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Empty Sky: NJ State 9/11 Memorial
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It astounded Edward Pykon's friends how a guy at the top strata of Wall Street could be so refreshingly comical.
A 33-year-old analyst and senior vice president at Fred Alger Management Inc., Mr. Pykon was a respected voice in the investment world.
But among his group of friends who grew up in West Orange, Mr. Pykon could diffuse a roomful of tension with a twist of his face.
"He had this funny lopsided grin, and as soon as you saw it, you cracked up," said friend Andrew Schildiner. "It was always amazing to us how someone could be so successful and be such a character."
Comic relief is one of the things best remembered about Mr. Pykon, a West Windsor resident who was among over three dozen Fred Alger workers lost on the 93rd floor of One World Trade Center. Some friends' final communication from him was a joke he e-mailed them days before the attack.
"You couldn't help but like him," Schildiner said.
There was another side of Mr. Pykon, however, that transcended the career and the joking -- his devotion to family.
After his mother died three years ago, Mr. Pykon wouldn't let his father, Francis, go more than a couple days without a visit or a call.
"He was very protective," Francis Pykon said.
Six months ago, Mr. Pykon and his wife, Jacqueline, had their first child, a daughter, Jordyn.
"He would just sit in front of the baby and watch her play," Francis Pykon said. "He could just sit there all day long and watch."
Born in West Orange, Mr. Pykon attended West Orange High School, where he played varsity basketball. He studied accounting and economics at Lehigh University, and earned an MBA from New York University. From school he went to Wall Street, bouncing around investment firms until landing at Fred Alger.
He ascended quickly there, becoming a oft-quoted analyst for the medical and pharmaceutical industry.
"At 33 years old, he embodied what many view as the American dream," Schildiner said.
Mr. Pykon's wife called him devoted, ambitious, honest and funny.
"As short as it was, he enjoyed it was a good life," Jacqueline Pykon said. "There were more good things coming, but, unfortunately, we don't always have control of that."