In a hushed and weary voice, Ernest C. Consolvo yesterday remembered his son Paul, a history buff from Virginia Beach who was one of eight Americans killed in the crash Saturday of a Guatemalan airliner.
The day was steeped in sadness, but the memories were sweet.
"He was a quiet type of person, but he was kind and gentle," said Consolvo, a Virginia Beach lawyer. "He was just a fine young man with an adventurous spirit. He wasn't ostentatious or showy, just a beautiful young man."
Consolvo said he was notified on Sunday morning by the State Department that his son Paul, 24, was one of the eight Americans believed to have died when an Aeorvias jetliner crashed in northern Guatemala, killing all 93 aboard.
Consolvo said his son apparently was traveling with Jeffrey Sage of Long Island, a former classmate from the University of Virginia. Sage also is believed to be among the dead.
Paul Consolvo, a history major at U-Va., was studying on a graduate scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin and aspired to be a reporter or editor, his father said. He had saved his money for a two-week vacation in Central America, including a trip to Guatemala to see the Mayan ruins at Tikal.
"He was very excited about going," said Ernest Consolvo. "In fact he'd planned it all year."
The jetliner crashed as it approached Santa Elena Airport, about 150 miles north of Guatemala City. Although the State Department has not yet made positive identifications of the American victims, Consolvo's passport and driver's license were recovered, his father said.
The younger Consolvo specialized in Middle Eastern history, read voraciously and was particularly fond of the books of historian Barbara Tuchman, according to Ernest Consolvo.
Ernest Consolvo said a verse from Robert Louis Stevenson's 1887 book of verse, "Underwoods," captured the essence of his son's death:
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be . . . . "
"That's the way we'd like to remember Paul," said his father, "because he was traveling and his death came when he was doing what he wanted to do."