In Memory

William Tieste

William Tieste

William R. Tieste

World Trade Center

A Mystery Maven

When B.C. Tieste was in third grade, he was told to bring a picture to school of what he wanted to be when he grew up. It had a guy holding a briefcase; he wanted to sell stocks like his father. Now 22, he still does: "It's a job where you can be financially secure and still have time to be with your wife and kids."

His father, William R. Tieste, 54, was executive vice president of equity sales at Cantor Fitzgerald. After B.C. went away to school, Mr. Tieste and his wife, Debby, bought their dream house -- a five-bedroom, customized colonial with a pool, in Harding, N.J. Last summer, Mr. Tieste would stand in the pool and lean on the ledge reading a book. He liked mysteries.

Although the Tiestes had lived there for more than a year, they were still finishing things, like a game room with a big screen television and a pool table where family and friends could congregate on holidays. Thanksgiving was Mr. Tieste's favorite holiday. He said he liked the "four F's" -- family, friends, food and football. "What was difficult this Thanksgiving was that we used to cook together," Mrs. Tieste said. "But I had to laugh. When his mother was alive, she used to bring peas and carrots in cream sauce. I never could get it right. This year I finally got it right. Everything was right. It was almost as if he was standing there beside me, guiding me."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 26, 2001.

William Tieste, 54, led a life of many stories
In the third grade, B.C. Tieste's class had one of those "What do you want to be when you grow up?" projects. While many students came in with collages of firefighters and fighter pilots, Tieste had a picture of a guy in a suit holding a briefcase.

He wanted to be a stock trader -- just like his dad.

"It seemed like a dream job," said Tieste, now 22 and a senior studying finance at Babson College in Massachusetts. "He went to work, he left at 4, was home every day by at 5. He always had time for the family."

His father, William Tieste, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. He left for work on Sept. 11 as he always did, after a tender exchange with his wife, Debby. That was the last they saw each other.

"He definitely was a character," his wife said recently. "There are so many stories about him, and everybody has one."

There were the jokes he was always cracking. Or the money and hours he put into getting Nash Field in Chatham Township fixed up for local teams. Or the time he bought jackets for his son's Little League team with their records emblazoned on back, even though they still had two games left to play in the season, so confident was he that they'd win. And they did.

Born in New York City, Mr. Tieste grew up in Summit. He went to college at night while he worked full time. He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1976 and married in 1978.

The couple lived with their son, William Charles, better known as B.C., as well as Mr. Tieste's son from a previous marriage, Keith. After living in Chatham for many years, they moved to Harding about a year and a half ago.

When asked his age, Mr. Tieste would always tell people that he was approaching the national speed limit. To which his wife would add, "Doesn't that mean you should slow down a bit?"

But Mr. Tieste had no intention of slowing down. Even though he was approaching 55, he enjoyed his work. If he retired, he told his wife, he wouldn't know what to do with himself each day after walking the dog and making her morning coffee.

"He enjoyed it too much," said his son Keith. "It's an exciting job. Boring at times, but then there's all this excitement."

And it allowed him to spend time with his family.

"My father was always behind me," his older son said. The two loved to play golf together, and on the green they talked about everything. "He was a good guy, caring, and always looking to help others."

"I think probably the most important thing about him was his generosity," said Dennis Kroft of Convent Station, Mr. Tieste's best friend of 27 years. "I've seen him give money away to almost complete strangers because he saw the need."

Kroft and Mr. Tieste would chat almost every day as they commuted to their respective offices, Kroft said.

"We were best friends. We just talked -- about everything. . . . He would be a wonderful role model for anyone who wanted to have a wonderful friendship."

On Dec. 1, the day Mr. Tieste would have turned 55, his family and friends will gather in a memorial service at St. Vincent Martyr Church in Madison.

Profile by Paula Saha published in THE STAR-LEDGER.