Dennis G. Taormina Jr., vice president for finance at Marsh & McLennan, was not one to put on airs. "Everyday when he came home from work, the suit came off, and the Fire Department T-shirt and the Cowboys shorts came on," Diane Taormina said.
Her husband, who was 36 and a member of the East Rutherford volunteer Fire Department, was a huge Cowboys fan, she said. "My husband wasn't into fancy cars or clothes. He was just low-key."
Mr. Taormina, whom his wife described as quiet, also liked to draw, and had a garage full of woodworking tools at their Montville, N.J., home that he used to make her a Chippendale mirror and a desk for their daughter with Queen Anne legs.
For their 10th wedding anniversary on Sept. 7, the Taorminas and their children -- Meghan, 9, and Jenna, 5 -- went out to dinner. Mr. Taormina and his wife had picked out a diamond ring for her to commemorate the event, but it wasn't ready immediately.
At the memorial service for her husband last month, her parents gave it to her, a ring with round and baguette diamonds. "It's the last thing he gave me," she said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 5, 2001.
Dennis Taormina, 36, a family-first dad
When Dennis Taormina's youngest daughter, Jenna, started kindergarten in Montville last month, he took the day off from work so he could see her off and be there when she got home.
"When she got off the bus . . . she ran right into his arms," his wife, Diane Taormina, said.
Mr. Taormina, 36, a vice president for finance at Marsh & McLennan, was working in the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the first hijacked plane hit the building on Sept. 11.
The Friday before the attacks, Dennis and Diane Taormina celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary by taking their daughters, Jenna, 5, and Meghan, 9, out to dinner.
"We wanted to be with them," Diane Taormina said.
The couple met in high school, when Diane was 14 and Dennis was 15, and had been together for 21 years. She said she knew from the beginning they would be married one day. "He always had a smile on, always happy," she said.
The family's hobby was travel, whether it was their summer vacation in Cape Cod, Mass., a pilgrimage to DisneyWorld, or their semiannual trip to Williamsburg, Va., to tour the colonial sites.
Mr. Taormina grew up in East Rutherford and graduated from Montclair State University with honors, his wife said.
As the son of a fireman, Mr. Taormina followed in the family tradition and was a volunteer firefighter for 18 years in East Rutherford.
Even after the Taorminas moved to Montville three years ago, Mr. Taormina stayed active in the East Rutherford department. He stopped by the firehouse weekly, helped with fund-raisers and the accounting, and would answer calls if needed.
He strongly believed in the importance of education and would often talk to young volunteers about staying in school, said childhood friend Alan DeRosa of East Rutherford.
"He would always preach to them: Get to school on time, do your work, and on your free time you can be a volunteer," he said.
Diane Taormina said she worried about her husband when he was out on a fire call, but she had faith in him.
"I always felt like he knew what he was doing and that he'd find his way out," his wife said. "That's why this has been so hard for me.
"You think of all the things he would have loved to see that he won't see," she added. "My husband used to say to my daughter, 'When you're 12, you won't want to hold my hand anymore.' Now my daughter says, 'I was going to always hold his hand.' She wants to kiss him good night."
In addition to his wife and daughters, Mr. Taormina is survived by his parents, Dennis and Linda of East Rutherford; three brothers, Jeff of Nutley, and Phillip and James, both of East Rutherford; three nephews and a niece.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Oct. 20 in St. Pius X Church in Montville.
Profile by Kristen Alloway published in THE STAR-LEDGER.