New York Times Portraits of Grief

Robert M. Murach

In the eighth grade, Robert M. Murach calmly took over as man of the house for the year that his father, a career military officer, was in Vietnam.

In school, when the rest of the class opted for French or Spanish to satisfy the language requirement, he learned Russian, just for the challenge. He worked as a parking valet to help put himself through Columbia College, took a job on Wall Street and then went to night school to earn an M.B.A. from Pace University.

So it was no surprise to his family that he wound up playing a pivotal role at Cantor Fitzgerald, where he was a senior vice president in the treasury department. Keeping track of Cantor's worldwide financial transactions, which on some days approached the trillion-dollar mark, was his responsibility.

''He always went after the difficult things, was always looking for something over and beyond the norm,'' said his brother Richard.

But Robert Murach, 45, was hardly all work and no play.

A die-hard Jets fan, he rarely missed a tailgate party; an aficionado of fine Scotch and cigars, he attended tastings at Keen's Chop House in Manhattan with like-minded colleagues.

In 2001, combining a reunion with an adventure, he rode the rapids in Idaho with teammates from his state championship-winning mile relay squad from Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

He lived in Montclair, N.J., with his wife, Laurie, and their two daughters, Madison and Haley.