Family's grief still burns, but Jupiter beckons
By Randall Murray Staff Writer
November 6, 2002
Paul Gill, a 34-year-old New York City firefighter
killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,
drew this picture, which his father,
John, calls "Tree Avenue."
John's wife, Georgette, is trying to
publish a book celebrating the artistic talents
of many of those killed in the terror attacks.
The Gills are planning to move to Jupiter next year.
When Georgette Gill went to her mailbox in Queens, N.Y., Tuesday afternoon, she was depressed. Off for the day from her job as a legal secretary in New York City, Georgette had a lot of time to think about the death of her stepson, New York City firefighter Paul Gill, on Sept. 11, 2001.
Then her day brightened.
"I'm so excited," Gill told The Jupiter Courier late Tuesday afternoon. "I got a letter from Bill Clinton, and he actually read my letter. I'm so excited!"
Georgette is married to John Gill, a project director in the construction business in Manhattan, who is Paul's father.
The letter she sent to Clinton asked for his support in her efforts to publish a book telling the stories of all the people with artistic talents who were among the nearly 3,000 lost in the terror attacks on the twin towers. She had not had much luck finding someone who would lend some prestige or clout or public support to her quest for publication.
But Clinton's letter, while not a firm commitment, gave Georgette a reason to smile on a gray day in the Big Apple.
They still actively mourn the death of Paul, a 34-year-old father of two, who died trying to rescue people from the Marriott Hotel attached to the World Trade Center. Paul's remains were not found. But the Gills also actively celebrate the life of the young man who brought so many talents to life including his art.
The Courier wrote in September about the Gills and their plans to move to Jupiter, a place they have come to know and love through visits with friends in Tequesta over the past 12 years. This is an update.
Georgette and John cling to the art works Paul produced during his life. "Paul never named them, but John called the one 'Tree Avenue,'" she said.
Paul never took an art lesson, his stepmother recalls. "But his wife showed him the pontillistic style, and he picked it up in a week."
Paul also developed his artistic skills designing tattoos for friends and coworkers. He also wrote poetry, some of which can be found on the Web site Georgette maintains in memory of her stepson. That site, www.angelfire.com/ny5/paulgill, is a work in progress. It's not static; it's always being changed, updated.
John's mother, Ruby, recently wrote a touching piece for the site called "A Grandmother's Heart."
The New York Times published a book of its critically acclaimed series "Portraits of Grief" profiles of people who died in the horrors of 9/11. And Georgette was touched to read of so many people with artistic talents, she determined to write a book about them.
"There were artists and chefs, a firefighter who made gingerbread villages and a bond trader who did needlepoint," Georgette explained this week. She'll call her book "Shine On: The Legacy of 9/11."
But her search for support drew lukewarm response at best ... until the former president's letter. In it he wrote, "I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of your stepson Paul. ... I will pass your letter along to the families of the Freedom Foundation, which I am chairing with Sen. Bob Dole. Hillary and I send our best to your and your family."
That brought sunshine to a day in which Georgette said, "I was watching the news, and something reminded me of Paul, and I just lost it."
The Gills gradually are surfacing from the suffocation of the loss of the young man with the quirky smile and quick wit. Their plans to leave New York are a magnet. But things are not going as originally designed.
Construction of their home in the Tuscany community of Abacoa has been delayed for several months. "I don't know why, but we were planning on being in by the end of the year, but now we're being told May or June." She and John are disappointed, but resigned to waiting.
They're also unhappy with the failure of their summer home in the Pocono Mountains to sell. "We'll drop the price ... again," Georgette said.
Close friends from the Poconos community already have moved to Jupiter. Scott and Esther Margolis are living in a rental home locally while their Abacoa house is being built. They send periodic progress reports back to Queens. The lot has been cleared, they've been told, and the streets are being installed.
"We'll just keep plugging along," said Georgette. "But we just cannot wait to get there ... to live in Jupiter."