Following 9/11 the New York Times ran Portraits of Grief profiling many of those lost in the 9/11 attacks. We can’t capture the magnitude of the loss, or the meaning of who and what we lost, but the Times’s focus on individuals made a contribution. Taking just one small slice, I want to retrieve from the series the Times’s portraits of Dartmouth alumni who lost their lives on 9/11. With the death of each of these men, a world was lost. We remember:
Juan Cisneros never intended to spend the rest of his life in New York. He would work as a bond trader until he could pay off his college loans and put away money for his parents. Then, said his girlfriend, Stephanie Albert, they planned to move out West. They would go to graduate school and become professors. He would teach history, she would teach English.
Mr. Cisneros, 24, who lived in Manhattan, was gentle and patient. He loved running and reading. “You’re going to do what?” Ms. Albert asked him, incredulous, when he told her he was taking a job at Cantor Fitzgerald. His parents had immigrated from Guatemala when he was 6. He went to Dartmouth College, volunteered as a Big Brother and fell in love with Ms. Albert.
One Saturday afternoon two months ago, they found themselves in New Jersey, having offered to help a friend set up for her husband’s 40th birthday party. Alone in a room with a view of Manhattan, they began dancing. They were joking, teasing, making grand plans for how they would celebrate each other’s 40th when the time came.
“Thrilled with the present, excited about the future,” Ms. Albert remembered sadly. “And it absolutely takes my breath away that we won’t even be able to spend our 25th birthdays together.”
One phrase in a book on grieving that someone gave her after her husband, Christopher Colasanti, was killed in the World Trade Center attack has stayed with Kelly Colasanti: “The best way to know God is to love many things.”
Kelly and her two daughters went to Liberty State Park, where a memorial wall has been set up for victims, and she wrote, “Chris loved many things. We love you. We miss you. You’re with us.”
It is a small tribute to the love of her life, to the end of what friends and neighbors often cited as the perfect family. Here are some of the moments and familiar details that stick in her mind: Christopher grew up in South Orange, N.J. and met Kelly in high school. They went to the prom together. He graduated from Dartmouth and became a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. The young family lived in Hoboken. The night before the attack, Mr. Colasanti gave their girls, Cara and Lauren, their baths. Then he showed Cara his baseball card collection. “We’ll be a strong family, the three of us,” Kelly said. “We have to live this way because he was so great. We can’t let it not be great here because it was so great.”
Whether it was climbing a mountain, playing charades or challenging his four brothers and his sister to a game of Monopoly, Kevin Connors would not be defeated. At work, there was the thrill of picking the next big investment for clients of Euro Brokers, where he was a vice president. At home, the simplest of family gatherings became thrill-seeking adventures. Children would be pitted against adults, and Mr. Connors, 55, would side with the team he thought had the best chance of winning.
“My brother was a voracious fan of winning at all things,” said Sheila Connors LeDuc. “He once bought a boat to sail around the world. When it sank off the coast of South America, he beat the ocean by not drowning.”
And when planes struck the World Trade Center, Mrs. LeDuc was certain that her brother would survive once more. Slowly, she has had to accept another probability. “This was bigger than the boat going down,” she said. “I just hope he is at peace and that those of us who mourn him can come to the same peace.”
The ladies behind the counter at a bakery in Summit, N.J. used to look forward to Saturday mornings when Kevin R. Crotty would show up with his three children. With wild candy-store looks in their eyes, Megan, 7, Kyle, 5, and Sean, 2, would load up on cookies and chocolate and glazed doughnuts and doughnut holes.
But it has been more than a month since Mr. Crotty took his children to the bakery. Mr. Crotty, 43, worked as a bond trader at Sandler O’Neill & Partners on the 104th floor of 2 World Trade Center. Besides the bakery, he could be seen taking the children to soccer practice and dance lessons.
“I’ve been very open with them about it,” said his widow, Lori Crotty. “The more I talk about it, the more comfortable they are. Sean is having a hard time, but it’s going to take time.”
Every weekday, Joseph Walkden Flounders arose at 3:30 a.m. at his home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He drove to Harrison, N.J., then took a train so he could be at his desk by 8:30 a.m. on the 84th floor of 2 World Trade Center, where he was a money-market broker at Euro Brokers.
“The house was his sanctuary,” said his wife of 21 years, Patricia. They had slaved away, renovating it ever since they moved there three years ago from Brooklyn Heights, after her health problems spurred him “to find a better quality of life for both of us,” she said. “We’d been working on the house three years, and three days before he died, we finished it.”
The memorial service for Mr. Flounders, 46, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Church in Manhattan, where he had worshiped, his wife said. “The reception will follow at Fraunces Tavern, because they, too, were once bombed, and we thought it would be appropriate to have it there, since they suffered, as well.”
See them there, those five adult children at the Dave Matthews Band concert? The ones huddled together, mortified? And note that blissful, aging teenager next to them, about 55 actually, in khaki pants and Docksiders, blue eyes blazing as he jumps up and down, bellowing his request: “`Proudest Monkey’! `Proudest Monkey’!”
