Family, First and Foremost
For much of the year, it was still dark when Frank J. Spinelli, 44, boarded the morning train at Short Hills, N.J., for the commute to Manhattan. A foreign exchange broker, he was usually at work by 6 a.m., tracking overseas markets, and his workday was often not over at 5 p.m. There were clients to wine and dine. He had been doing it for 20 years on Wall Street, though only the last seven months for Cantor Fitzgerald, on the 105th floor of 1 World Trade Center.
On weekends, he and his wife, Michelle, were on the sidelines cheering at the soccer, lacrosse, track and football games of their three children, Nicole, 17, Christopher, 14, and Danielle, 8.
"He was dedicated to his family, to the children," Mrs. Spinelli said. "That was his main focus. Many of the letters we received from his colleagues said the same thing — that his family was the most important thing in his life."
On Sept. 11, Mr. Spinelli called home and left a message. "He knew a plane had struck the building and said he was going to try to get out. The end of the message was, 'I love you and I'll see you later.' " There was no panic in his voice; he had been a volunteer emergency medical technician for five years.
His body was found two weeks later.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 15, 2001.
Frank Spinelli, 44, brought zeal to life
The nature of Frank Spinelli Jr.'s job in the foreign exchange brokerage field had always demanded he start his day before dawn and work into the night entertaining clients. His time off belonged to his wife, Michelle, and their three children, Nicole, Christopher and Danielle.
Despite all the demands on his time, Spinelli only reluctantly resigned from the Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad two years ago, said Nancy Dahmer, a squad member and a close friend.
"He loved the squad, but he took a few personal leaves," allowing him to take a break from active duty but maintain his membership a little longer until he knew he should leave. "He and I had a few heart-to-hearts about it," Dahmer said. "He was a dad, and he had to be there for the soccer games."
Mr. Spinelli of Short Hills, an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald, died on Sept. 11th in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He was 44.
"If we know Frank, he was probably helping people get out of the building," Dahmer said.
His oldest daughter, 17-year-old Nicole, wrote in memory of her father: "Frank J. Spinelli Jr. was a man loved by everyone . . . He was an extremely special man in the lives of his three children, not only being a father but a best friend. He taught the true fundamental values of life, which are how to love and how to be loved."
He was "an uplifting man, full of life, always cracking a joke with a warm smile on his face," his daughter wrote. "He truly cared for those around him, giving back to his community."
Born and raised in Staten Island, Mr. Spinelli graduated from Monsignor Farrell High School, and the State University of New York College at Farmingdale in 1976. He moved to Short Hills 19 years ago.
A foreign exchange broker for Cantor Fitzgerald for the last eight months, he held numerous competitive broker and management positions since 1977.
He brought the same zeal to his volunteer job at the squad, where he served as treasurer, house and building lieutenant, and maintenance lieutenant, Dahmer said.
"He entertained his clients almost every night and the one night he had free, he devoted to the squad," she said.
More than anything he achieved in his career, Mr. Spinelli valued most his family and friends. "His sense was always that people were the most important thing to him. He was a person about doing the right thing and being kind to people," said Shana Kaplow, his sister-in-law.
Other survivors include his parents, Frank J. Spinelli Sr. and Tina Falk Spinelli; his paternal grandmother, Margaret Spinelli; his maternal grandparents, Michael and Mary LaRay; his sister, Susan Aversa, and his brother, Steven.
Profile by Susan K. Livio published in THE STAR-LEDGER.