Size Belied by Tenderness
People called Michael Tanner, "Tiny," because he was so big, his wife said. He was 6-foot-2 and weighed 240. And he had a large capacity for kindliness.
"With my second pregnancy, at the end I had high blood pressure," said his wife, Michele, who dated him for 10 years before marrying him 15 years ago. "We were building our house at the time, and I was totally stressed out." Her doctor wanted her to visit daily, but Mr. Tanner offered to drop off whatever the doctor needed so she could stay home.
Long after their second daughter was born four years ago, Mr. Tanner, 44, a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, remained thoughtful. "I couldn't get out of bed unless I had coffee," she said. "He would get up at 5:30, and he left at 6, but at 5 till, he would have that coffee underneath my nose, every day of my married life."
He coached basketball and softball for Sasha, 14, and was teaching Gianna, 4, football drills in the house. "The football would go flying towards this humongous chandelier, and I'd put my hands to my eyes and say, `Just be careful!' "
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on July 14, 2002.
Michael Tanner, 44, a heart of gold
At Cantor Fitzgerald, Michael A. Tanner was known as "Tiny." The joke, of course, was that Tanner stood well over 6 feet tall and weighed upwards of 250 pounds.
His friends described him as a lovable teddy bear.
Mr. Tanner, who was 44, died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
His friends at Cantor said he was a devoted family man. Each morning at 6:15 he stopped for coffee at his mother's house, just a few blocks away from Mr. Tanner's home in Secaucus.
"He was a great son. He loved his family," recalled his mother, Mary Tanner.
Mr. Tanner met his wife, Michele, when she was 18 and he was 20. The two dated and then went their separate ways.
Mr. Tanner headed to Cornell University, where he was starting quarterback on the football team. His mother and siblings would trek up to cheer him on the field. Michele, meanwhile, went to nursing school.
Yet their connection remained through the years, and the two always knew they would eventually wind up back together. They married 10 years after they first met.
"Michael had a sense of humor I couldn't find anywhere else," said his wife.
They had two daughters, Sasha, who is 13, and Gianna, who is 3. At night after work, Mr. Tanner and his younger daughter did not play dress-up or have tea parties. Instead, the two raced across the living room doing football drills.
"Then he and my older daughter would be tossing footballs in the living room, and I would be screaming that something was going to be knocked over," Michele Tanner recalled.
Friends and family say Mr. Tanner was extremely generous.
"He gave away a lot that no one knew about. He had a heart of gold. He would think nothing of handing a friend $5,000 and telling them not to worry about it," said Frank D'Amelio, Mr. Tanner's brother-in-law and high school friend.
Mr. Tanner also coached his older daughter's softball and basketball teams. Despite his success, he retained an affinity for the underdog -- and loved the Mets and the Jets.
He maintained close relationships with his friends at Cantor, where he worked for 17 years as a trader, and found a respite from his busy work life at the Jersey Shore, where the family had a home in Lavallette.
Mr. Tanner also is survived by his brother, Kenneth Tanner, and three sisters, Rene Abbatte, Nicole Tanner and Maria Marasciulo. A service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Immaculate Conception Church in Secaucus.
Profile by Carol Ann Campbell published in THE STAR-LEDGER.