Michael D. Diehl

World Trade Center

Barbecue in the Snow

Michael D. Diehl was a grill master. He grilled chicken, hamburgers, spareribs and turkeys year-round. Neither rain nor sleet nor snow could stop him.

"He would park himself in a lawn chair in front of the barbecue with a glass of wine, preparing mouth-watering foods for his family and friends," said his wife, Loisanne. "Even in the winter he would don a parka, shovel a path to the grill and sit there like he was on top of the world."

Mr. Diehl, 48, used grilling to escape the hurly-burly of Wall Street. Some days he would sit on the sprawling deck of his house in Brick, N.J., taking in the air, not saying a word to anyone, or enjoying light conversation with Mrs. Diehl. He worked at Fiduciary Trust for 19 years. He was a vice president for custody in his last position.

The couple had two children, Jason, 20, and Jeannette, 15. He pushed them to do their best and they tried. Jeannette plays 10 instruments, including the piano, flute and piccolo, while Jason plays 5, including guitar, Mrs. Diehl said.

"He would beam from ear to ear as he listened to Jeannette perform at her piano recitals," Mrs. Diehl said, "or watch Jason make a great save in the goalie net."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 20, 2001.

Michael Diehl, 48, the king of grilling

The two-story contemporary at the end of a dead-end street in Brick was Michael and Lois Diehl's dream house. But it was the backyard deck where Mr. Diehl was king.

Every Sunday, he could be found parked in a lawn chair with a glass of red wine, surveying the smoking grill. If it snowed, he would dig a path.

"One year he even made our Thanksgiving turkey on the grill," Lois Diehl said. "He couldn't cook in the kitchen, but he was a master chef on the grill."

Mr. Diehl, 48, a vice president with Fiduciary Trust International, was in his office on the 90th floor of Tower Two when the second hijacked jetliner slammed into it.

A devoted father to his two children, Jason, 20, and Jeannette, 15, he also visited his mother, Kathleen, frequently in nearby Toms River after his father died in 1983.

"Michael would go over and cut hedges and hang Christmas lights, and he never complained," said his brother, Robert, of Newark, Del. "He called Mom from work everyday just to see how she was doing."

Quiet and conservative, he initially seemed an odd fit for the brash and outgoing Lois Diehl.

"Opposites attract," his wife said, "but we have always been best friends."

The couple met at U.S. Trust Co. in Manhattan, where they had both gone to work as teenagers. One night, she decided to go watch the company bowling team play, and since they both lived in Jersey City, Mr. Diehl asked if she needed a ride home.

"He's been taking me home ever since," Lois Diehl said.

Although Mr. Diehl worked full time, he attended night school at St. Peter's College, Jersey City, for eight years until he earned a business degree.

The couple worked hard but enjoying the little things. They liked to travel and always took an annual vacation to the Caribbean.

They had a tradition of taping the soap opera "The Young and the Restless." For 20 years, after the children were in bed, they would sit down at 10:30 p.m. and watch it, sharing a drink or pretzels to wind down.

They were animal lovers, with a menagerie that included Captain Morgan the parrot, fish and beloved cats, Maxwell and Petey. Maxwell, who died earlier this year, had his framed picture in the den, and Petey met Mr. Diehl at the door every evening after work.

Also surviving are two brothers, Richard of Tampa, and Kenneth of Barnegat.

Profile by Steve Chambers published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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