Simon Dedvukaj: Son of Albanian
Dedvukaj, his seven brothers and sisters agree, was the
good son. When his siblings had questions about Albanian
history, he was the encyclopedia they turned to. As a
13-year-old he sat for hours with his grandfather
learning about all things Albanian, while his brothers
played pool downstairs. Although he was born and raised
in New York, he remained close to Albania and its
"He was Old World in many ways," said his
brother-in-law, Joey Vukaj. "Take the way he honored
guests. If a visitor was at Simon's house, even for six
hours, Simon would stand the whole time."
"But," Mr. Vukaj continued, "he was New World in the
way he honored children." Mr. Dedvukaj, 26, who
supervised maintenance workers at the World Trade Center,
skimped on himself to take his nieces and nephews to
McDonald's and to buy them lavish Christmas presents.
"He dressed very mediocre so he could spend his money
on other people," Mr. Vukaj said. "He'd spend just $30 on
sneakers for himself and then he'd spend $200 on sneakers
for his nieces and nephews."
Two years ago, Mr. Vukaj and his wife, Donna, Mr.
Dedvukaj's oldest sister, went to a cousin's wedding in
Albania. "There was this gorgeous girl there," Mr. Vukaj
said. "When we went home we told Simon, `We met the girl
for you.'" Mr. Dedvukaj soon went to Albania to meet her,
and it was love at first sight. And soon his wife-to-be,
Elizabeth, moved to the United States. They would have
celebrated their first anniversary this past October.
"She was brought to a new world," said Nik Dedvukaj,
Simon's brother. "And then she was hit by something like
this. It's crazy."