Tributes from Family and friends from

Cantor Fitzgerald

Mike loved his work at Cantor Fitzgerald and all the people around him were like family. Every summer he had a big theme party at his home in Old Greenwich, CT where he invited many of his Cantor friends as well as his close friends because he considered them all family.

He enjoyed Cantor so much that he brought his two cousins, Kurt and Derek, to work, help and learn on the trading desk. Derek even wrote an essay for college admission about working on the desk and thinking it might be his future.

Mike enjoyed helping everybody. He helped his friends start businesses, even his sister Rhonda. He even hosted his friends, Chris and Beth's wedding at his home. All this was done quietly and without expecting any recognition. Mike enjoyed skiing, boating, running, and was an avid spinner. Fun and friends went together. Mike was active in charity work such as raising money for Multiple Sclerosis in a bike-a-thon. He also helped to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Our last and fondest memory was this past July when we spent two weeks in Chatham, MA. On Cape Cod with Michael. The family was constantly together, along with Michael's closest friends, enjoying the summer activities. This was the first time he had taken two weeks vacation and it was our last time together.

We miss you and will always love you, Michael.

Mom, Dad, and Rhonda, Michael’s Family

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Although we have written a tribute as a family, as Michael's mother I wanted to write my own thoughts of my wonderful son. Michael was the kind of son every mother dreams of having...loving, giving, thoughtful, generous and smart, too. Whenever I had a problem, Michael had the solution. He always remembered every occasion and anniversary with beautiful cards, flowers and gifts no matter how busy he was. This was done in a quiet, unassuming way. Michael made you feel good just by being in his company.

Michael touched so many lives with his kindness and gentle spirit. This was evident by the outpouring of love from so many people not just from the United States, but from Canada, England and Singapore. His classmates from Sharon High School in Massachusetts where Michael grew up have established a scholarship in his memory.

Michael, my beautiful son, you were savagely taken from us on September 11, but your shining spirit will live on forever in my heart and the hearts of your family and friends. I miss you and love you "from here to China and back again" as I used to tell you when you were a little boy.
Mom

Iris Rothberg, Mother

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Click Here for "Let me tell you about Michael", by Iris Rothberg, September 23, 2001

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Click Here for "Memories of Michael" by Rhonda Rothberg, September 23, 2001

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Click Here for the address given by Lee Amaitis, President and CEO, Cantor Fitzgerald, October 6, 2001 at a Service of Remembrance held at St Paul's Cathedral, London

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Click Here for a personal note from Lee Amaitis to the family

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(Click on the letter below to enlarge it)

Celini, Michael's Grandmother

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Michael Rothberg was the son of our dear friends, Jay and Iris Rothberg. Through them I heard of all his success, his charitable works and his kindnesses to all who knew him and strangers as well. So, when my youngest daughter Cathy moved to New York City, I called Michael and asked him to watch out for her. He did. He took her to dinner, listened to her concerns, and generally helped this apprehensive newcomer adjust to the hustle and bustle that was New York.

One night he took her to a movie. While they were watching the film a scuffle broke out in the theater and someone yelled, "Look out, he's got a gun!" Michael wrapped himself around Cathy and with his body he shielded her and got her safely out of the theater. He risked his life to protect my daughter. That was Michael, always thinking of the other person first.
His spirit and his kindness has touched many lives and we will never forget him.

Rest well Michael, you are safe in our hearts.

Judith Levy, Family Friend

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When lives suddenly come to an end, we often struggle to find words to eulogize our lost ones. If there ever was an exception, Michael Rothberg is the epitome. My cousin was one of the elite few to combine the often-contradictory traits of benevolence and personal success. While employed in the most unforgiving industry, Michael managed to exhibit tremendous humanity while simultaneously ascending into the top ranks within his profession. The impact Michael left imprinted on those who were once privileged to be graced by his presence will never be forgotten.

Derek Flionis, Cousin

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I may not have met Michael in person but it sure feels like I did. I remember Michael as a loving caring brother, son, cousin and friend. I know that everybody Michael talked to, he touched there lives some how, whether it was his fond smile or just hearing his lovely soft voice. Michael would call his sister Rhonda every day at her business, that he helped her with. Rhonda and Michael had such a wonderful relationship and I remember they would always be laughing or playing little jokes on each other over the phone.

