Joseph J. Zuccala
He was my best friend
The term "best friend" is something that rolls off our tongues very easily during our lives. Maybe it was that kid you sat next to in kindergarten or the one who lived down the street that you climbed trees with. Maybe it was that special person who shared four years with you in high school or your college fraternity [you know, the one you haven't seen since graduation so many years ago]. We've all had many who we have generously given the label "best friend".
I had a special one who was taken from me on September 11th. When I talk with people about that incredible day, I always tell them "I lost my best friend". It was not until the memorial service for Joe at St. Patrick's Cathedral last September that I really understood what that meant. During the service, my wife told me to look around. The Cathedral was packed. Who were these people and where did they come from? That's when I realized, they were here to remember my "best friend"...their "best friend".
I have never met anyone who was "best friend" to so many people. Joe's wife, Madeleine, as well as, his two daughters, Jolaine and Kaylene, not only lost a husband and father, they also lost their best friend. He was best friend to his three sisters and even all of his in-laws. So many individuals whose lives he touched came to St. Patrick's that day to remember their best friend: his fraternity brothers at the University of Dayton; his fellow Army officers who lived with him in Korea; many of his unofficially adopted kids from our neighborhood who he helped nurture to young adulthood; his colleagues whose careers he enhanced at Societe Generale, Arab American Bank and Citigroup; his friends from Westchester who loved to party with him even after they moved to California. It seems as if the only one who lost their best friend that day and not in attendance was Joe's Yellow Lab, Bailey-a classic role reversal... "dog's best friend".
Words cannot give justice to why we all feel this way. It may have been his sense of humor; his love for having a good time; his sage advice. I'm sure all would agree that it was, primarily, his big heart. Joe would always be there if you needed him. He loved his family, his dogs, goodmusic and an enjoyable meal followed by a fine cigar. Most of all he loved each of us, his best friends. We miss you Big Guy. We love you.
Tribute written by Tim Horgan; submitted by Madeleine Zuccala.
'Everybody's Best Friend'
Joe Zuccala left a big void when he died, and not just because he was 6-foot-5 and weighed about 275. Mr. Zuccala, 54, a banking consultant who was at Fuji Bank in the south tower on Sept. 11, was, as his pal Tim Horgan put it, "everybody's best friend," and that included his wife, Madeleine, his two daughters and Mr. Horgan's two sons.
Mr. Zuccala's appetite for life and for fun, especially music, matched his size. Generally, he was an oldies guy. He gave a party at his house in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., a few years ago; everyone had to come dressed as they did for their high school prom. But he was branching out. A few weeks before he died, Mr. Zuccala was persuaded, against his better judgment, to attend a Bon Jovi concert at the Meadowlands. "His wife was really into them, but he didn't want to go," Mr. Horgan said. "But by the end of the evening, to the extent that he could dance, he was dancing in the aisles."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 10, 2002.