Abraham J. Zelmanowitz "Abe"
Occupation:Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield | Computer ProgrammerPersonal Memorial Website:http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/memorial/people/4295.htmlReflections:The New York Times Portraits of Grief
Abe (Avremel) Zelmanowitz 12/30/45 – 9/11/01 Abe was a seemingly ordinary man, a youthful 55 years old, friendly and funny but never loud, talented in many ways but rarely the center of attention. Abe was one of those instinctively creative individuals – beyond merely “handy” – who found a use for every odd bit of raw material around the house. Wood from an old piece of furniture was reincarnated as wall shelves; small pieces of Lucite became a uniquely striking chess set. He was invariably the one who showed up to help install light fixtures, move furniture, paint the garage door. He was also the utterly devoted son who, for many years, walked for over an hour each way, every Sabbath morning, winter or summer, (as an Orthodox Jew he was prohibited from riding in a car on the Sabbath) to spend time with his elderly father, taking him to the synagogue and eating the Sabbath lunch meal with him and then returning home to spend the remainder of the day at his brother’s home. Abe hadn’t married; he shared a house with his brother and sister-in-law and their family and was always an integral part of the Zelmanowitz household. He was adored by his nieces and nephews and their friends, as well, - their Uncle Avremel, - especially for his masterful storytelling talent. As someone who mattered to and was needed by so many, Abe was a “family man” in every sense of the word. At the same time he had his own life; his varied interests included the Torah lectures that he attended, golfing alongside his brother Jack and watching football games with him, creating culinary delights, especially his masterpiece, “Uncle Avremel’s Relish”, and a job and friends to which he was characteristically devoted. One such friend was Ed Beyea with whom Abe worked for the twelve years that he was employed by Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Ed was a quadriplegic ever since sustaining a devastating injury in a diving incident when he was 21 years old. Even though they came from such different backgrounds - Ed was a Christian and Abe an Orthodox Jew - they had many common interests. They enjoyed the same music, from Andrea Bocelli and the 3 Tenors to the Beatles, exchanged books, videos and DVD’s, played computer golf and chess and went out to dinner frequently with other co-workers. If Abe made the reservations he’d make sure that the restaurant was wheelchair-accessible, and if Ed made the reservations he’d make sure that the place was kosher. On that fateful, dreadful day, after the first plane crashed into the North Tower, when others were fleeing the building, Abe chose to remain with Ed. Ed’s aide, Irma Fuller, had been on a higher floor and was coughing badly. Abe told Irma that he would stay with Ed and that she should leave and send a rescue team to help carry Ed down the stairs. We subsequently learned from Mike Burke, that his brother, Captain William Burke of the New York City Fire Department, was with them at the end. Tragically, they all perished. Countless people from all over the country and all over the world have contacted the family, stating how moved and inspired they were to learn of Abe’s truly heroic, compassionate act, a beacon of hope for all mankind at the time of the commission of such unspeakable evil. On the Friday following 9/11, President Bush, in his speech at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., mentioned this man who wouldn’t leave the side of his quadriplegic friend and stayed with him to the end. May his memory be blessed! Jack and Evelyn Zelmanowitz and Family