An Enduring Bond
Todd Pitman and Gary Gerst had a friendship that began when they were 4-year-olds growing up in Skaneateles, N.Y., and stayed strong — even when Mr. Pitman skipped a grade, went away to boarding school and college, and finally moved to Manhattan, where he worked as an options trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. "When he got home in the summer, we always hung out," said Mr. Gerst, a middle-school English teacher and soccer coach in their hometown.
About the same height and build, they eventually began to think of themselves as family. Mr. Pitman, 30, was a favorite of all the Gersts, and paid special attention to his friend's sister, who is autistic and mentally retarded. Mr. Pitman had a special whistling sound he used to make her laugh.
He lived in the East Village but was building a lake house in Skaneateles, said his sister, Erica. Last year, Mr. Gerst invited Mr. Pitman to be best man at his wedding. The ceremony took place earlier this summer; Mr. Pitman's father stood in his son's place.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 9, 2002.