On September 11, 2001, I had spoken to Michael that morning. He had called to speak to Rhonda his sister but she was not in the office yet. Michael and I started talking for about another 5 mins on the phone. I remember Michael asking me if he sounded ok, I said, "Yeah you sound fine". He then began to tell me that they got a new phone system in that day. Then we started to laugh and then I hung up the phone. Then two minutes later--just two minutes later--the plane had struck the first tower. I was the last person whom Michael would talk to out of his office.

I just want everyone to know that Michael was a wonderful person and he would do anything for anyone at any cost. I think about him every day of my life. I will never forget that America just lost a smart and respectable person.

Your family and I miss you so much, and we love you. Michael Rothberg, you will always be in our heart and in our soul. GOD BLESS

Lauren Marie Breen, Michael is my Boss's Brother

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It's the little day-to-day things that only a few shared during conversation that made Michael so special to me. Weeks before September 11, Michael invited my sons to a day atop the WTC inside the company of Cantor Fitzgerald. Soon after his invitation, Michael learned a huge deal would take place on that particular Monday and it would require all of his attention. He did not postpone their visit or even mention his pending circumstances.

Derek and Kurt made the trip to New York and shared the experience of a lifetime as they observed the amazing qualities of their cousin Michael at work. Now, they are both holding on very tight to this memory, a precious, last gift from Michael.

During his family vacation on Cape Cod, Michael invited my mom, (his grandmother), to go for a leisurely drive in his new convertible. Along the way, he stopped and purchased for her a wide brimmed hat that tied under the chin. Always thinking of others, his intention was to protect her from the sun.

If you spent any time with Michael, I'm sure special moments are popping into your mind as you remember the little things he did for you.

Michael, I will always remember you as my brother's little boy, smart, witty, and as entertaining at age four as you were at 39. Always in my memory, with special love,

Debbie Flionis, Aunt

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To his extended family, Michael was – and will remain -- a cherished nephew and first-born cousin, who carved distinguished paths for his younger cousins and admiring aunts and uncles. As his father’s sister, I watched a darling little boy, wise beyond his years, become a focused, athletic and gracious man who demonstrated love in great and small ways.

Michael lived with joy and generosity, and in his brief life created a reality beyond any vision this family had experienced. A visit to Michael’s domain was an event, but his gracious down-to-earth qualities, innate sweetness, humor and modesty allowed us to share in his beautiful world and to believe that extraordinary things were possible.

Each of us needed much more time with Michael, but wanting his values and vision to live on may be the impetus for this family to create for ourselves far more than we might have without his strength and spirit as a model. You will always be with us, Michael, and through our tears I see you cheering us on.

Love, Auntie Emily

Emily Abrams, Aunt

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Over the years since September 11, 2001 I have had trouble verbalizing my feelings about the loss of my vibrant cousin Michael.  There are no words to comprehend or explain exactly its impact on myself and our family.  I feel that in his absence I have perhaps come to know him better than when he was here. 

I always thought I would have more time to spend with Michael in the future - more time to get to know my
wonderful cousin.  I knew Michael was a very special person, but it was not until he was taken from us that I understood the breadth of his generous heart.  Michael was a beautiful, caring, giving individual. 

Michael - you are forever in my thoughts.  I will always strive to mirror the goodness that you epitomized. 

We all miss you.

Love,

Allison Abrams, cousin

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So many of my childhood and teenage memories revolve around Michael and our special friendship. Living across the street from each other we spent all our free time together, doing gymnastics, rehearsing our so called "band", riding bikes, talking in our own private "language". In high school we'd get passes for him to tutor me, but instead we'd practice dance moves!

College separated us, but didn't break the bond. Michael moved me into my first apt in Boston. He danced with me at my wedding. When my first son was born I named him Michael and hoped that he would have my best friend's intelligence, sense of humor and compassion. I looked forward to the day when we could sit, reminisce and laugh.

I still can't believe that day will never come. Michael was such an important and meaningful part of my life. I will always treasure our friendship. I will always love him, I will always miss him.

Ann Schindler Fantini, Friend

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"WHEREVER A BEAUTIFUL SOUL HAS BEEN, THERE IS A TRAIL OF BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES."

This saying epitomizes the life of Michael Rothberg. Although he had only 39 years on this earth, he touched the lives of many in wonderful and caring ways. He made a positive difference! A BEAUTIFUL SOUL!

Michael, you are sadly missed, but will be forever in the hearts and thoughts of those who were fortunate to know you...whether through family, friendship or business ties.

