaglia's mother, Elaine Leinung, likes to say that her son was "born at age 40."

Even as a preschooler, Mr. Battaglia, who was actually 22, had a knack for numbers. How else to explain a 4-year-old tallying the correct amount of change due even before the cashier at the grocery could? It happened a lot, Ms. Leinung said, and by age 10, he was balancing checkbooks.

"I would have such difficulty with it and complain," Ms. Leinung said. "It all started with his Commodore 64 computer when he was 9. He found his niche: numbers."

By his senior year at Regis High School in Manhattan, Mr. Battaglia had earned an internship with Marsh & McLennan. After he graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton, his internship turned into a position as a risk consultant. He was so proud of his job on the 100th floor of Tower 1 that he posted pictures of his office and his view of the Brooklyn Bridge (his home borough) on his Web site, Battaglia.org. One snapshot was mostly gray. "Cloudy day!" he wrote underneath.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 21, 2001.


A little Bio about Paul

big smileWhen you are only 22-years old, really, all of your Life is ahead of you. There is just no limit to your future. Those first 22 years were all simply the prologue to the rest of your life. Family, friends, and achievements are still ahead of you and the sky's the limit. Paul James Battaglia worked for McLennan & Marsh in World Trade Center Tower 1. He was a young computer whiz on the 100th floor, working as a Risk Consultant. A graduate of Binghamton University (State University of New York at Binghamton), a former BU radio station manager - WHRW - Paul was known to his friends as a cheerful, friendly, upbeat, young man.

Look at his picture. That's a great smile. Nearly every picture of Paul I've seen has that big smile, his eyes lit up in joy, happiness, expectation.


A Few Memories of Paul's Co-workers

From MMC's memorial pages to thier lost colleagues:

The BIG smile on Paul's face every morning always warms me. I worked with Paul on the 100th floor. Although, I was no longer working there for almost 1 month prior to the tragedy, but Paul will always call me up and say "Azmee ... when are we gonna hang out?"

The lunches at South Street Seaport with Ivy, the after hour drinks in Aubette with Armand and Andrew ... now that I'm back in Malaysia, and working for American Express, I miss my fellow Marsh collegues. It has never been the same.

Paul ... you are brilliant and charming. Marsh lost an asset! I still listen to the cds you made for me. And on 9/11/03, I will play it here in Kuala Lumpur, and you would say ... terrrrrific!! with a big smile :)

~ Azleen Azmee, 9/9/2003

Paul worked with Marsh Risk Finance during the summer of 1998 when we were still at the 125 Broad Steet address. He was such a fine young man and quickly acquired the nickname "Rocket" by his young associates because of his wizardry with the computer. We did not know that Paul had become a full-time employee until the terrible event of 9/11/01. My heart goes out to Paul's family and friends for this untimely, unnecessary loss.

~ Regina M. Motreuil [formerly Marsh Risk Finance], 9/17/2002


Paul's Friends Speak

smilingLook at his picture. That's a great smile. Nearly every picture of Paul I've seen has that big smile, his eyes lit up in joy, happiness, expectation. His friend, Kristin Fallon, left a tribute that says, in part,
"Paul was one of the few people I met at Binghamton whose smile could light up your life. The innocence, hope, confidence, and humanity behind his smile often made me take chances that I wouldn't have thought to before. "Relax, Fallon" I heard over and over again whenever I spoke to him. Destined to make a difference, Paul selflessly attempted to make me realize that life is too short to worry or not to take risks. He knew it long before this tragedy. He listened to people. He cared, and I know he continues to do so."
Take the time to read all of her thoughts.

Paul's friend Seth Mates wrote a tribute to Paul just days after the attack. In it, he says,
"As I sit here typing right now, three days after the tragedy, tears are still streaming down my face. A picture of Paul and I sits just inches in front of me on my desk, with Paul smiling that ear-to-ear smile that we are all so accustomed to. In fact, I was getting together some photos of Paul at work on Friday, and someone came over and asked, 'Was this guy always smiling?' It sure seemed like it."
See what I mean about the pictures of Paul? Seth goes on,
"Paul had this innate ability just to bring out the best in himself and the best in the people around him. I wouldn't be where I am today if not for him -- if he wasn't there to be a friend in college, and there to offer a kind word or a friendly face during the summer that I interned here, I would probably wouldn't be one of the happiest people in the world, doing exactly what I've always dreamed of doing.

