Manuel L. Lopez

Manuel L.  Lopez
World Trade Center

Craving Greens and Gadgets

When Manuel Lopez was not putting in long days as a corporate tax manager for Marsh & McLennan in 1 World Trade Center, he liked to tend the big garden he and his wife had in Jersey City. The backyard plot bore beans, tomatoes, mustard greens ‹ the last an important ingredient in sinigang, a tangy soup of Mr. Lopez's native Philippines.

But while Mr. Lopez, 54, liked vegetables, he was crazy about gadgets and electronics. DVD players, laser discs, cameras ‹ "Everything that came out, he had to be the first to get it," said his daughter, Minnie Morison. "We have five or six televisions and there's only three bedrooms in this house."

Mr. Lopez often trawled the Internet in search of hot deals. "There was this DeWalt drill that kept being auctioned on uBid," his daughter said. "He wanted it so bad, but he was stubborn and he was always outbid. I was like, `Why don't you just go to Sears and buy it, and I'll pay the difference?'

"A couple days after the World Trade Center, a drill showed up in the mail. It was really weird for us.

"No one's opened it."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 4, 2001.

Manuel Lopez, 54, home was his palace

After moving to Jersey City from the Philippines in his mid-20s with his pregnant wife, Manuel Lopez found his passion in creating a comfortable place for his family.

In recent months, he organized the remodeling of the family's duplex, paying close attention to light fixtures and other details. He also filled with house with plenty of electronic gadgets, from DVD players, stereos and cameras to a TV set in each bedroom, his family said.

It was on a morning during which Mr. Lopez, 54, known as Manny, exercised that passion for nesting that his life was cut short. Moments after arriving at work on the 98th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, he called his wife, Rosalia, to go over some details of their remodeling project.

Ten minutes after he hung up, the first jet struck the World Trade Center. His wife, hearing the news on the radio, tried to call back, but she was not able to get through to him.

"He wanted to provide a better life for his future family," said his daughter, Minnie Rose Morison, also of Jersey City.

Mr. Lopez knew hard work would provide a better future for his family, they said. He was vice president of the federal tax department at Marsh & McLennan, his employer for 15 years, and often arrived at work early.

On the fateful morning, Mr. Lopez was driven to the PATH station in Jersey City by his son, Mannie Jay Lopez, who had returned home from an overnight work shift before heading out to a class at New Jersey City University.

"He always had a joke to tell," his son said. Mr. Lopez was fond of electronic gadgets, and was an avid reader of Stereo Review and other magazines to keep up with trends in electronics.

In addition to a new TV in each of three bedrooms, Mr. Lopez kept a classic TV in the kitchen, a Sony from the 1980s, for "sentimental" reasons, his son said.

"He joked a lot and he loved to go shopping," his wife added.

It was the example of hard work, done with a sense of humor, that his son remembered. "He wanted to show me a better life," his son said.

Mr. Lopez's remains were not positively identified until more than two months after the tragedy, on Nov. 16. Officials made the identification using DNA tests, his daughter said.

In addition to his wife, daughter and son, Mr. Lopez also is survived by two sisters, Jovita "Betty" Lozano of New York and Avelina Cabal; and two brothers, Geronimo Montero and Benjamin Montero, all of the Philippines; and other relatives.

A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. today in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny.

Profile by George Berkin published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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