Sandee Bloom, Family Friend

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Michael, I love you with all my heart. I'll always remember how you brought me to "LCG", lovely Coral Gables, for college. You were there so much that some people thought you went there! Remember the time we flew on People's Express? Michael, you were one of the truest, kindest, most wonderful people I've ever known and I will always consider you one of my closest friends!

Laura Pearlstein-Friend

Laura G Pearlstein, Friend

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My last endeavor with Michael was his association with the 2001 Mutual Funds Against Cancer Benefit, we saw the kindness of the people in financial services industry willing to help people with Cancer. The most recent terrorist attacks upon the United States are the worst type of malignant act upon civilization. I was able to fight my malignancy, and with Michael's effort at Cantor, so will many children. Michael could not fight the malignancy that was afflicted upon him.

malignant (m -l g n nt) (as defined by www.dictionary.com)adj.
1.Showing great malevolence;
2.disposed to do evil. Highly injurious; pernicious.
3.Pathology. a. Threatening to life; virulent: a malignant disease.b.Tending to metastasize; cancerous. Used of a tumor.

Please remember the heroic efforts of the people who helped fight this malignancy, were victims to this malignancy and were left to live with this malignancy and find a solution, so those who died, did not die in vain.

I love you Michael and all the Rothberg's!

Paula Pearlstein, Family Friend

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Michael, you have done so much for us - where do I begin. You have been a coach, friend and mentor for over 10 years. Matt and I have always regarded you one of our dearest friends. You've always been our "go-to guy" whether we were making big decisions like buying our home or small decisions like the evening's wine selection, you always were there to guide us along. How fortunate are we that you were also Matt's boss. We always enjoyed our vacations together - ski trips, The Cape, Nantucket, Amagansett and our dinners out were always such a pleasure.

Kara and Kelly end their nightly prayers with a special blessing for Daddy and "Daddy's friends - Mike, Chris, Carl..." I hope you can hear us.

I still find myself asking Matt for your advice - I just wish I could hear you. Michael, we will never forget you. Till we meet again.

Susan McDermott, Colleague's Wife and Friend

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If I could choose one person that I knew to stand for an ideal human being and a role model for myself it would have been Michael Rothberg. In both his job and everyday social life, Mike possessed unmatched expertise, friendliness, determination, personality, and optimism. Mike’s attitude never changed day in and day out. He was one of the most generous people I have ever known.

The last time I spent time with Michael was in August 2001 and every minute we were together there was not one dull moment. In one weekend, we drove his boat around the bay while listening to music, we cooked our own steak dinner with salad and rice, we hung out at the ESPN Zone in Times Square, we went out to eat, we watched movies, and we spent a full day watching Michael do what he did best…being a remarkable, successful businessman.

The day we spent at the office, Mike bought pizzas for everyone in his section and he made sure my brother and I did not leave without at least hearing what the business was all about. The people I worked with that day had nothing but outstanding things to say about Michael. Mike had such a significant influence on the lives of friends, family, and co-workers. He was amazing and I hope I can come even close to being the person Michael was. We miss you.

Love Cousin Kurt

Kurt Flionis, Cousin

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May 27, 2002

Dear Michael,

You will always be remembered in our thoughts and prayers. Matt and Sue always speak very highly of you, your friendship, and your marvelous team of fellow employees you assembled at Cantor Fitzgerald. I will never forget the happy times talking with you at Matt and Sue's annual gathering for "The Hunt" in October, partying at the beach house in Amagansett, and, of course, visiting your beautiful, historic home in Old Greenwich.

Thank you for being such a positive influence on our family. You have touched the lives of many families. On your special day, Michael, we give special thanks for the gift of your life and intellect; your spirit and courage will always be with us.

Hank Kroh and family

Hank Kroh, Matt McDermott's father-in-law

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Mike was such a special person. My husband, Blake, always considered himself enormously lucky to have Mike for a boss. He learned so much from him.
I will always remember Mike as an extremely smart, kind, honest and generous man. I was fortunate to have known him.

Raina Wallens, colleague's wife

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Michael was a wonderful person
Who generated admiration and respect.
Dearly loved by family, friends and colleagues,
Indelibly remembered with lasting effect.

An intelligent, succesful man
With good humor and quiet humility.
On Wall Street he traded with integrity,
Advising clients with unmatched ability.

A good athlete with form and fortitude
who had a natural aptitude for winning.
Along with strength and endurance
For serious cycling known as spinning.

While biking one day he found
His historic Connecticut home - overlooking Long Island Sound.
House and gardens he impressively restored
Into a beautiful home that he adored.

