Matthew David Yarnell

Matthew David Yarnell
World Trade Center

A Merry Prankster

More than once, Matthew Yarnell's mother hung up on him. He would call, disguising his voice, and try to sell her a random product — pool supplies, anything. "Sorry, I'm not interested," Michele Yarnell would say and hang up before she realized who was calling.

"He liked to have fun," Ms. Yarnell said wistfully. Mr. Yarnell, 26, an assistant vice president for technology at Cantor Fitzgerald, took his job seriously enough that he was promoted three times in the year and a half he was there.

But he crammed plenty of fun into his life.

Last spring, on a blind date with Angela Tsuei, the two found themselves without a plan after dinner.

"Matthew said, 'Well, the Duane Reade in the World Trade Center is open,' " Ms. Tsuei recalled.

In the store, they split up and bought each other gifts. Mr. Yarnell got his date animal stickers for her nails. She bought him a rubber ducky.

In the months to come, they would spend hours in Mr. Yarnell's apartment in Jersey City, giggling and goofing.

"When we got down to the end of the paper towel roll, we would end up smacking each other with it all night," Ms. Tsuei said. "We would be just howling with laughter."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 18, 2001.

Matthew Yarnell, 26, a memorable friend

When Matthew Yarnell's family held a memorial service for him last weekend, a book was passed out called "Memories of Matt." Inside were dozens of photos, e-mails and stories about his family, his girlfriend, his college days at Carnegie Mellon University, his beloved MG and his friends. His numerous friends. They recalled his offbeat sense of humor, like the time he carried a bogus million-dollar bill and kept asking strangers, over and over, if they could "break a million." They marveled at his generosity, like the time he sold stock to give a childhood friend tickets to London as a wedding gift. They remembered road trips (Matt usually drove), eating in New Jersey diners and his ear-to-ear grin. "My favorite times spent with Matt were the days we just sat and talked," friend Deborah Cohen wrote in an e-mail yesterday. "Matt was the kind of person you could talk to about everything . . . career, finances, love, future. He was always there for his friends -- willing to listen and give advice and a warm hug." Matt grew up in Kinnelon and graduated from Kinnelon High School before attending Carnegie Mellon. At his second job out of college, 26-year-old Matt of Jersey City seemed to find his calling. He had been promoted three times in a year and a half at Fiduciary Trust Co., a financial services firm, and was vice president of technology. "He was really on his way up," his mother, Michele Yarnell, said. His personal life was coming together, too. After just four months of dating, he and girlfriend Angela Tsuei were talking about marriage. "Matt and I used to have fun doing anything. Cooking, shopping or just laughing at ourselves," Tsuei said. "He is the single kindest, smartest, most adorable person I have ever known. I will forever be in love with him." Matt worked on the 97th floor in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He was at a training session when a plane hijacked by terrorists struck the building, Mrs. Yarnell said. That morning, he called Tsuei to tell her the tower was being evacuated. That was the last time anyone heard from him, his mother said. At the memorial service held at Congregation Beth Shalom in Pompton Lakes, Matt was eulogized by his father, Ted, and college friend Rolf Neill.

Both talked about how Matt touched his family and friends with his intelligence and his wit. "Only Matt would take girls on a date to the track. Only Matt would think of an MG as a reliable car," Neill said in his speech. "Only Matt knew . . . where the best diners were in New Jersey. Only Matt had so many best friends." In addition to his parents of Kinnelon, Matt is survived by his sister, Lindsey at home; his brother, Brian, of Montclair; and two uncles. Donations can be sent to the Matthew D. Yarnell Memorial Scholarship Trust, Kinnelon High School, 12 Kinnelon Road, Kinnelon, N.J. 07405.

Profile by Kristen Alloway published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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