A Memorial House-Raising
Paul Beyer wanted a house. A house with a chimney. In Tottenville, Staten Island, the place where he and his wife were born and raised. So for two years, he laid the foundations for his dream: he got the necessary permits to tear down his mother-in-law's 100-year-old house, he got the blueprints from an architect, and he meticulously planned and designed every room of the two-family house that would one day be a home for him and his wife and their two boys and even his mother-in-law.
Last summer, he began to build. He had completed about 60 percent of the house when he died at the trade center. He was 37, a firefighter, a Scout leader, the father of two teenagers, Michael Paul, 15, and Shawn Patrick, 13, and, for 15 years, the husband of Arlene Beyer.
For about a week, Mrs. Beyer contemplated not finishing the house. "It was heartbreaking," Mrs. Beyer, 40, said. "I couldn't even go there."
Then she decided to go ahead. "We knew we had to finish the dream," she said. Scores of firefighters, all friends and colleagues of her husband's from Engine Company 6, are helping her. In the chimney, one of the firemen will carve a Maltese Cross, the symbol for firefighters.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 14, 2001.