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Gary Albero

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Never judge a broker by his collar. Take Gary Albero. He was a good insurance broker: urbane and vigorous, and he could sell. That's what led him to 2 World Trade Center for a breakfast meeting. But it was not the money or the numbers that appealed to him, said his wife, Aracelis. "He liked talking," she said. "He liked people and the job fit him." Consider the private life of Gary Albero, who was 39 and lived in Emerson, N.J. He often volunteered at a local homeless shelter and sometimes slept there because he was interested in the lives of the homeless. He would come home, put on a white collar and go off to conquer Wall Street. Gary Albero met a boy some years ago who came from a troubled family. Mr. Albero took him under his wing, took him to ball games and coached him in football. When it was time for the young man to go off to college, Mr. Albero was there to help pack his belongings and drive him to his dormitory. They hugged; the man gave the boy some money and reminded him that he could be anything he wanted to be. The Alberos had their own child, a boy, a year and a half ago. "That was the happiest day of his life," Mrs. Albero said. I didn't know Gary all that well, but what I did know, I liked a helluva lot. We played together on a touch football team for five years in the Yorkville Sports Association League. Trivial as that may sound, I often recall those Sunday afternoons on the fields of Grand Street or Central Park as some of the happiest times I've spent in New York. Like the rest of us, Gary was just an overgrown kid, reluctant to say goodbye to a game he loved. Thinking back, it must have been funny to the casual observer to see the twelve members of "The Gunners" storm into our favorite post-game watering hole, uniforms caked with mud, to relive the glory of the past few hours. In our own inconsequential way, we were a force--a group of friends that, in the company of each other, felt acutely alive. That's how I'll remember Gary. As a tough, yet lighthearted part of a very special band of brothers. God Bless You, Gary