Ludwig J. Picarro

Ludwig  J. Picarro
World Trade Center

He Loved to Commute

Ludwig J. Picarro had always worked in the suburbs, so he was absolutely thrilled four years ago when he got a job as an insurance executive across the street from the World Trade Center.

"He felt he was in the center of business," said Susan Picarro, his wife. "He just felt so much energy, and he thrived on that."

Mr. Picarro, 44, relished the daily routines that other suburban commuters simply tolerate. A resident of Basking Ridge, N.J., where he lived with his wife and sons, Andrew, 15, and Matthew, 9, he actually liked the ride on the PATH train or the ferry. He thrilled at the sight of the twin towers.

He grew up in New Castle, Pa., where he married his junior high school sweetheart, Susan, and found work in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

In New York, he was the senior vice president for diversified products at Zurich American Insurance Group, in 1 Liberty Plaza. On Sept. 11, he was attending a business meeting at Aon Insurance.

As much as he loved the fast pace of the city, his wife said, he had his priorities straight. Without hesitation, he would rearrange his business schedule to attend his sons' sporting events.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 6, 2001.

Ludwig Picarro, cheered on sons' teams

It took a few tries for Ludwig J. Picarro's employer to convince him to move to the New York City area.

But once it did, he never looked back.

Mr. Picarro, 44, who moved his family to Basking Ridge from Ohio four years ago, loved everything about his life here: The hustle-bustle of working in New York's financial district, the peace, quiet and small-town feel of Basking Ridge and the opportunity to spend time with his family.

"Although he really enjoyed working downtown, he really liked coming back home," said Robert Michalojko of Marshall Township, Pa., a friend since seventh grade.

"He was a great guy."

Mr. Picarro, who was a senior vice president for the insurance company Zurich, U.S., worked at 1 Liberty Plaza, across the street from the Twin Towers. But he was on the 104th floor of the South Tower for a meeting on the morning of the terrorist attacks.

"He called at 9 a.m. to say he was all right, and he was in the tower that wasn't hit. Then, as he was talking with my mother, his tower was hit. The phone went dead," said his son, Andrew, 15. "The last thing my mom said to him was, 'Be safe.'"

One of Andrew's last memories of his father is standing with him on the sidelines at Ridge High School the week before the attack, watching a football scrimmage.

"He and I stood together. He really liked watching my teams play," said Andrew, a varsity player who was out with a broken kneecap. "My little brother is a baseball player. My dad used to go to all his Little League games. He was always there."

Born in New Castle, Pa., and nicknamed "Lud," Mr. Picarro was devoted to his wife, Susan L. Wilson Picarro, his sweetheart since ninth grade, and sons Andrew and Matthew, 8.

He won a football scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, but gave it up after a year to concentrate on academics, earning a degree in political science in 1979.

Mr. Picarro worked for Zurich U.S. for 17 years and several times was offered promotions and relocation to New York, Michalojko said.

Mr. Picarro enjoyed taking his sons to professional hockey, football and baseball games. He was a fan of teams from his native Pittsburgh area -- and took his older son to last year's World Series.

But his favorite teams to cheer for were his sons'.

"He was a big family man," Michalojko said.

Mr. Picarro also is survived by his mother, Antoinette Picarro of New Castle, Pa.

Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider contributions in his memory to the Picarro Children's Fund, c/o PNC Bank, 38 Lyons Mall Shopping Center, Basking Ridge, N.J. 07920.

Profile by Jeanette Rundquist published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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