By day, Jeff LeVeen of Plandome, N.Y., was a chieftain in the financial world, a partner at Cantor Fitzgerald, an Ivy Leaguer and the owner of two well-appointed homes and a golf handicap of 3. By night, he was a rock groupie who attended nearly a dozen Dave Matthews concerts a year.
You allowed a father like that his nuttiness. He plunked down and listened to Phish because one son asked him to. He negotiated with his wife, Christine, about discipline, pleading for leniency. He swept up his bucketful of kids to take them fishing, clothes shopping, to N.B.A. games.
He kept his privileged background and considerable achievements to himself, but boasted like crazy about the children. A happy man with a year-round tan, he would sing, “Now I am the proudest monkey you’ve ever seen!”
The head of the sunfish was attached to one side of the hook. The other side of the lure was embedded in Thomas Theurkauf Jr.’s hand. His son Henry, 9, frantically rowed the boat to shore, making a few erratic circles. Mr. Theurkauf waved his hand wildly, trying to shake the fish and hook from his hand.
Mr. Theurkauf’s wife, Robin, severed the fish head and rushed him to the hospital. “They successfully treated Tom,” his brother Bill said at a recent memorial service. “The fish didn’t make it.”
But, oh, how Mr. Theurkauf loved to tell that tale of the one that would not go away.
As an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, which had offices on the 89th floor of 2 World Trade Center, Mr. Theurkauf gave countless television and newspaper interviews. This year The Wall Street Journal named him the top banking analyst in the country. But his family and friends remember the less serious side. “He loved to make his friends and family laugh,” Bill Theurkauf said. “And was more than willing to laugh at himself.”
First posted 9/11/2006.
UPDATE 9/11/2011: Courtesy of a reminder from Joe Asch ’79 and the reporting of Charles Gardner and the staff of the Daily Dartmouth, we also remember:
Richard Herron Woodwell ‘79 was destined for business success from an early age. As a sixth grader growing up in the Pennsylvania town of Ligonier, Woodwell — who was an avid coin collector — would often trade coins with the elderly owner of a local jewelry shop.
For Woodwell, known to his friends as “Woody,” a childhood hobby would eventually lead to a lifelong career in investment banking, in which he worked as an equities trader for the New York firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Woodwell, who served as Senior Vice President in the company’s trading department, was stationed on the 89th floor of World Trade Center Tower Two when the second hijacked jet struck the building.
He embarked on his career in investment banking immediately following graduation, initially working as a floor broker for Dean Witter at the Pacific Options Exchange in San Francisco. He married his wife Linda Preston in 1988, and soon afterward moved to Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J. Friends and family members remember a man devoted to his job and family in equal measure.
“He was dedicated to his work but not wrapped up in it,” wife Linda Woodwell said, telling how Woody coached soccer teams for two of their three young children, and often took the family on skiing vacations, in addition to spending summers on Cape Cod at their family’s house in Hyannisport.
While at Dartmouth, Woodwell excelled academically and was widely admired by his classmates. According to ’79 class president William Mitchell, Woody’s popularity was due to his adventurous and confident nature, and his sheer enthusiasm for life and friends.
Late one night at Dartmouth Woodwell was asked to make a run to the William Tally House, a 24-hour eating establishment located at the bus station in White River Junction. Such “Tally Rallies,” as they were known, were not uncommon, though Woody added the novel twist of driving clothed only in boxer shorts.
After skillfully explaining his predicament to police during a pullover on the interstate, Woodwell arrived at the Tally House only to be stopped by a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy. Undeterred, he donned a girl’s sweater conveniently found in the back of his car, placed two golf club covers on his feet, and successfully reentered the store.
“It obviously took a tremendous amount of casual confidence, and that’s why he was beloved by his classmates,” Mitchell said.
Woodwell remained a loyal alumnus of the College after graduation, visiting campus as recently as 1999, when he and his family returned to Dartmouth for his 20th reunion.
“He loved Dartmouth and the people he met there,” Saer said. “There was always a special place in his heart for Hanover and especially the people he came across.”
He was also dedicated to his preparatory school, Avon Old Farms, at which his wife Linda has established a scholarship fund in his name. “I would say he was one of our most outstanding alumni,” said Susan Evans of the Avon alumni office. “He was the glue for his class.”
Evans’ husband, Peter, delivered the eulogy at Woody’s memorial service last month.
Over 400 people attended the service, held Sept. 22 in Saddle River, N.J., including nearly 50 alumni from his Dartmouth class.
“It was just unbelievable coming back from his memorial service … it filled the entire church,” J.K. Woodwell said. “He had a network of friends from all over the country.”
John Saer summed up Woody’s attitude towards life. “I think of him as a friend in the truest sense of the word, as someone who is always there for you and who is eternally optimistic. His love of life made him someone who affected a lot of people very positively.”
“He was a terrific person: kind, gentle and so giving,” his wife Linda said. “He was easygoing, happy and just loved life … it’s too hard to think that he’s no longer here.”
Woodwell is survived by his wife, Linda, and his three young children, Richard Jr., 11; Margaret, 8; and Eleanor, 4; as well as his brother J.K. Woodwell III and sister Pamela Woodwell Geerdes.