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Whether it was clearing out his mother-in-law's garage to helping a neighbor haul a big-screen television into his home or assisting one of six siblings with a home repair job, Edward Strauss was always there to lend a hand.
The 44-year-old operations chief for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was described by family members as a gentle giant who shared generously his time and talents with friends, family and colleagues rarely asking for anything in return.
The Edison resident was last seen grabbing a bullhorn and running to help evacuate the World Trade Center buildings after two hijacked plants slammed into the two towers on Sept. 11.
"When we heard what happened to the buildings, we knew he was in there," recalled his sister, Theresa Strauss Wood, who lives in Iselin. "From the time he was young, he was taking care of people. That's probably the way he died."
Mr. Strauss joined the Port Authority at 17, working inside the Lincoln Tunnel in a glass booth ready to come to aid of motorists if their vehicle broke down, his father, Edward, said. He rose to his job as operations chief after 24 years spending time at four of the facilities run by the authority, according to his wife, Jane, who met him while working as a toll collector at the tunnel.
"He was a very giving person," she said. "Anybody who needed him, he was there -- at work, at home, anywhere,"
An avid Giants fan and reader of science fiction and military history, Mr. Strauss, who was born in Iselin, was looking forward to enjoying the new family room in his Edison home, which was equipped with a state-of-the-art stereo surround system. "He loved music: from classic to Zydeco and everything in between."
After the first plane hit, Mr. Strauss called his wife and told her he gotten out of his basement office, but advised her he would be busy the rest of the day.
"There's comfort in knowing he was doing what he loved," his sister, Theresa Wood, said. "A big reason why 25,000 people got out of those towers was because of dedicated Port Authority people like Ed."
Besides his wife and sister, Mr. Strauss is survived by his two sons, Justin, 25, and Edward, 12, his parents, Edward and Virginia Strauss of Plano, Texas; three other sisters, Barbara Eicholtz of Colonia, Gia Strauss Teeple of Iselin, and Veronica Strauss Johnson of Plano, Texas; and two brothers, Jay Strauss of Woodbridge and Vincent Strauss of Iselin.
Profile by Tom Johnson published in THE STAR-LEDGER