New York Times Portraits of Grief

Frank De Martini

Frank De Martini had a passion for old cars, motorcycles, sailing and everything Italian. He also loved restoring Brooklyn brownstones, and was fascinated with the World Trade Center. Mr. De Martini, an architect, started working at the twin towers when he was hired to assess the damage from the 1993 bombing. He stayed on, becoming the construction manager, the man to see when you wanted to move a wall or rearrange the plumbing. Mr. De Martini's wife, Nicole, also worked in the towers, and their children, Sabrina, 10, and Dominic, 8, could often be seen splashing around in the pool at the complex's Marriott Hotel.

Compact and athletic, Mr. De Martini, 49, once used a baseball bat to chase away an intruder who had picked the wrong brownstone. "He was really very fearless," said Michael Prager, a longtime friend. When the north tower was struck, Nicole De Martini was just leaving her husband's office on the 88th floor. Finding a stairway that was still intact, he ushered her to safety. But he refused to follow just then because others needed help. "He saw himself very much as a protector," Mr. Prager said.