New York Times Portraits of Grief
James W. Barbella was a former United States marine, and that made certain of his habits — the day-to-day decisions he'd be likely to make, the course he might be expected to take in a crisis — quite predictable, said his widow, Monica.
It was not enough, for example, for Mr. Barbella, a 53-year-old property manager for the Port Authority, to simply climb 110 flights of stairs during his fitness routine, which he often fitted into his lunch hour. That would be wimpy. Instead, he would go down all the way to the subbasement of the World Trade Center and begin his climb there. And it was also not enough to simply climb to the top. He would descend by the stairs as well.
Mr. Barbella, who was responsible for floors 9 to 40 in the south tower, lived in Oceanside, N.Y., on Long Island, and had worked for the Port Authority for 28 years. He was last seen ushering three police officers up the stairs during the evacuation of the Trade Center just before its collapse.
"I knew, as soon as I heard, that that's exactly where he would be," Mrs. Barbella said. "He would never give up."