Paul Michael Benedetti

Paul Michael Benedetti
World Trade Center

Always Able to Laugh

No matter what calamity befell Paul Benedetti in this life, his response was inevitable: a joke. Thus, when he escaped the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, fighting smoke as he made a harrowing trek down the stairs, "he never made much of it, except as an occasion for a funny story," said his wife, Alessandra. The joke involved a very large lady ahead of him, walking down the stairs incredibly slowly, blocking the way.

Then there were all those voices from "The Simpsons," which he loved to imitate. Not to mention the office software he rigged so Homer Simpson's distress word -- "doh" -- popped up electronically whenever users made a mistake.

Actually Mr. Benedetti, 32, was a serious man, but made his wit "into a management tool" at Aon Corporation, where he was an assistant director of the client-relationship- services department. "I know that if he'd been trapped somewhere, he'd have been joking around, whatever the situation," his wife said. "Trying to break the tension."

Proflie published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 24, 2001.

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