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Friday, September 08, 2006

We Will Never Forget

2,996 Tribute
Peter K. Ortale
May 19, 1964 - September 11, 2001

37 years old

Murdered at WTC, 84th floor, South Tower

I have the honor of remembering Peter K. Ortale today. Five years ago he was murdered in the World Trade Center.

Peter seemed to be one of those people that everybody wants to be around. He accomplished so much, and seemed to live to make others happy.

Peter graduated from the William Penn Charter School in 1983; while there he was the quintencenial schollar-athlete. He was inducted into the Penn Charter Hall of Fame in 1999.

In 1996, Peter met the love of his life in Mary Duff. Their courtship was a passionate one involving world travel and lots of connections with family and friends. They married on May 13, 2000 in Philadelphia, and made their home in the SoHo section of Manhattan. Together, they would entertain friends with gourmet food, great wine and most important, laughter. On the weekends, Peter enjoyed relaxing in Sag Harbor.

Peter Ortale worked hard and played hard, his family said. He worked at Eurobrokers, a brokerage firm, also was a diehard lacrosse player - captain of his college team at Duke, a sometime member of the U.S. lacrosse team and a player for the New York Athletic Club. He had moved to New York from Philadelphia in 1988, his sisters said, and loved it here. He and his wife lived in SoHo and spent Labor Day at their home in Sag Harbor. After the first jet crashed into the World Trade Center last week, he called his mother, his wife and a friend in California from his office on the 82nd floor to say that he'd survived. "He thought it was an accident," Mary Ortale, one of his three sisters, said. "He was last seen heading for the staircase." He was with three co-workers and friends, Ortale said, none of whom has been found. The sisters and their mother, also named Mary, drove to New York from Pennsylvania last week to console Peter's grieving wife. Since then, they have made the rounds of area hospitals and information centers. "He's very generous, very strong," his sister Mary said, holding back tears. "Just a fun-loving guy."

Peter Ortale did not need occasions to send people presents. He just sent them when the desire percolated in him. That was often.

One of five siblings, he regularly liked to pick out something that caught his fancy and mail it to each of the others, as well as his mother. In the spring, the relatives got a book, "A Short Guide to a Happy Life," by Anna Quindlen. Just before the summer, he sent them a box of chocolates with a note, "Have a happy summer." His mother was constantly getting flowers.

"He did things without provocation, because he liked to," said his sister Mary Malitas.

When not working or sending presents, Mr. Ortale, 37, a bond broker at Euro Brokers, was often playing lacrosse. He was one of the best players on his high school team in Philadelphia, and again at Duke University. After he graduated, he played in Australia, and once he began his career, he continued to play for various leagues on weekends.

A few years ago, he took up cooking. He found it therapeutic. When friends and relatives visited him and his wife in SoHo, he would often turn out an elaborate meal, sometimes trying things not everyone might. Once he steamed a fish in the dishwasher. He thought it came out great.

Peter is remembered by most as a very different kind of guy. He was blessed with striking good looks, incredible athletic ability and an inner confidence that was unflappable. He commanded respect from all who encountered him.

Without question, he influenced many lives. Peter was a traveler both physically and intellectually. One of his favorite books was "The Magic of Believing". Peter was a visualizer long before it became popular. His life's philosophy was "if you can see it, you can be it." Peter lived life to the fullest. A friend of Peter's from high school remembered the quote that Peter had written upon graduation from Penn Charter: “Remember what we learned, ‘the softest thing: water, eventually wears away the hardest thing: rock’. Be both.”

Peter was a very generous person and valued family and friendship more than anything. In his words, friends are a priceless gift from God. Peter is loved so much by all of us and love never dies. What was once felt can never be unfelt. "The love we give always is the only love we keep."

Posthumously, in February 2003, Peter was inducted into the Pennsylvania Lacrosse Association’s Hall of Fame for his accomplishments on the lacrosse field at Penn Charter, Duke University and as a post collegiate club participant.

Duke University has dedicated six magnolia trees located at the West Edens Link Quadrangle on Duke’s West Campus to honor Peter and the other five alumni who were lost on September 11. Their hope is that these trees will connect future generations of Duke students with past generations.

Peter was honored on September 19, 2003 with a benefit from William Penn Charter High School; he graduated from OPC in 1983. He attended this school via a scholarship and talked about his days there as a special time for tremendous personal, intellectual and athletic growth. His family and friends have raised over $130,000 to create a scholarship in his name for future Penn students to have the same chance he did.

His wife, Mary Duff, mother, older brother and three sisters, four nephews and two nieces survive Peter.

Peter, rest in peace, and know that I will always remember and honor your memory.

Always remember. Never Forget.

Thank you to google and The New York Times for providing the information.