A caring, compassionate person
Who saw altruistic visions with clarity,
He knew there were many worthy causes
To support with characteristic charity.

Loving parents Jay and Iris,
Michael's devoted dad and mother,
Adored their wonderful son
With depths of love unlike any other.

Mutual admiration played a role
In a sibling relationship which couldn't be fonder
Because there was heartfelt love and loyalty
Between Michael and his sister Rhonda.

His artistic grandmother Celia, represents each one
Of all four grandparents who loved their dear grandson.
Aunts Emily and Debbie, cousins and many good friends,
Everyone who loved Michael won't let meories of him ever end.

Barbara R. Leventhal, Friend of Iris - Michael's dear mother

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Who would have thought that we would be gathering here today in memory of Mike? To me, this is backwards, because Mike was the constant in our lives. Always there, always pleasant, always smiling. Always dependable, and always loyal. Always hosting, arranging and organizing. Always kind and generous. And always giving.

I’ve known Mike for 21 years. We met in 1980 at McGill University, and quickly became good friends. We were roommates in Montreal for 4 years – 4 years that were characterized by outrageously fun times. Think about it. When you drop two 18-year-old boys off in a large North American city, unsupervised for months, they’re bound to have fun. Mike had an uncanny ability to party and enjoy what Montreal had to offer, yet still pull off very high grades. One year, mid-semester, Mike and I took off to Florida for two weeks. Missed class. I ended up missing a midterm and dropping at least one course. I’m sure Mike managed to get extra credit from the experience. We told our parents that our phone wasn’t working properly, that it could only make outbound calls. Those were the days before caller ID.

After University, Mike lived at my folks’ place for several months while he finished his Masters thesis, and prior to launching his incredibly successful career. Success made possible by Mike’s unique combination of intelligence, common sense, drive, technological literacy, and an incredibly amicable and pleasant personality. Or perhaps it was because Mike and my Mom would sit around eating a certain brand of soup all the time hoping fabulous things would happen to them like in the soup’s TV commercials. He actually got a phone call for a job interview while eating that soup, and ended up landing a job at Bear Stearns.

After living in New York City for a few years, Mike moved out to Greenwich with my brother Jamie. This is when his friendship with my family really took off. I had moved to Western Canada, and Mike got to know my family even better than I did. He was thought of as the fifth Bolton boy. I think it was the hair. Over the past 15 years, Mike spent Christmas with my family more than I did. These years were characterized by new friends, beach days, porch parties, barbeques, boating, and as usual, loads of fun. During the winter, Mike, Jamie and Chi were fixtures in Vermont, renting chalets and skiing together almost every weekend. From the ride up, to the first beer, to the first run – the ski conditions didn’t matter. It was all about friends and having fun. One year, they rented a house owned by Killington’s theater director. They broke into the costume closet, outfitted themselves in outrageous costumes and showed up at a local bar. I know these were amazing years for Mike.

And then came home ownership. Who could’ve done that better than Mike? He’s the only guy I know that ended up buying a house that wasn’t even on the market at a yard sale. Mike’s house was his passion. He had an incredibly keen eye for detail, and incredibly good taste. He conceptualized everything about that house and slowly went about creating it. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t completely at home there. And Mike opened his home to everyone. My brother Chi and his wife Beth had their wedding there. Mike was so generous. He just stood back and let everyone take over. Almost like a guest in his own home. Much to Beth’s chagrin, afterwards, I would accidentally refer to her wedding as Mike’s party.

I guess I’m recounting these times in Mike’s life to demonstrate what an amazing guy he was. He excelled at everything he did. He excelled as a brother, a son and a grandson. He excelled as a businessman, a colleague, and a competitor. He excelled as an uncle, a neighbor, a skier, and nephew. He excelled as a friend. Mike thoroughly enjoyed life, and lived life to its fullest. He did everything he wanted, and had no regrets. And Mike had a way of making everyone feel worthwhile and important. He was a lot of things to a lot of people. Most importantly, Mike was an exceptional person.

We will miss you, Mike.

Alan Bolton, spoken at Michael's memorial service on September 23, 2001.

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Marcus Aurelius wrote, “How quickly all things disappear…in the universe the bodies themselves [disappear], but in time the remembrance of them [remains].” It is our remembrance here today that we gather to celebrate Mike’s life and to confer on to him good passage.

It is these moments of our lives that find us without words – words cannot express our sorrow, words cannot express our anger, and words surely cannot express the emptiness we now feel. Yet we try to do so anyway in the small hope we might see, and perhaps even feel, a little brightness in this dark hour. It is dark for us as Mike’s family and his friends…and it is indeed a dark hour for this nation.

