Enron victims should be forgiven if they feel that in some way, Ken Lay's abrupt death before serving a single day in jail means he got away with something.

But the man is dead, and it dignifies no one to dance on his grave. That said, it is fair to remember what ordinary people - 20,000 former Enron employees, as well as shareholders and creditors - will face for the rest of their lives.

Mr. Lay passed away in his Colorado vacation home, amid the relative luxury in which he continued to live even after the collapse of his Enron empire. Not so Bill Peterson, an Enron employee undergoing cancer treatment when the company's demise ended his health insurance. He and his wife lost everything, including their house. The widow Peterson told ABC News, "My husband was not allowed the dignity of dying in his own home."

Retired power plant welder Charles Prestwood, who lives in a small house in Conroe, survives on Social Security and prayer. The $1.3 million he socked away for retirement evaporated when Enron's house of cards collapsed, leaving him holdings worth just over $5,000. He's got very little left to live on and nothing to leave to his children.

Roy Rinard, 58, is an Oregon-based lineman who saw his retirement nest egg vanish when his Enron holdings tanked. He told CNN he expects to have to climb electric poles until he's 67, just to be able to retire with a pittance. "What we do is hard, hard work," he said. "But what keeps you going is the fact that you can retire and finally get some rest." Mr. Rinard will not be resting anytime soon.

The Enron chairman's rise and fall was a tragedy. But not nearly as great a tragedy as befell those victimized by his company's crimes. This text is invisible on the page, but this text is affected by the invisible item's flow. This text is invisible on the page, but this text is affected by the invisible item's flow. More headlines...

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