Ludwig John Picarro
Lud Picarro was that kind of person. You met him, and his kindness, good humor and integrity so impressed you that you knew he was someone you'd never forget.
The fact that Lud died on September 11th in Tower Two is ironic. He didn't work there. He was employed across the street, at One Liberty Plaza, as Senior Vice President of Diversified Products for Zurich American Insurance. He had worked for The Zurich for 17 years. He just happened to be at a meeting with Aon, a premier insurance brokerage firm, on that fateful Tuesday morning when the plane hit Tower Two. Aon leased nine floors in that Tower and itself lost over five hundred employees in the disaster.
But our story is about Lud.
L&M worked for Aon until a fateful downsizing in April of 2001. His many friends and contacts in the insurance industry provided leads for other jobs, and one of them was an Underwriting position with the Zurich.
As the final part of the interview process, he had a meeting with Senior VP Lud Picarro. That is where L&M met this wonderful man. They interviewed for an hour or so, and when L&M returned home, he handed Lud's business card to me and said "Put this with my file. I doubt that I will get the job. But I've just met a good man and want to keep this."
L&M went on to describe Lud - "he's a big guy, must have played football or something in school. We talked about the job and then when he was done, asked about my family, talked about his. I've never felt so comfortable in an interview. The man is terrific. Just terrific."
Every so often in the following week, L&M would just smile. When I asked him what he was thinking about, he'd say "Lud Picarro is just such a good man."
L&M is not easily impressed with people. His ultimate compliment is that someone is a 'good man' or a 'good lady'. If I hear him say those words of someone, I know the person of whom he speaks is someone in line with L&M's own wonderful characteristics of extreme integrity and caring for others, for family-centeredness, for fairness, humility, and justice. Those are his core values and the criteria from which another can earn the designation of being a 'good man' or a 'good lady'. In most cases, the persons to whom L&M ascribes his ultimate compliment also have the gift of humor. L&M does not laugh easily or often. But those who can make him laugh deserve the title of 'good man' or 'good lady'. Hardworking, honest, caring, humble, honorable, and humorous - that's all you need to be added to the list.
No wonder few are so delegated, is it not? I myself have not made that list.
So I knew Lud Picarro was a gem, a 'keeper', and I filed his business card away in the 'Special' section of the Rolodex where I keep the 'good men' and 'good ladies'. The space reserved for special people. It's a very small section in the Rolodex, but one that is honored.
Anyway, as it turns out, L&M would have a second contact with Lud when he called L&M a few weeks later to say that they had gone with another candidate for the job. L&M was not offended. After all, he had no experience in Underwriting, although it was learnable. Lud seemed genuinely sorry that he did not award the position to L&M, but L&M knew he was just a good man doing the right thing for his company and applauded the integrity that he used to make tough decisions. They bid each other well, and said goodbye.
Again, L&M smiled for a week. Something about Lud just drew out the smiles in L&M. I bless him for that. L&M seldom is given an opportunity to smile.
As luck would have it, L&M did get another job in August, 2001, with a rival insurance company, and was on his very first onsite assignment on September 11th. It took us hours to reach him by phone to tell him that the Towers had been hit, his daughter finally getting through before I could. L&M was on the phone with me as I sobbed hsyterically, standing in front of the TV and watching Tower Two fall. He knew what it meant for his former employer. Neither of us knew until I read the message boards the next day that Lud was in Aon's space when that Tower fell, and what it would mean for the rest of our lives.
The look on his face when I told him about Lud is one I will never forget. He went pale. He looked like a mule had kicked him in the stomach. Even now, five years later, the fall of the Twin Towers is synonymous with "The Day We Lost A Good Man" - Lud Picarro.
So we choose to memorialize Lud not for the way he died, but for the way he lived for the forty-four years he graced this planet. I remember the messages left on the memorial message boards, those of family and friends, who mention his fierce love for and devotion to his beloved wife Susan (his ninth-grade sweetheart) and his two sons, Andrew and Matthew. Andrew was 15 and Matthew, nine, when their dad died. Lud was a dad who loved sports and had played football in high school (L&M was right!), made All-State Honors for High School Football in his native Pennsylvania in 1974 and earned a football scholarship to college. Lud was a dad who took his boys to professional games, and attended every one of their own games. Andrew is a football player, Matthew favors baseball. Lud scheduled his business meetings to always be home in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, whenever his boys had a game. And he'd be there, cheering them on, proud dad of two wonderful sons.
We choose also to remember the many references to this man's senses of humor and integrity. Those references came as no surprise to us, given L&M's brief-but-memorable acquaintance with Lud. Those special gifts, he shared openly with the world.
It causes me to wonder - if one job interview and one telephone call could create such lasting memories, how full are the memories of those who knew Lud in his every day life for a week, a year, a lifetime?
I have a sense that if Lud were reading those memorial posts, or even this one, it would come as quite a surprise to him that he left such an impact on so many people. Humility was another trait that he displayed in that brief encounter with L&M on a job interview. I can almost picture him, embarrassed by the accolades but honored by the awe. And not understanding most of it, because Lud just lived his values, and that's what good men do.
Some things, you just can't hide. "Goodness" is one of them. Lud was, and is still, a 'good man'.
I think his life was summed up best in a memorial post by friend Joseph Bertone -
"Always remembered...ever, alive."