'Our Life of the Party'
Anyone who ever heard the message on Benito Valentin's cellphone knows something about how he chose to live life, always looking for a laugh and a little fun. Ever the comedian, Mr. Valentin, 33, who worked for American Express, teased his callers with a message that said: "Hello, hello, how you doing? Oh, this is a recording."
Now Grissel Valentin, the woman he married on Valentine's Day 11 years ago, the mother of his three girls, calls to hear his voice two, sometimes three, times a day. It is a link to the man who, when he was not making people laugh, rushed home from work to talk baseball and dance salsa with his daughters, Danyelle, Jailene and Alyssa. "He was our life of the party," Mrs. Valentin said. "As long as I can hear his voice, I have hope that he isn't lying somewhere crushed but just trapped. We miss him too much to believe he's gone."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 28, 2001.