I grew up in the quaint New England town of Wilton, CT, a 45-minute drive from Manhattan. This conservative, sleepy town is known for its incredible school system, competitive sports and respectful community: kids are enrolled in Boy and Girl Scouts, families go to church on Sunday and then to the local diners, kids get bored on weekends and the man-made swimming hole is packed next to the busy soccer fields in the summer.
It is also a town on the major commuter rail into NYC, and many parents make the daily commute. Which is how our dreamy little town lost four of its members on September 11th.
On that day in 2001 I was a hundred miles further north at the University of Connecticut. Not being able to donate blood due to an illness but wanting to do something to help, my roommates and I volunteered at the Red Cross, primarily organizing names of those who had called in to report loved ones of theirs that were missing.
Several names came into my possession from my hometown. It was only several weeks later, at a memorial in the football stadium of my youth, packed with so many familiar faces, that I found out who we had lost.
I still go home weekly to visit my parents and help work the family business. More so now than in my youth do I appreciate the beauty of our town, especially in contrast to my life in the city. People are a bit friendlier the air is much clearer, you can see thousands of stars at night, and the picturesque town square still shows children in uniforms between school and games, mothers marketing frantically, families out to eat at the all-locally-run restaurants. It’s a good town.
So for my final tribute this week to Project 2,996, I’d like to offer a tribute to the four men who we lost on September 11th, 2001: Edward T. Fergus Jr., Peter Christian Fry, John Iskyan and Edward P. York.
Edward T. Fergus Jr
It only seems appropriate that the photo honoring Edward Fergus shows him by the water – he would spend Saturday mornings helping to fix his parents’ boat and then the afternoons on Long Island Sound, fishing with his two children, Tom and Shannon.
Edward worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, the firm who lost one third of their international work force when 658 of their employees perished, having worked on the 101st-105th floors of One World Trade Center, the floors above which the first plane made contact.
His energy on the floor translated well into his family social life, and he was known for rousing his siblings and their children to Connecticut for the annual Oyster Festival in South Norwalk, or to have picnics on their boat, or to go skiing in Vermont in the winter. He also dedicated himself to helping others through volunteer work, and attended church weekly.
He was survived by his wife, Linda, their children Tom and Shannon, who were 10 and 11 years old at the time of his passing, and a score of siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, most of whom live in the tri-state area.
Peter Christian Fry was 36 years old and had two children when he went to work at Euro Brokers Incorporated, the global securities firm of which he was Vice President of Institutional Money Markets at 2 World Trade Center.
Peter was an avid athlete, having played lacrosse in both college (he was an All American lacrosse player at Curry College in Massachusetts) and in the Fairfield County Lacrosse League.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to find too much on Peter. I know that he went to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, the largest one in our town with a lovely community that I am sure took care of his wife and family after his death. His extended family still lives in the New York / Connecticut area. And I did find this lovely note, one of many on 9-11 Victim Memorials, from a cousin of his:
I would like to tell you something that happened to me in while at Bagram AB, Afghanistan. I came across an American Flag in a case that had names written on it. One name popped out to me and it was Peter’s name and I realized it was a Flag with all the 911 victims on it. I have deployed many times to Iraq and Afghanistan and I always go to the flag and look for Peter’s name and remember why I’m there.
A Salute to you Peter and your Family.
Don DeBord TSgt. USAF
The family set up a college fund for Peter’s two daughters. Donations can be sent to Fry CollegeBoundFund, Attn: Joseph Miller III, c/o The New Canaan Group, 100 First Stamford Place 4th Floor West, Stamford, CT 06902.
John Iskyan, 41, had been working at One World Trade Center for 19 years, straight out of college, and evidently he hated the building. Back in 1993, he had taken over an hour and a half to vacate the building from its bombing, helping others escape before he finally left. But he loved the company, Cantor Fitzgerald, for which he had worked his way up to being a partner. And so he rose at 5am on September 11th, 2001, and took the early commuter train from Wilton so as to be at his desk by 7am, as he had done for 19 years.
Later that afternoon, John died of smoke inhalation.
Somehow he did made it out of the building, so his family was one of few to have a full funeral ceremony for him at Our Lady of Fatima Church. They were able to sing to him, to shower his body with love and tears and sweet memories.
John was an avid athlete, enjoying lacrosse and football and skiing. His brother joked that John was such a loyal Giants fan that he’d let his brother buy him tickets every year. He was still much in love with his wife, Margaret, so much so that he threw her a surprise birthday party the week before at the Old Town Hall, complete with family, friends, a lot of food and music. His two children, Peter, 12 and Carolynn, 9, had kept the secret the entire year he planned.
John was known for being a hard worker, easily pulling 12 hour days for his firm. A Long Island native, he grew up with the kind of suburban, playful childhood that he provided for his own children.
Unfortunately I could not find a picture of Edward York, 45. In a time where the internet runs wild with images and remembrances, it comes as a bit of a shock. But also a bit of a relief – what is personal to the people who knew him remains personal to them. He was their friend, their family, their father and husband, and it is their wishes that should be honored in remembering Ed.
But what I did find was this:
“Ed hosted new employee orientation sessions that featured a dozen or so presenters to groups of about 30 associates and his introductions stopped just short of claiming each presenter could walk on water. Before one such session I asked Ed if he could “tone it down” a little and he promised he would. When my turn to speak came later in the day, Ed simply said “Our next speaker is a man who needs no introduction.” Sheepishly I walked to the podium, but when I arrived the entire group rose, wildly cheering, whistling and applauding. In the back of the room was a broadly smiling Ed, who had put them up to the whole thing beforehand! It was the best practical joke anyone had ever played on me and typical of his sense of humor.”
Greg Pierce, Sandy Hook, Connecticut
I never met Ed, but I worked a block away from the WTC, and after 9/11, found his business card outside my office. I framed it with other cards I found there, and after research, found that he had died. His card remains framed, on my desk, as a daily reminder of how precious life is, and that we have to keep our priorities straight. I hope your family has found peace.Ellen Sundheimer, Middle Island, New York
This tribute was written as part of Project 2996. I picked the first six names on the list who had not been written yet, and am posting one every day in the week leading up to September 11th, 2011. To read my initial post on this organization and to donate to The Feel Good Foundation, an advocacy group for first responders affected by serving on September 11th, please CLICK HERE.