Louis S. Alves, 33; loved music, socializing with colleagues
Louis S. Alves had three main hobbies, his mother, Maria Alves, says: "Music, music, music."
Music provided a way for Lou to unleash his passion for life. He played the piano, and had played the accordion when he was younger. At every party, he brought his own compact disks -- Metallica, Jimi Hendrix, Megadeth, The Doors -- and insisted on playing them.
Lou, 33, loved to sing karaoke. His favorite performance number was Billy Joel's "You May Be Right."
He spent two years searching for the perfect new stereo for his home, debating various systems and dragging friends along to Circuit City.
Another of Lou's passions was his family. The house he bought in Lincoln seven years ago is less than half a mile from the house where he grew up, and where his parents still live. One winter while Lou was in high school, he got a job playing Santa Claus at a local mall to earn extra money to buy his family presents, but didn't tell them until years later.
Lou had a mischievous side. In one photograph, he offers a goofy smile to the camera; on a plate in front of him is a lobster, its claw clasped on the neck of a Sam Adams beer bottle.
"He always made a joke out of everything," said his sister, Carla. "It's so difficult, now, to just be somber."
As a senior designer for Poly-Flex Circuits in Cranston, Lou helped develop medical products including a device used to detect carpal-tunnel syndrome and a sensor that measures brain activity during surgery, to ensure that patients who are too sedated to move or speak are not still able to feel pain from the procedures they are undergoing.
Lou was a perfectionist in his work, said Robert Conley, a quality engineer for Poly-Flex and close friend. When Conley inspected Lou's designs, Lou wouldn't let him mark any negative comments on the checklist. Instead, Lou would immediately go back and fix the problem, saying, "Let me reprint it."
Though he took his work seriously, Lou let his personality shine through at the office as well. Many employees listen to music while they work, but Lou's "was a bit louder than everyone else's," Conley said.
Lou encouraged employees to socialize in their free time, organizing group outings that included trips to see the Providence Bruins and the Pawtucket Red Sox. He was constantly asking people to go out for "just one beer," his supervisor, Michael Jordan, remembers. "He would hound you until you said yes."
After the fire, Jordan compiled memories that employees e-mailed to him. One of Lou's coworkers, Karline Smith, wrote:
"Lou treated life as one big party, and I know for sure that wherever he is, the music will never stop."
-- Elizabeth Gudrais, Providence Journal staff
Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003