Painter in the Clouds
He felt he worked on top of the world. Some days, the clouds would just pass right through him.
Robert A. Campbell was a painter, and he was assigned to the top of the World Trade Center. He found it so tranquil up there, far removed from life's struggles. He was employed by Fine Painting and Decorating. He had been doing the observation deck and the window-cleaning equipment. On Sept. 11, his parents believe, he was on the roof.
Mr. Campbell, 25, lived with his parents, Robert and Maureen Campbell, in Brooklyn, and he was an insistent idealist. When he was a Cub Scout, he was picked to speak at a meeting of labor leaders, and he spoke of how important it was to get along with others and to be helpful. Some day, he said, maybe he would end up being the president of a labor union. "He believed in the American dream — that everybody had a chance in life and that if you worked together you could really accomplish something," his mother said.
He enjoyed long rides in the country, where he could gaze at the trees. He kept hundreds of pictures of trees. To his parents, they looked alike; he would point out the differences.
He had begun college in the evenings to study business administration. He thought he might move into the management of a painting company. His first day of classes was Sept. 10.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 30, 2001.