J. Donald Bane believes there are debts we owe our forebears. His first wife, a professional pianist, died in childbirth, but Michael Andrew Bane, the son born of that tragedy, carried on traits of the mother he never knew. Like her, he loved to play music, and was focused and driven in everything he did.
Sometimes what he did went against the grain, like dropping out of high school and working as a dishwasher and chef before enrolling in college. The younger Mr. Bane later married, worked in insurance, and last year was promoted to assistant vice president for Marsh & McLennan's casualty claims unit. Along the way, his father and stepmother, Arline Peabody, celebrated each step.
"It was just wonderful to see him blossom like that," his father said. "He had become my adult friend as well as my child that I'm very proud of."
In August, at home in Yardley, Pa., he and his wife, Tara, played host to a family reunion. On Sept. 9, the couple sat on the porch with their dogs and had a strangely prescient conversation. "He said, `Would you stay in the house if I died?' and I said, `I don't think I could,' " Mrs. Bane said. "But it feels good to be in the house. Because it's not eerie. It's comforting."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on January 29, 2002.