A Hotshot With a Soft Spot
You could put together a credible story about the good-looking star jock from Wayne, N.J., who was nabbed by the prettiest girl in high school and who continued to do well — rising hotshot in the financial world, monthly Friday night cards-and- beer with the guys, the house in Glen Rock, N.J., strewn with empty water bottles and bottlecaps. You would certainly be accurate in describing Paul Acquaviva, 29, a vice president at eSpeed, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald, but you would not be right.
For you would also have to talk about the guy who was so bright that he knew the one question on his math SAT that he missed, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Rutgers, and from Columbia Law School. A man so tender that when he learned that his first child was a girl, he jumped up and down with untrammeled joy, who would tell Courtney — that high school girlfriend, later his bride — that she became only more beautiful to him over the years, never more so than when she was pregnant and ungainly.
Then you could meld those stories — the macho jock with the sensitive scholar — and you would see the outlines of a gifted friend and family man, father to Sarah, 2, and to Sarah's brother, who is expected to begin his own story in December.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 2, 2001.
Paul Acquaviva, 29, had smarts to spare
Smart? Paul Acquaviva was smart. Smart enough to know the one answer he didn't get right on his SAT test. Smart enough to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa while a student at Rutgers College. Smart enough that his first job, right out of Columbia University School of Law, was with the prestigious New York City law firm of Dewey Ballantine.
Smart enough, when he was 11, to pull off the old hidden-ball trick while a catcher on his Little League team.
"The guy on the other team is standing on third base," recalled Kenneth Kaplan of Wayne, a boyhood friend. "Our pitcher throws a wild pitch. Paul goes running behind the plate, yelling, 'Where's the ball, where's the ball?' The guy on third base starts edging down the line. Paul's running around, yelling 'Where's the ball?' The guy runs toward home, Paul pulls the ball out of his chest protector, says, 'Here's the ball!' and tags him out. Game's over, the crowd cheers."
Mr. Acquaviva, described by Kaplan as "not your average guy," was in his office at eSpeed in the World Trade Center's North Tower when a hijacked airliner crashed into it Sept. 11. Mr. Acquaviva, vice president of corporate development at eSpeed, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald, was 29.
He lived with his wife, Courtney, and their 2-year-old daughter, Sarah, in Glen Rock. Courtney Acquaviva, pregnant with their second child, is due in December.
"It's terrible," said Alfred Acquaviva, his father. "Two weeks later, I thought it would be better, but it's not. He was such a good son. He always called me every day, every other day, to ask, 'Dad, how are you doing?' And now he's not here because some guy drove a plane through the building."
Minutes after the plane hit the North Tower, Mr. Acquaviva called his wife, according to Bernie Kaplan of Wayne, a family friend. "She said, 'I'm so glad you got out,'" Kaplan said. "He said, 'I didn't. I'm not going to get out of here.'"
Mr. Acquaviva graduated from Wayne Valley High School, where he was a wide receiver on the 1989 team that won the state football championship and a starter on the varsity basketball team. He received his bachelor's degree from Rutgers College in 1994 and his juris doctor degree from Columbia University's School of Law in 1997. Admitted to the New York State Bar and New Jersey Bar in 1997, Mr. Acquaviva started his law career in September 1997 as a corporate lawyer for Dewey Ballantine.
"You don't get a job out of law school with Dewey Ballantine as a regular schmo," said Kenneth Kaplan, a lawyer himself. "You have to be the top of the top."
In March 2000, Mr. Acquaviva accepted a position at eSpeed.
Mr. Acquaviva also is survived by his mother, Josephine; his sister, Cara Hadfield of Ridgewood; and his grandmother, Mamie Parisi of Wayne.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of the Valley R.C. Church, 614 Valley Road, Wayne.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Paul Acquaviva Memorial Scholarship Fund to benefit a scholar-athlete annually at Wayne Valley High School. Contributions may be sent to the law offices of Kenneth Kaplan, c/o Paul Acquaviva Memorial Scholarship Fund, 1071 Preakness Ave., Wayne, N.J. 07470.
Profile by Peter Genovese published in THE STAR-LEDGER.