A Friend to the End
Abe Zelmanowitz's family used to nag him about not being married. But although he never found a mate, he did not miss out on the experience of raising children. Living with his older brother Jack in Brooklyn, Uncle Avremel, as Mr. Zelmanowitz, 55, was known within the family, was deeply involved in the upbringing of his nieces and nephews.
"My children were his children," his brother said. "My grandchildren were his grandchildren." When their parents were alive, Mr. Zelmanowitz, an Orthodox Jew, thought nothing of walking three miles each way to visit them on the Sabbath.
He loved music — everything from Andrea Bocelli to the Beatles — and he was so handy that he could build a sukkah, a temporary hut for the festival of Sukkot, without using nails.
In death, Mr. Zelmanowitz has been celebrated by President Bush and people around the world for remaining with his quadriplegic friend and colleague, Edward Beyea, after the attack on the World Trade Center, where they worked as computer programmers at Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
But to his family, this sacrifice was typical of Mr. Zelmanowitz's nature. "Had it been a casual acquaintance," his brother said, "he would have done the same thing. He could never turn his back on another human being."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 5, 2001.