A Bundle of Energy
When Joseph Milanowycz visited ground zero two Sundays ago, he roamed around, wondering where his son, Gregory, was. "We don't have anything but an urn," said Joseph Milanowycz. "He was a bundle of energy, and now there is no energy."
His 25-year-old son, a manager at Aon, lived with his parents in Cranford, N.J. He was the household handyman, fixing plumbing and electric appliances, but his true love was golfing. "Whenever he had time, he would go to the golf courses and team up with whoever was there to play," Joseph Milanowycz said. "He could socialize with anyone. It doesn't matter whether you are a teenager, or middle-aged, or 102."
And he often traded golf clubs with friends. "When he got a golf club in the mail, he would walk around in the house, showing it to people," said Amy Verdi, Gregory Milanowycz's girlfriend of five years. "It would be like his birthday all over again. He would hold onto the club, swinging it and pretending to play. You cannot stop him from playing golf."
After his golfing friends learned that he was missing, a few dozen got in touch with his parents and donated $10,000. "These were friends we had never known," said his father, who has decided to donate the money to a New Jersey first aid squad.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 7, 2001.
Gregory Milanowycz, 25, tried to save others
Anyone who is not a twin cannot understand how devastating it is to lose one. Just ask Steven Milanowycz of Cranford.
"It's like losing part of yourself," said Milanowycz, whose twin brother Gregory perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Gregory Milanowycz, 25, also of Cranford, was an insurance broker for AON Corp. and died while trying to rescue his colleagues in the smoke-filled South Tower, his father Joseph said yesterday.
Steven Milanowycz, who has no other siblings, said his brother was born first by two minutes.
"He was my fraternal twin," he said. "We grew up together, doing everything together -- going to school, playing baseball and basketball."
"They were double the trouble and four times the happiness," their father said. "They were two darling boys. Every day turned out to be a better day as they were growing up and maturing."
An avid sports enthusiast, having most recently taken up golf, Mr. Milanowycz was described by friends and family as honest, trustworthy and fun-loving.
"One of the things I will always remember about him was his love for life," his brother said. "He thoroughly enjoyed golfing and spending time with family and friends. He truly loved his job and would boast about the travel and his co-workers and the accounts he was working on."
Mr. Milanowycz grew up in Cranford and graduated from Seton Hall Preparatory School in West Orange. He graduated from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia with a degree in finance in 1998, and from there went to work for AON.
On the morning of Sept. 11, Mr. Milanowycz first called his mother and then made contact with his father from a cell phone as he and about 30 co-workers lay trapped in the burning skyscraper.
"We're all in the northeast corner on the 93rd floor," Joseph Milanowycz recalled his son saying.
The father stayed on the line with his son while calling the New York Fire Department for directions, he said. At the time, the department did not recognize the severity of the disaster and instructed people to lie on the floor, apply damp cloths to doorways and refrain from talking to save oxygen, the father said.
His son started coughing a lot and asked if he could break a window because of the toxic smoke and heat, his father said. Meanwhile, Mr. Milanowycz was repeating the orders to his terror-stricken comrades, having taken charge of the situation.
"And then . . . his tone changed," his father said, through tears. "Then he just said, 'Dad, I just want to let you know I love you and tell Mom I love her and tell Steve I love him.' "
For the grief-stricken father, the dialogue was a mixed blessing.
"His last words to me were comforting, yet it's something I'll never forget," he said. "I was listening to my son die. It's one of those things that will always stay in my mind."
He later related the conversation to others who had lost loved ones on the same floor. "It comforted them to know Greg helped and that they weren't alone," he said.
In addition to his parents and brother, Mr. Milanowycz is survived by his paternal grandmother, Estelle Milanowycz of Jersey City; his maternal grandmother, Louise Pugni of Cranford, and his longtime girlfriend, Amy Verdi of Boonton.
A memorial Mass is planned for Oct. 27 at 10:30 a.m. at the Church of St. Anne, 325 Second Ave., Garwood.
Donations may be made to a scholarship fund in Mr. Milanowycz's name at St. Joseph's University, Office of Development, 5600 City Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19131.
Profile by Debra Dowling published in THE STAR-LEDGER.