Tuesday, September 12, 2006

EDWARD F. BEYEA: INDOMITABLE SPIRIT


The following is my tribute to Edward F. Beyea, as part of the 2,996 Project (http://www.dcroe.com/2996/) honoring the memories of the victims of September 11, 2001.


EDWARD F. BEYEA: INDOMITABLE SPIRIT

Everyone loved Ed. Bright. Cheery. Always telling jokes. Happy. Inspiring. Larger than life. These are some of the descriptions of 42 year old Edward F. Beyea by those who knew him. A computer programmer for 14 years at Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, he worked on the 27th floor of the North Tower at the World Trade Center.

Born on July 3, 1959, he grew up in Bath, NY "with a great circle of friends, among whom he was known for his energy, his enthusiasm, and his drive to push the envelope".

As a young man, "Ed made everyone laugh; even the teachers could not help but enjoy having him around in spite of his boyish antics. He emitted 'life'", remembered Diane Warner-Fisher. He was the class clown, others recall, the life of the party.

"Ed had a gift for story telling...he kept us laughing with his great sense of humor and his skillful delivery of the punchline. In spite of this, he took his friendships very seriously. He was very sincere in that. Ed taught us that life is to be enjoyed, and to live each moment to the fullest. He exemplified this, both before and after his accident, " recalled Mary (Joyce) Bennett

A diving accident when he was 22 years old left him paralyzed from the neck down and requiring round-the-clock care.

In 1983, Ed was in rehabilitation for the injury that left him paralyzed. Chaplain Robert Hyde "remembers him as having a great sense of humor that helped him to cope."

Becky Carter McKenna: "Meeting him {in the hospital} impacted my decision to go into the Fire Service/EMS, and news of his slow but steady recovery always inspired me. "

Later, he took courses at a computer skills program for people with disabilities and was hired by Blue Cross, working his way up to high-level program analyst.

Glen A. Rivara met Ed in a computer classroom. "His wheelchair never stopped him from learning, working, living and loving life to the fullest. From the day I met Ed and for the rest of my life, I will never face a difficult challenge without thinking, ' What would Ed do? Ed wouldn't quit so I can't either.' "

His dedicated aide for 14 years, Irma Fuller, described him: "He was crazy, full of life, a very charming man. His mind was brilliant. He was a happy man, smiling and telling jokes."

He went to work by subway every day despite his handicap. To type on his computer, he used a mouthpiece. His chin controlled the movements of his motorized wheelchair. Yet he didn't give up and he didn't complain. His sense of humor remained and his determined spirit remained in the face of these daily challenges. "He always (gave) you a cheery good morning. He always had something funny to say." said Fong Chin

Ed was extremely sociable and made friends easily. His closest friend was Abraham Zelmanowitz, who worked in the same office. Evelyn Zelmanowitz, Abe's sister-in-law: "Abe was a devoutly religious Orthodox Jew and Ed was a Christian, and even though they came from such different backgrounds, they had many common interests. They enjoyed the same music, books, movies, computer games, jokes, and they often went out to dinner together with other co-workers." Every three months Ed, Abe, another friend, Manny, and Ed's aide, Irma, would go out for a special dinner. They took turns picking up the tab, never skimping, "always at a kosher restaurant. Whatever they wanted, they got."

He had already faced the greatest challenges in his life with courage and humor. Now, on September 11, 2006, Ed decided to wait behind as others evacuated first. As they waited for their turn to be rescued, his best friend Abe Zelmanowitz helped Ed Beyea talk to his mother by dialing and holding Ed’s cell phone to his ear. They succeeded in persuading Irma to save herself. Firemen told them periodically that someone eventually would try to carry Beyea out. Somehow these two men made it down 6 flights to the 21st floor. Exhorted to leave numerous times, Zelmanowitz refused: “No,” he said, according to a building staff member, “I’m staying with my friend.”

Ed Beyea. He inspired by example, and encouraged others. His warmth and courage affected everyone who knew him. In return he received the devotion of many, and the selfless loyalty of one. Everyone lucky enough to have met him will never forget him.

2 comments:

SEAWITCH said...

You did a wonderful job. Each tribute I read brings the person to the fore.

barbara said...

how touching. this man is an inspiration as is his friend.