New York Times Portraits of Grief

Fredric Neal Gabler

Fredric Neal Gabler's idea of heaven was to live surrounded by his friends, on the same block or perhaps in some suburban compound. Friends sometimes thought he was joking when he talked about this dream of "communal living," but he meant every word, his family says.

It would have had to be a sizable place. More than 1,500 people, including his sister Jolie and his parents, Howard and Leslie Gabler, attended his memorial service on Sept. 23 at Temple Beth Torah in Upper Nyack, N.Y. "He was happiest when he was surrounded by the ones he loved," his wife, Mindy, told the crowd.

This dream compound would also have been neat and comfortable. (Mr. Gabler and a college roommate once traded blows over the roommate's refusal to meet his housekeeping standards.) And it would have been filled with the sounds of sports -- part of the glue that held his friendships together.

Fred Gabler, 30, an equity trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, met Mindy when they were both 16. His sports-hardened good looks and his father's Camaro were the first attractions, she told his friends, but his loving nature, honesty and sense of humor kept her at his side. They lived in Manhattan and were expecting their first child, a daughter, this month.

At his memorial service, his father -- who escaped on Sept. 11 from his own offices in the World Trade Center -- told mourners that the only thing missing from his son's life "was length." Taking in the overflow crowd, he said, "You are his eulogy."