The Backup Man
Paul Albert Skrzypek was constantly in motion. He ran with the bulls in Pamplona, he completed the Chicago Triathlon and the New York Marathon, and he Rollerbladed, biked and skied his way through the changing seasons. The only things he would sit still for, friends joked, were New York sporting events.
After Sept. 11, some wondered if he had, on some level, known that his time was limited. Over the summer he had rented not one but two beach houses. He had backup plans to back up his backup plans. "It was almost like he had an innate crystal ball," his friend James Schuette wrote in a letter to Mr. Skrzypek's parents, Edith and Albert. "He lived two lifetimes in 37 years."
Back in his hometown of Montville, N.J., Mr. Skrzypek's parents and younger sister have heard countless friends recall his generosity, fearlessness and athleticism. It is nothing they didn't know. Until recently, his parents were still watching him play in a local lacrosse league. "I remember we were walking to a game," his mother said. "Bert said, 'Are we going to be going to his games until we're 80?' "
In July, when Mr. Skrzypek became a broker with eSpeed, he told his father that he had finally gotten his career on track. The only area in which he lagged behind his friends was marriage. "Paul sought the relationship he saw in his parents," Mr. Schuette wrote, "and those are very hard to come by."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 12, 2001.
Paul Skrzypek, 37, always on the go
Paul Albert Skrzypek was a New York City bachelor who took advantage of everything life had to offer. Whether it was approaching an attractive woman at the gym, completing a marathon or running with the bulls in Spain, he was up for the challenge.
"He just couldn't sit still, his whole life he couldn't stay still," said his mother, Edith Skrzypek of Montville. "Nobody could keep up with him."
He lived alone in the city, but the night before the attack on the World Trade Center, where Mr. Skrzypek worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, he called his mother.
"My son, he was always calling me, but not because he had to check in with me like a duty call," Edith Skrzypek said. This time it was to talk about baseball -- mother and son were the biggest Yankee fans -- and to persuade her to subscribe to HBO.
On Tuesday morning, after the attack, his family tried to reach him at his office but never got through. A colleague later told the family he was starting with a new group that day and wasn't at his desk. He'd only started working at One World Trade Center six weeks before the attack.
A native of Montclair, Mr. Skrzypek's family moved to Montville while he was still young. He graduated in 1982 from Montville High School, where he developed a passion for lacrosse. He continued playing the sport at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
He moved to New York City about a decade ago. "He loved that city," his mother said. "His city, he said."
He was always a hard worker, said his sister, Laura Kingsbury of Budd Lake. She recalled that when he struggled in school, he just made up his mind to do better.
"If he had a hard time, he would just try even harder. It's not that he was a perfectionist. He just tried to be the best that he could be."
In the days following the attack, Kingsbury said many of her brother's friends have shared stories about him. All of them have reinforced to her family who he was.
"He was really fearless," she said. "He didn't have any qualms about feeling awkward around anybody."
She said one friend told her how her brother tried to talk to a woman at the gym. When asked about it later, Mr. Skrzypek, 37, said, "I just can't imagine seeing what might be a great opportunity and letting it go by."
"It was a metaphor for how Paul approached his life," Kingsbury said. "He didn't let any opportunity go by. He seized every opportunity."
In addition to his mother and sister, Mr. Skrzypek is survived by his father, Albert; his grandfather, August Puleo; nephews and other relatives.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Our Lady of the Holy Angels, 473 Main St., Little Falls.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, 5940 Hamilton Blvd., Suite. F, Allentown, Pa. 18106.
Profile by Paula Saha published in THE STAR-LEDGER.