Oscar Nesbitt

Oscar Nesbitt
World Trade Center

Friend to Everyone

When Oscar F. Nesbitt went to work, he was always impeccably dressed in a suit and tie, with a newspaper in his hands and a greeting on his lips.

He used the newspaper to satisfy his interest in crossword puzzles and stock tables. The greeting was a necessity because scores of people at 2 World Trade Center, where Mr. Nesbitt worked as a tax auditor for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, considered him a friend.

"He'd approach somebody off the street and just strike up a conversation," said Bill Frederick, a longtime friend and co-worker. "Even people calling with a wrong number, within an hour he would know their whole life story."

From his native Trinidad to Harlem, where he had bought and refurbished two brownstones, Mr. Nesbitt, 58, was known for his wise counsel. "He was an inspiration," said a friend, Sherly Abraham. "Every time I had a problem he'd say, `You know you can't change what's given to you, but you can change the way you deal with it.' "

After Sept. 11, when Mr. Nesbitt's family went to his house, they discovered a Bible on his bed that was turned to the 16th Psalm.

"It begins with `Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust,' " said one of his brothers, Earl Nesbitt. "Whenever you talked to him about death, he would say, `If that's God's will, so be it.' "

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on Sunday, March 31, 2002.

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