New York Times Portraits of Grief

Manuel Damota

For Manuel DaMota, woodworking was translating. But it was a translation process that worked with images, not words. Architects would concoct fanciful designs, and Mr. DaMota would translate their elaborate visions from paper into wood. His work could be as elaborate as making jewelry -- with glass marbles, aluminum and fabric that all had to be embedded into the woodwork.

As a project manager for Bronx Builders, Mr. DaMota, 43, had worked with architects like David Rockwell and Jeffrey Beers to do the interiors for fine restaurants including the Russian Tea Room, Nobu Next Door and Tuscan Steak. But he also worked for the children of the North Presbyterian Head Start program, where he built a miniature mahogany building complete with windows.

"He loved working with wood," said his wife, Barbara. "You could see it from the way he talked about it."

He always said yes when asked to do another project. "He was busy, so we only went to the beach once this past summer," said Christopher, Mr. DaMota' s 10-year-old son. Mr. DaMota had two other sons, with a fourth child on the way.

His latest project was a wine room for another top Manhattan restaurant, Windows on the World.