New York Times Portraits of Grief

 
MAN OF INNER PEACE
Kenneth Swenson

Leslie Swenson's favorite memory of her husband, Kenneth Swenson, is the day of the balloons. It was late May or early June, and the couple and their two sons, 10-year- old Kyle and 13-year-old Eric, were at a local field in Chatham, N.J. kicking a ball around. Suddenly, balloons of all colors floated from the sky and landed on the field. "He brought them over to me and said, `I ordered these for you,' " Mrs. Swenson said.

Mr. Swenson, 40, was a vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald. "He was a great father to our two sons," his wife said. "He enjoyed taking them on camping trips. That was their father-son activity."

There was not much spare time in Mr. Swenson's life, but on Saturday nights he was a volunteer medical technician with Chatham's emergency squad, just like his father before him. Richard Rosenblum, a friend, said that Mr. Swenson was one of the first to marry, because he wanted a family.

He also retained his baby face long after the rest of them fought hair loss and weight gain. "He was like a piece of buttered bread," he said of Mr. Swenson. "No friction, no hassle. He was a peaceful guy, but no one took advantage of him. He was a man about things."