Robert D. Young

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Robert D. Young, 29; a big laugh, a loving heart

To family and friends, he was Big Bob, the gentle giant.

After all, Robert D. Young, 29, of Taunton, stood 6 feet, 6 inches and had a perpetual smile.

For fun, he loved sports, and he loved music, especially heavy-metal "hair bands" like Poison, Guns N' Roses and Great White.

So it was no surprise when Bob and three friends attended Great White's show at The Station. The gang had gone to see Guns N' Roses last year at The Fleet Center. It was one of the best times they'd had together, says Nate Chadwick, a close friend and business partner.

They'd also driven down to New Orleans last year, to see the Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams, 20 to 17, in the Super Bowl.

A typical die-hard New England sports fan, Bob couldn't watch during the fateful field goal kick that sealed the Patriots' victory.

"He was bawling 'I can't look,' " Chadwick says. " 'I know he missed it.' "

But that was not the typical Bob, who was known more for his calmness and optimism, even when others were about to crack.

A 1991 graduate of Foxboro High School, Bob studied information systems at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. He met Chadwick in 1995, and the two hit it off, becoming best friends. Two years ago, they formed a computer consulting business, Chadwick and Young, with Bob designing operating systems and programs for the company's business customers.

Bob and Jennifer were married on Valentine's Day last year. They celebrated their first anniversary the weekend before the fire. Bob bought Jennifer a dozen red roses and they went to Cape Cod.

That kind of behavior was typical, says Josephine Young, Bob's paternal grandmother, who lives in Foxboro. He had a big laugh and a loving heart, she says.

"I loved him dearly. He was my darling. I'm sure that if he was in that fire he was probably trying to help people."

The friends who attended the show with Bob escaped through a side exit, said Chadwick, whose brother, Joe Lusardi, was among the four who attended. Chadwick said his brother told him that as the fire spread, Bob reacted with his typical calmness.

"One of the last things Bob said is 'just calm down. Remember Chicago, because that's how people get killed.' "

When Lusardi, John Kudryck and Gary Stein -- who was recently discharged from Brigham & Women's Hospital -- escaped, they turned and looked for Bob.

"They thought he was right behind them."

-- Randal Edgar


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