The Raus and the Paolozzis, two families from the southwest section of this city, were the best of friends.

They met about five years ago when the Paolozzis moved in next door to the Raus in a neighborhood of large, older homes, and they hit it off immediately.

"The two families moved back and forth all the time," the Rev. Norman Rotert, a friend of the couples, recalled. "You'd drive by and the Raus would be in the Paolozzis' front porch. They even had a step built by the wall that separates their houses so they could go back and forth without going in the street.

"That's why they died together. They were celebrating together."

Dr. Jerold Rau, 42, a dermatologist, and James M. Paolozzi, 39, an executive with a communications firm, died Friday night in the thunderous collapse of tons of concrete and steel that showered down upon them in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel here.

They had just arrived at the hotel and were waiting patiently in line near the bar to purchase drinks. Their wives, Jacqueline Rau and Angela Paolozzi, were a few feet away, and lived.

Across the city today, they began to bury the victims of what the Kansas City Star called "the Hyatt horror" and, as individuals and a community, to come to terms with its terrible aftermath. The city plans to hold a memorial service later in the week. First, though, there were dozens of primate services, and private griefs, to deal with.

The magnitude of the tragedy, the deadliest in Kansas City history, was compounded by the suddenness with which it occurred, the randomness that determined who lived and who died, and the bitter contrast of the blood and screams that filled the hotel with the scene that preceded it.

There was no warning to the victims before the two massive steel and concrete walks that spanned the 60-yard lobby buckled, ripped loose from the steel rods that supported them and crashed to the floor. It was over in a matter of seconds.

Since there was no time to move, whether you lived or died depended on where you were at that instant. There were 1,500 people in the lobby at the time -- 111 who would die and 186 who would be injured. Jerold Rau died, but Jacqueline Rau escaped. There were other caes like that.

But if you were in the lobby at all it was probably because you enjoyed an older gentler music like "Satin Doll," the classic jazz composition by Duke Ellington that the orchestra was playing at 7:05 last Friday night.

"They loved to dance." That was said over and over again about so many of the victims. The tragedy struck during the regular Friday night "tea dance" contest, and when it was over the lives of some 15 married couples had been wiped out.

Music and friendship brought them to the Hyatt that night, as it did the Raus and the Paolozzis. They were different in many ways -- the Raus, for example, were childless while the Paolozzis had five children -- but they shared other interests.

One of those interests was their church, St. Peter's Catholic Church, where both couples were active. They had gone to the Hyatt with a mutual friend, Sister Camilla Verret, who is in charge of the music program at the church, to have dinner and celebrate the nun's birthday.

Today at St. Peter's, caskets bearing the bodies of Jerold Rau and James Paolozzi were placed side by side during a funeral mass for the two men. Sister Camilla sang during the service.