His absence right now has caused an emptiness in my life and in the lives of many others which will never -can never - be filled."
Read Seth's words.

excellencePaul was not some smiling clown, if you're starting to think so. He was energetic and focused. Involved in the college radio station, Paul went to work to make it better than it had been. And he succeeded. So well that he was nominated for 'Student of the Year' at BU. Here you can read the letter written by Brian Napolitano, Seth Mates and Jeremy Klaff in April 1999, nominating Paul for Student Leader of the Year at BU. Take the time. Read it.

His friend from as far back as Paul's Regis High School days, Brian J. Manning, eulogized his friend, saying, in part,
"Paul never ceased to impress me, and it was always on so many levels. He had such an enviable relationship with his family; to watch him with anyone in his family, especially his mother Elaine, or his brother Eric, or his grandfather Jerry, was to witness love, and it was never short of amazing. At Binghamton, his leadership at WHRW was unprecedented; his ideas for the station ingenious; his enthusiasm incomparable. There were a number of Sunday evenings in college when I would be sitting home reading and the phone would ring. I'd answer, and I'd hear Paul say, "Beej, you're on the air. Don't curse!"

There were two things that Paul did recently that impressed me tremendously. The first was something that Paul wrote about in his application for business school, which he recently completed. He said that after working for about fifteen years in the business world, he planned to retire and begin a second career, most likely as a high school teacher. It was not something I'd ever heard him talk about, but it did not surprise me at all. It actually made a lot of sense. I saw it as a mark of his character. Paul always wanted to give back, and what better way than that.

The second thing was that for the past few months, he and Aline have been working for New York Cares on Saturday mornings, volunteering at different places around the city. This did surprise me a little; most of the volunteer work that Paul had done before this was probably more in the extracurricular vein of, for example, the Binghamton radio station. It had always been work where he could take a leadership role. Giving up Saturday mornings to work for New York Cares was something different. It was another form of Paul's desire to give back to his city, and it's proof that Paul had such a big heart."

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Closing Thoughts About Paul

So many things you could say, if you had known Paul Battaglia. I wish I had. As I said in my tribute to Gary H. Lee, I did not know a single person lost in the 9/11 attacks. Now I never will know any of them, save through tributes such as this one. Memories from his Family and friends, co-workers and acquaintances, are all that is left of the people lost on that day. Some left children, some left spouses, all left friends behind. And we can never meet these people now that they're gone.

But we can remember them. They are worthy of our remembrance. We must remember them. Paul’s Aunt Carol can have the final say:

"For Paul" - a poem by his Aunt Carol.
For Paul:

There are people sent from heaven …
Of this you can be sure
Their purpose is to share their love
Their example and much more

Their lives touch everyone they meet
Their smiles, a delight
A lasting friend to everyone
Regardless of the plight

Paul was one such person
We all know this is true
The lives he touched…the love he shared
Were more than just a few

He was a loving son and brother
Grandson, nephew, cousin too
Part of a large and loving family
And extended family too

He has friends in countless numbers
And one that stood apart
His loving girlfriend Aline,
who was closest to his heart.

Just looking through his website
We all can see the way
Paul touched so many people's lives
Brightened up so many days

The countless friends and followers
Who pray and weep and mourn
So many who will miss him
So many who are torn

We think about the reason
why God brought our Paul here
Suddenly the purpose
becomes very clear

Think of the lives this young man touched
The kind works he has done
He opened up his heart to all
Included everyone!

God told Paul when he came here
"your stay won't be too long,
need your strength to open hearts!
I need you to be strong!

Your presence will make a difference
to all the lives you touch…
And when you leave, your spirit will
Leave a lasting touch"

Paul, we will miss you… Love, Aunt Carol

(I am Paul's Aunt Carol. I grew up with his father in Brooklyn, NY. I have written a poem for him, and I will have it available at his memorial Mass on October 6th [2001].)

GOD Bless you Paul Battaglia. You have not been forgotten.

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