Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering Matthew M. Picerno

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11. On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

We will honor them by remembering their lives.

Matthew M. Picerno was a limited partner and head of the New York municipal bond desk for Cantor Fitzgerald. Every day, he would commute from his home in Holmdel, NJ to his office on the 104th floor of One World Trade Center. Sadly, Matthew lost his life on September 11, 2001. He was 44 years old.

So often in tragic situations, a victim's life is reduced to a short series of sentences, each one trying to convey some sense of the person they describe. We take in these brief descriptions and move on. This time, however, I was fortunate in that I had the opportunity to learn more about Matthew Picerno and the life he lived. For that, I am grateful.

By all accounts, Matthew was a vibrant and energetic man with a tremendous zest for life. A devoted husband and father of three children, Matthew loved spending time with his family. Matthew was the kind of father who would ski down a mountain backwards just so he could videotape his kids’ progress. He joined six other fathers in a “Dancing Dads” troupe at his daughter’s school, rehearsing for months for their recital. The routine? A contemporary version of “Macho Man”. Matthew was a coach for a local youth activities association, where he was involved with basketball, soccer, and baseball. He was also a diehard Giants fan. Matthew’s wife Petrina said:
"He was larger than life. He made everyone feel at home, part of the party. He was so very personable."
Matthew was born and raised in Jersey City; he attended Marist and St. Mary's High Schools. After marrying Petrina, the young couple moved to Bayonne, where Matthew worked as a longshoreman. A self-made man, Matthew graduated from Taylor Business Institute with an Associate's Degree. After taking his bond trader's test, Matthew began a successful career in finance. He began working for Titus & Donnelly in New York in 1985; he would stay there for ten years before moving on to Cantor Fitzgerald. Despite his success on Wall Street, however, there was another passion that Matthew wanted to pursue – winemaking.

Two years before, he and Petrina had opened the Bacchus School of Wine in Jersey City. For six months of the year, he would leave his day job at Cantor Fitzgerald and head over to Jersey City, where he would often work until 11:00 pm. The school was housed in a former two-truck garage, dressed up with Italian flags and piped-in Frank Sinatra music. "This was a hobby," said Petrina, "but he really enjoyed it. Municipal bond broker at day, winemaker at night.” Matthew planned on pursuing winemaking fulltime when he left Wall Street. It was a passion he was fortunate enough to share with many friends through his school. One of those friends, Scott Clarke, wrote in memory of Matthew:
"Matt, You were a good friend. I followed your dream and continued to make wine in your honor. You and my dad are my true wine tasters. With every glass everyone enjoys, may your true spirit and larger than life attitude bless them."
Husband. Father. Friend. Matthew was all of these, and much more. After reading about him and his remarkable life, I can’t help but feel inspired by his example. Matthew lived his life and lived it well, with passion, love, and a deep commitment to his family and friends. Such a person can never truly be gone. Petrina Picerno again said it best:
"He is here; he is in everyone’s hearts. He’s going to be on the mountain, when we are skiing, and he’s going to be with us forever… Matthew was just too much of a live spirit. You can’t bury something like that. He had a huge zest for life. He’s still here — he will always be here."
Matthew, my thoughts are with you and your loving family this day.

You are missed.


Dori (Aviva's mommy) said...

Very beautiful. It is so hard to read without tears in your eyes.

imbi said...

"Such a person can never truly be gone."

You are so right.

I'm so touched.

Ro said...

Wonderful job on your tribute.

I have also been blessed to remember someone who was lost from the Cantor Fitzgerald family. Justice has set up a blog linking the 2996 tributes for Cantor folks, please send her your link if you can. A link to her blog is on my tribute for Bernard Pietronico which is up at

Again, great job. Trader by day, winemaker by night. What a Rennaissance man!

Sandi said...

This is so beautiful. Wonderful tribute.

Thank you for reading mine, too.

rosagirl said...

Thank you for a beautiful tribute here. I honor Michael with you tonight as I read through hundreds of tributes. God bless America!

K said...

This is a beautiful tribute. So many good people lost...



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I never really knew you but i did infact remember you. You were the life of the parties, also the humor in the house. I still have a picture of you grandpop matt my dad matt and uncle mike. i look at it every now and then and just think of the only times i had with you. I am in the army now and i was recently deployed always keeping you in the back of my mind as one of my reasons to fight, to kill. I miss you and one day i will see you again uncle matt, say hi to my dad for me and tell him i miss and love him. always remembered, always loved.

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