A Ring From a Sweetheart
Ronald and Kristen Breitweiser were married five years ago in bathing suits and bare feet "on a little sand spit in the middle of nowhere," Mrs. Breitweiser recalled. After years of marriage, the two continued to act like newlyweds. Each weekday, Mr. Breitweiser, 39, would return from his job as a senior vice president at Fiduciary Trust International at 2 World Trade Center, sit on the living room couch in Middletown Township, N.J., and snuggle with his wife for a few minutes. They called each other "Sweets."
"I don't think we ever used our real names," recalled Mrs. Breitweiser, who was a lawyer before she gave up her job to raise their daughter, Caroline, who is now 2 and nicknamed Bug, after the way she used to crawl.
When Caroline woke up at night, Mr. Breitweiser would rub her back until she fell asleep. Sometimes he chased the family's golden retriever, Sam, to make her giggle. On Sept. 8, the family went to a nearby beach at Sandy Hook. Mr. Breitweiser pointed to two gray rectangles in the distance. "Look, that's where Daddy works," he said.
Some of Mr. Breitweiser's remains, including his wedding ring, were recovered from ground zero in October. The authorities gave Mrs. Breitweiser her husband's ring, which she wears on her right hand. Her own wedding ring stays where it was, on her left.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on March 17, 2002.
Ronald Breitweiser, 39, put family first
Ronald M. Breitweiser was a Norman Rockwell fan, and a look at his life suggests he was on his way to becoming one of those portraits of small-town bliss. He had a house in Middletown, a wife named Kristen, a baby girl named Caroline Whitney and a golden retriever named Sam.
Every morning, before he left for work, he would kiss his wife good-bye before smooching Sam on the nose. "Okay, Sammy," Mr. Breitweiser, 39, would say. "You're in charge of our girls. You take care of them when I'm gone. You're the man of the house."
He did exactly that on the morning of Sept. 11, before he left for his job at the World Trade Center as a senior vice president with Fiduciary Trust Company International. At 8:50 a.m., after the first plane hit, he called his wife to say he was okay.
At 9:40, the phone rang again. It was an open cellular phone line. Kristen Breitweiser didn't know if it was her husband, but she spoke like he was listening. "I told him that I loved him, that he was the love of my life, that we were home waiting for him . . . I hope if it was him, he could hear me."
He was born in Rutherford, where he went to school, and graduated with a business degree from the University of Delaware. Five years ago, he met Kristen through friends at a beach in Sea Girt.
"Our hobbies were each other and our family," she said. "He knew the most important thing about life was being with Caroline and I and our dog. He appreciated life. He knew what he had."
He had just taken two weeks off, the weeks before the attack. He spent the time with his wife and baby at home, hiking, going to the zoo, the botanical gardens, the aquarium. "We always just liked to be together," his wife said.
He was also a brilliant investor, well-read and intelligent, said a friend, Tom Frame of Greenwich, Conn. "He did very thorough research. He didn't just rely on Wall Street reports and things, he read five years of annual reports."
"I think what really impressed me more recently, since he got married, was just how delighted he was with his wife and child," Frame said. "I think he was absolutely in heaven playing with his new child."
Kristen Breitweiser agreed. "He was the best husband ever, the love of my life, the best dad ever."
Mr. Breitweiser also is survived by his parents, Frederick and Geraldine; his brothers, Rick and Christian; and a sister, Mary White.
Kristen Breitweiser is planning a memorial service in the spring. She requests that anyone who knew her husband to write a letter to Caroline, telling her about her dad. Letters can be mailed to P.O. Box 235, Rumson, N.J. 07760.
Profile by Paula Saha published in THE STAR-LEDGER.