Our brightness comes from each of us knowing Mike in our own unique and special way. Louise and I were sharing stories the other night and realized, that what made it special about our relationships with him, was the sum of minor, seemingly trivial moments that would take us too long to explain to anyone else. In relationships, especially close relationships, it’s really the little things. To others they might seem trivial, yes, but they are the things that we each will carry with us.

I will carry within me above all else his integrity and sense of fairness. Mike worked in an industry not typically known for the content of its character. His virtue was that he stood up for what he believed was right.

This integrity was also evident in the people Mike hired. They were like he was: down-to-earth, kind, generous, and easy going. Knowing the people on his desk and their character, I imagine that they were probably arguing about who should be the last person out the door that Tuesday morning. But there’s no question about it – those were his guys and he was the last one to leave.

In an industry of self-inflated egos, it should not go unnoticed that Mike, like his grandmother Celia, was humble and modest often shunning attention, and I think that he would have felt a little self-conscious about our gathering here today to honor and remember him.

That we gave each other a hard time over any signs of excess or overindulgence was a continuous theme in our friendship. So, when Mike bought his convertible a year ago – a decision which took him three years to make, as Jay reminded me this week – this was open season for me to give him a hard time.

When it came time to get the car, he called one Saturday morning and asked if I would give him a ride “somewhere.” This meant that we were going down to the dealership to pick up the car. Now you need to understand that this car had been in the dealership’s back lot for a while and they were, well, getting a little tired of storing it for Mike.

Anyway, we drive over to the dealership, he picks up the keys, gets the two-dollar-lecture from Resnick about the car and then – being modest – turns to me and says that he’s going to take it home – which I knew meant that he would go home, put the car in the garage, and close the door.

I told him that there was no way he was going to do this and said that we were going to put the top down, take that thing out, and break a few laws. Which, of course, is exactly what we did. He even let me smoke my cigar in the car that day. Can you believe it? Here was a guy who let me smoke my smelly cigar in his brand new car. This is how Mike treated his friends – with loyalty.

For those of you going over to his house after this service, you might notice, as you’re walking up the pathway to the front door, a pink flamingo in the small garden to the left. About a year ago, Louise picked him up in a tiny store in Maine and brought him home for Mike when we played croquet. Apparently, the two of them felt that croquet just wasn’t croquet without a pink flamingo.

As a joke, she placed the flamingo in this small garden expecting that it would be there temporarily. But the flamingo never moved, and this past winter, you could often see his little head peeking through the snow.

One day, Katherine Cayman, who has been in charge of Mike’s garden, innocuously suggested its movement to a different place in the yard, to which Mike responded, the flamingo stays. It may seem trivial, but this represented the loyalty he placed on his relationships. Louise put the flamingo there and there it would stay, because Mike knew she put it there.

Mike and I analyzed everything and I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the importance he placed on accuracy in our analyses – a trait he got from his mother. We spent hours doing this – whether it was trying to win converts on the pronunciation of bruschetta or analyzing all the different ways of contracting germs – we analyzed it all.

Today marks the first day of fall – and if Mike were here he would not hesitate in his pursuit of accuracy to say, well John, fall actually started yesterday afternoon. Anyway, there was a chill in the air about two weeks ago and I could feel fall coming and I thought about how Mike and I would once again split and stack fire wood behind his garage. This would have been the third year now. Of course, I looked forward to this and Mike did too because he and I sat at our desks five days a week for ten hours at a time. So we both liked a little manual labor and I was hoping that this year he wouldn’t hit me in the head with a log like he did last year, which he claimed was an accident.

Just as I was there when Mike needed help chopping wood, he was always there, unconditionally, when any of us needed it. I don’t think being generous at times like these is as difficult as doing so day in and day out.

Mike did it every day. It was the content of his character.

It is sad that our deepest reflection and introspection for a person occurs at a time like this. Perhaps we should learn from this and do a better job now and tomorrow with our family and friends.

Tuesday’s tragedy has drawn important distinctions in our lives. Love over indifference…others before ourselves…justice instead of vengeance. We should not and will not half die with Mike’s death. Let us fulfill his wishes, and let us resolve to live life with a passion for kindness, for generosity…and for freedom.

Vaya con dios, Mike. Go with God, my friend.

John Massingale, spoken at Michael's memorial service on September 23, 2001.

 

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