Loved Wine, Hated Silence
Charles Henry Karczewski did not have children, but he might as well have. His two dogs, Princess, a yellow Labrador, and Baby, a cocker spaniel, are devastated that he is gone, said his wife, Philomena. "Every male person that walks in the house they look at, and you see the disappointment in their eyes," she said. For comfort, they are sleeping with one of Mr. Karczewski's dirty shirts.
His dogs and his wife were only two of Mr. Karczewski's passions. He loved "that stupid trade center," as she put it, where he had worked for three years as a benefits consultant for the Aon Corporation. Every time they drove by the buildings, he would say, "I work there."
He loved to talk, and hated silence. He loved wine and the beach. He loved the stock market, even when it was on the downswing ("You never marry a stock," he liked to say), and had started a stock club.
Mr. Karczewski, 34, loved to vacation, often in adventurous ways - sky-diving, canoeing, kayaking. He had been to Italy, Bermuda and Alaska, among other places. This month, he and his wife were planning to go to Arizona. The books he had ordered about hiking the Grand Canyon arrived last week.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 3, 2001.
Charles Karczewski, 34, an adventurer
An e-mail from Chuck Karczewski was unpredictable -- it could stun you with the name of a charity he'd promised you would contribute to or contain a comic formula for building a championship Rutgers University football team.
"He would say if we could look at some police rosters and see who was available to play, maybe we could have a winning team," said his friend James Wiggins, a California osteopath who attended Rutgers with Mr. Karczewski in the late 1980s.
They were witty and good-natured missives, typical of the 34-year-old Union Township man, an insurance benefits consultant who loved adventure and gave generously to churches, Boy Scouts, the United Way and others.
"He was so full of life and so willing to give, a very charitable person," Wiggins said. "Now that he's gone, I really don't look at my e-mail too much."
Charles "Chuck" Henry Karczewski phoned his wife on Sept. 11, leaving a voice mail message at her job that described the fiery plane crash at One World Trade Center.
From the offices of AON Corp., an insurance and consulting firm on the 102nd floor of the South Tower, Mr. Karczewski said he would call again when he arrived safely downstairs. That was the last Philomena Karczewski would hear from him.
Mrs. Karczewski watched on television as a second plane slammed into the South Tower.
"That's my husband," she recalled telling a co-worker. "In my eyes, I saw him get killed."
Mrs. Karczewski remembered her spouse of 61/2 years as an adventure seeker who enjoyed skydiving in Sussex County, kayaking in the Pacific Ocean and snorkeling and parasailing in the Caribbean.
"He had a serious side, but he liked to live on the edge," said Kim Ferguson of Hillsborough, a friend since second grade.
Mrs. Karczewski said her husband loved to travel. For his 30th birthday, she surprised him with a Baja, Calif., vacation, wrapping the airline tickets in his swim trunks.
He had no children, but doted on a cocker spaniel named "Baby" and a yellow Labrador retriever, "Princess," that, since Sept. 11, sleeps on a bed of Mr. Karczewski's old shirts and usually refuses to eat.
Princess "looks at everyone who comes in, and when she realizes it's not him, she puts her head down and walks away," Philomena Karczewski said.
Mr. Karczewski was born in Bayonne, but spent his entire life in Union, his wife said.
Mr. Karczewski also is survived by his parents, Rose and Henry Karczewski of Union, and a sister, Donna Kavanaugh of Jackson.
A memorial gathering will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 27 at Haeberle & Barth in Union, followed by a memorial Mass at St. Genevieves Church in Elizabeth.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Charles H. Karczewski Memorial Scholarship, c/o the Rutgers University Foundation, 7 College Ave., New Brunswick, N.J. 08901.
Profile by Russell Ben-Ali published in THE STAR-LEDGER.