Kenneth Albert Zelman

Kenneth Albert Zelman
World Trade Center

Ken Zelman, 37, a goofy sense of humor

The night before the attack on the World Trade Center, Ken Zelman came home from work just in time to tuck his 4-year-old daughter Olivia into bed, but not before they played her favorite game, "flying angels."

The consultant, known for his big smile, would lie down on the floor, prop Olivia up with his legs and let her swing around freely until her laughter echoed throughout the house.

"He got excited about doing things with his kids so much that he'd be disappointed if they were in bed by the time he got home at night," said his wife, Karin.

"He was just this normal everyday guy with a goofy sense of humor, and his fun was spending time with his family and making the kids laugh."

Mr. Zelman, a consultant for the Oracle Corp., was on a year-long assignment at Marsh & McLennan on the 99th floor of the North Tower. On the morning of Sept. 11, he walked out of his Succasunna home and waved good-bye to his wife and 14-month-old son Ethan, who was blowing his father kisses. That was the last time his wife would ever see him.

"Ethan was blowing him kisses and he had just learned how to do that so we were laughing," his wife said. "Now I have that image burned in my head."

Born and raised in Livingston, Mr. Zelman, 37, attended Livingston High School and graduated from Rider University in 1986. He met his wife four years later when they both worked at CasChem Inc., a chemical manufacturing company in Bayonne.

They had their first date at Pane Vino, an Italian restaurant in Livingston, and talked all night. The next day, on Karin's birthday, he showed up in her office with a dozen roses. The couple married on Sept. 26, 1992, and moved to the Succasunna section of Roxbury a year later.

Mr. Zelman's weekends were always set aside for family outings -- like day trips to crafts festivals and the zoo -- and he would usually take Olivia and Ethan to Cliff's, an ice cream parlor in Ledgewood. In August, the family vacationed in Long Beach Island, where Mr. Zelman spent hours making sand castles with his daughter.

The couple spent Labor Day with Mr. Zelman's sister, Laurie Slack, who lived down the block.

"I'm five years older than him and we were always together growing up," said Slack.

"My mother used to say: 'Someday you're not going to want him tagging around you all the time,' but that never really happened. Even now, we could pick up the phone at 10 and talk until 2 in the morning about things. I can't believe I'm not going to be able to do that anymore," she said.

Besides his wife, children and sister, Mr. Zelman is survived by his parents, Ruth and Jack Zelman of Livingston; a brother, Barry of Dover; and two other sisters, Mona Zuchowski of Whippany and Carrie Burlock of Merrick, N.Y.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Temple B'nai Abraham, 300 E. Northfield Road, Livingston.

Donations may be made to the Kenneth Zelman Trust Account, C/O Fleet Bank, 15 Commerce Boulevard, Succasunna, N.J. 07876.

Profile by Giovanna Fabiano published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

Inseparable From Daughter

Kenneth Albert Zelman and his daughter, Olivia, had their routines. When Mr. Zelman walked through the door of his house in Succasunna, N.J., Olivia, who will be 5 in November, would throw her arms around him and say, "Daddy's home." When Mr. Zelman put Olivia to bed, they would make up stories and tell them to each other.

When Mr. Zelman met his brother for coffee at a local shop, Olivia went along and sat with them and had a chocolate milk. On Sundays, when Mr. Zelman, his wife, Karin, Olivia and her younger brother, Ethan, who is now 2, went out to eat, they always had pancakes.

In the summer, when the family went to a nearby ice cream stand, Mr. Zelman and Olivia always split an ice cream cone. And when Mr. Zelman did work around the house, Olivia walked around with him with her own set of tools.

"She was Daddy's girl," Mrs. Zelman said.

Mr. Zelman was a software consultant for Oracle who had been working for a year on a project at Marsh & McLennan on the 99th floor of the north tower. He usually arrived early and stayed late, but Mrs. Zelman said, "Ken's big thing was always his family."

She said Ethan did not have many memories of Mr. Zelman, but they had been starting to bond. On Sept. 11, as Mr. Zelman left for the train, Ethan sat blowing kisses at his father.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 10, 2002.

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