Billy Dean called his mom every day, just to tell her what was going on. 'Which couldn't have been much, because he had just spoken to her the day before,' noted his sister Donna Dean. 'He did it because he knew how much it meant to her.'
He would also place a separate call each day to his father, just so dad would not feel left out. They would discuss home improvements, gardening, the stock market. 'If you ever saw Billy's front lawn or looked at the condition of his stock portfolio,' said Donna Dean. 'You'd realize it was often the blind leading the blind.'
Mr. Dean, 35, was a lifelong New Yorker, a survivor of a Hell's Kitchen childhood, a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and then the College of Insurance, which eventually opened the door to a career at Marsh & McLennan, where he was a vice president in claims casualty. Yet when he and his wife, Tricia, moved to Floral Park, on Long Island, six years ago, Mr. Dean became an instant surburbanite, taking up gardening and installing sheet rock in a bedroom they had added on.
Tricia Dean talked of her husband's athleticism — he had completed one New York City Marathon and two triathalons on Long Island — as well as his greatest chagrin: his shock of red hair. Growing up, he disdained red clothing lest it clash with his curls; as an adult he opted for a Marine-style cut. Yet for those who adored those locks and their bearer, their legacy will endure on his 3- year-old son, Matthew, and perhaps even his baby daughter, Claire Anne, who was born on Dec. 18.
'All of his achievements were a quiet daily pursuit, one that he never confused with financial prosperity or possessions,' said his sister Donna. 'He was successful because he loved us all — every day, little by little, gesture by gesture, word by word.'