Kestenbaum, Howard

Died: September 11, 2001

Granvilette Kestenbaum and their daughter, Lauren

There always seems to be so much time and yet now there isn’t. On behalf of Lauren and myself I would like to thank all of those who have sent their condolences.

Howie was always so alive that when he just went on a business trip, and was away from us a little while, the house no longer laughed.

We had celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary in June. We did not have a movie relationship. We built and had a real life. Which was more dear for our efforts than any storybook could have been.

How had been on a spiritual journey. His goal, in all its simplistic wholeness, was to be a “good man.” He would have been so surprised to find that so many people remembered him. He was such an unassuming guy. How had become the kind of guy for whom the idea of dress down (in the button up business world) was invented. He felt that suits separated people from each other.

The gentle man who tried to save How’s life was Vijay Paramsothy. He died in his effort. He was 26 years old and his parents’ only child. He worked for and with Howie. Truly there were never two kinder, warmer or more open men. If you would like to express your condolences to Vijay’s parents (who live in Malaysia), you may email them at

Our families are now forever joined and I hope the Paramsothys may be included in the Williams’ alumni family. So that now anything you do for How you will also know that you do it for Vijay. (The fund at Beth Am is in both of their names.)

I want to especially thank all of you for taking the time to appreciate our really “nice guy,” our “good man.” Although he would have been surprised at how much others thought of him, Lauren and I are not.
Granvilette Kestenbaum

Paul Sloan

We all mourn the senseless loss of Howard Kestenbaum. Kesty was a dear friend. From Williams Hall to Wood House, as roommates, members of St. Anthony’s and teammates on the freshman and varsity wrestling teams, together we threaded our way through four glorious years at Williams. Ours was the sort of friendship that could be resumed at any time, in easy stride, and with the same comfortable trust and empathy we shared thirty years ago. That’s why his loss now feels so painfully immediate though we had not seen each other in years.

Throughout those tumultuous years of the mid-60s, Kesty was always solid.Thinking back, I am struck by a truth that had previously eluded me. Kesty was our center of gravity. His work ethic, compassion, humor and decency were constants in a time when constancy was not in favor. No doubt, he left Williams to become a center of gravity for his family and community, and my heart aches for their loss.

The nation now struggles to deal with the unfathomable hatred from which this tragedy sprang. We can only hope that the world becomes as wise as Howard Kestenbaum.


Lyrics to “In My Life”
There are places I remember, all my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better, some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments, with lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living, in my life, I’ve loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning, when I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection, for people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them, in my life I love you more
Though I know I’ll never lose affection, for people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them, in my life I love you more
In my life I love you more

Psalms 150
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in His sanctuary.
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty deeds.
Praise Him according to His exceeding greatness!

Praise Him with trumpet sound.
Praise Him with lute and harp!
Praise Him with timbrel and dance.
Praise Him with strings and pipe!
Praise Him with sounding cymbals.
Praise Him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

Classmate Comments

From George Tuthill
I am so terribly sorry to hear this. I remember Howard well as a fellow physics major.

From Hank Grass
I’m sorry to hear about Howard Kestembaum’s apparent death. Please extend my condolences to his family. I don’t believe I know him personally.

From Andy Cadot
There must be thousands of heroes whose deeds will go unsung due to the absence of a surviving witness. It was, and remains, so pointless and sad. .. Our hearts go out to Lauren.

From Chris Beam
Thanks for forwarding the sad news about Howie Kestenbaum. I didn’t know him very well, but do remember him.

From Charles Ross
What terrible news! Two of my three daughters work in the city, so I have been on edge all week. I shall send my prayers to the Kestenbaums.

From George Malnati
Thank you for your note. There is some omitted data. Did you get the data about him making it to the 78th floor and getting help there via cell phone? and then no more communication? Just looking for some hope that he did make it out and is lost somewhere. A number of the members of my church have gone to NY to help as volunteer ministers.They are the guys in the yellow shirts who are helping….My daughter changed trains there an hour before it happened but, thank God, she is safe and sound.Sincerely, George Malnati

Granvilette Kestenbaum

August 2007
To the Class of ’67

You have been so wonderful to me and Lauren. We thought you would be no less. Howard loved Williams. The time he spent there, with all of you, was remembered as one of the high points of his life.
Thank you so much for always including us and welcoming us as Williams alumnus.
As for us, Lauren graduated with a MLS. This year, in May, Lauren graduated form Stanford Law School. She will be living in L.A. She will be working for somebody, somebody and somebody.
And so it goes. Our love to all, Gran and Lauren

Gregg Meister

This is to let you know that the memorial services for our classmate, Howard Kestenbaum, were held Sunday, September 30, at the Beth Ahm Synagogue, in Verona, New Jersey. According to his 24-year old daughter, Lauren, special moments during the standing-room only service included testimonials from his friends, a rendition of the Beatles’ “In My Life,” and a reading of Psalms 150.

At the time of his death Howie was the Executive Vice President of Risk Services (AON) and very actively involved in Beth Ahm. He was especially noted for his work in Kaballah studies, a very rarified form of Jewish mysticism. More than a few of the fellow congregants apparently noted with pleasure that a man well trained in the field of applied physics could also thoroughly appreciate the world of mysticism.

Both Lauren and Howard’s wife, now widow, Granvilette, may be reached at their home address, 32 Oakwood Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07043-1917, and by phone at 973-783-0172. Contributions in Howard’s memory may be sent to the Beth Ahm Synagogue, 56 Grove Avenue, Verona, New Jersey, 07044.

In talking with Lauren I sensed again how close we Williams men are as classmates, even though now separated by three decades. And I realized –especially after learning that Lauren graduated three years ago from Haverford College, where my daughter is a sophomore–how much our lives continue to intersect, even when we are little aware of it. As one who has at least a passing understanding of the Kaballah, I know that Howard would particularly appreciate these “intersections,” and I feel a void in not being able to chat about this with him.

For Experience, a Shelter

Howard Kestenbaum worried about the homeless. He spent nights in a shelter to see what it was like, and would respond to a request for a dollar with a five, along with a suggestion to get some soup and a sandwich.

He was involved with his temple, Beth Ahm in Verona, N.J., and was impressed that so many there had been through crises like the Depression and World War II. His friends and relatives speak of him as unassuming and friendly. Lauren, his 24-year-old daughter, said she remembered him at home in Montclair, “standing in my doorway, try to get me to go do something with him, like go for a walk. “Him in a flannel shirt,” she said. “My dad was a good guy, he was a really good guy.”

He met his wife, Granvilette, when they were both graduate students at Columbia. He was studying astrophysics; she was in social work. At Aon Risk Services, Mr. Kestenbaum, 56, used his training to develop models to help clients understand how real certain risks were. In his office on the 103rd floor of the south tower, he hung a lightly weighted paper cup from the ceiling — and noted how it and the building swayed in high winds.

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