LIVES OF THE SAINTS
By Michael Conniff
Copyright © 2020
All Rights Reserved
Wendy K. Marks
Yankee Doodle Sweetheart
Former pom-pom girl Wendy Marks, 44, was a Yankee Doodle Sweetheart literally born on the Fourth of July, the homecoming queen for an all-boys high school in Winnetka, Illinois, where she grew up. She worked as a sous-chef at Windows on the World with plans to one day open her own restaurant in SOHO or Tribeca. The aspiring chef had not been home to Winnetka in nearly twenty years.
Ms. Marks and her close friend Missy Magill shared the same Independence Day birthday, and they always had strawberry shortcake at Windows on the World to celebrate, with the desert prepared by Ms. Marks based on her own recipe. On the Fourth of July before the attack, however, Ms. Magill was in Memphis, Tennessee, on a business trip, and Ms. Marks was alone with the strawberry shortcake of her own making. She carefully cut off and wrapped up a thin slice for Ms. Magill, according to co-workers, and then the former homecoming queen gorged on the remainder of the cake in a corner table after the restaurant had closed down for the night.
According to Ms. Magill, who spoke to her Yankee Doodle friend that night during a fireworks display in Memphis, Ms. Marks felt as lonely as she had ever been.
Tony T. Nacchio
Sweet Dream Of A Husband
Mr. Nacchio, 51, a regional sales representative, never returned from an appointment in the South Tower to discuss a new automated ordering system with an important international client. Though still listed as missing, a memorial service in his honor was held October 2, 20001, in Suffern, New York, where he lived with his wife Melody Knowles Nacchio; their son Alan, 9; and their daughter Natalie, 6.
“He just seemed genuine,” Mrs. Nacchio said of her husband at the service. “I could trust him. I just felt comfortable.” In an interview, she described him as “a sweet, sweet dream of a husband.”
Mr. Nacchio was close to his children, according to Mrs. Nacchio. He taught his son to tackle by using his shoulder instead of his head and by wrapping both arms around the runner’s legs. His daughter used to stand next to him on a stool singing the Sesame Street theme song with increasing skill while he shaved before work.
“We never fought,” Mrs. Nacchio said of her late husband. “It was total teamwork.”
Nonetheless, an attorney hired by Mrs. Nacchio found that Mr. Nacchio was funneling upwards of 35 percent of his earnings and all ancillary income into an account Mrs. Nacchio knew nothing about. That account, in the low six figures spread across a range of no-load mutual funds, has been frozen indefinitely until he is officially declared dead.
Host Of Patio Parties
The new and expansive home near the Navesink River in Red Bank, New Jersey, became Frank Searcy’s way of sharing the wealth he had created at Upham Frederick Juong, a hedge fund on the 101st floor of the North Tower. His friends in particular remember barbecues, tree-trimming parties, and the luau with the hip-hugging hula dancer on Labor Day.
“His was a place where everyone went,” said one neighbor, “to take a swim, watch a game, and hang out on the patio.”
Without his knowledge, according to close friends of the family, his wife Abby Searcy, a certified public accountant who works out of their home, took a home pregnancy test (HPT) that proved positive. One week after Mr. Searcy’s heroic death in the stairwell, her obstetrician told Mrs. Searcy that she was in fact going to have her first child after years of trying without success to conceive. Mrs. Searcy’s pregnancy came as a result of unprotected sex with an express courier in response to her husband’s many infidelities with hedge fund support personnel.
“God is giving me something,” she said on the patio of her Red Bank home, “because He took something away.”
Douglas F. O’Brien
Fatherhood On A New Level
Doug O’Brien, 45, made sure his wife and son came by the fire station in the morning before the first plane crashed and their lives changed forever.
“If you are a good boy,” he said to his son Matthew Mark, 6, “when I get home I will get you a prize.”
Cathy O’Brien found the Toto intended for her son in a foot locker at the station house after the hook-and-ladder memorial service for her husband. She said the gift was to tacitly acknowledge what Mrs. O’Brien conceded was a pattern of improper touching of their son that her husband would regret—in group therapy, in Confession, and in private—until the day he died. Her son, according to Mrs. O’Brien, looks out the window every day “to see if he could see heaven, because then maybe he’d be able to see my husband.”
Ichiro I. Takahisa
On Weekends: At Home
Those who knew Ichiro Takahisa say he practically lived at work for the Mahi Clearinghouse on the 9th floor of the North Tower. His dedication to the back office job was so total that he was the only person from Mahi not to evacuate safely when the first jet struck the building that morning.
“He worked so hard,” said his wife Mickey. “But he spent the weekends with us.”
Mr. Takahisa’s wife and teenage daughter intend to return to Tokyo, Japan, to the second home the Takahisas maintained in a country setting within easy reach of the city by bullet train. Mrs. Takahisa said she never used to wait up for her husband in any event.
Charles L. Langone
A Quirky Perfectionist
His friends remember Charles Langone, director of public television transmission on the 110th Floor of the North Tower, as a man who counted out the number of nails he would need to replace the roof of his home directly across the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey.
“He just had something you can’t learn,” said one of his second cousins.
Mr. Langone was also known to put on a pair of gloves so as to do 500 pushups in his business suit every day before he left work.
“It was a good sign to see him put on his gloves,” said one of his subordinates. “That meant it was time to go.”
Hooked On Books
“My son didn’t take any drugs,” said Maria Soledad, Hector Soledad’s mother. “He had no bad habits. His thing was reading. For Christmas, I would get him a $200 gift certificate to Borders and he would buy books.”
Blockbusters were his life: according to associates at the security firm where he worked, Mr. Soledad 27, lived for the latest releases of Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, Jimmy Buffet, Stephen King, and other bestselling authors, all of whom he insisted on reading in hardcover. Mr. Soledad used to joke that he still lived at home with his mother so he could afford to buy the books. He was a member of the Barnes & Noble Advantage Club and he liked to calculate how much he saved off the retail price of each blockbuster to the penny.
“He had so much intelligence,” said his brother Arturo Soledad, “he didn’t need to show it.”
Mr. Soledad’s reading also included an extensive collection of pornography found by police in locked trunks beneath his bed. Friends at the security firm confirmed he was particularly fond of much older women.
A Lifelong New Yorker
Glenn Totten loved to go to museums with his girlfriend, Gong-Ning Ning, a wholesale wine merchant. He loved baseball and art—the New York Mets and the Met.
“It was hard to drag him out to the country to see Mom and Dad,” said his mother at the memorial service, “because there was always so much in the city that interested him…. [But if] he went to an old monastery, he would walk in and he already knew what to look for, or he recognized the old masters on the walls.”
Mr. Totten, a re-insurance executive, liked to sit on the roof of his apartment building drinking large goblets of red wine and admiring the view south all the way to the World Trade Center, where he worked in the North Tower. According to Ms. Ning, Mr. Totten never went to bed until he had finished a six-pack of lite beer or the equivalent in wine when available. She considered him a functioning alcoholic in complete denial because he never drank before noon, not even on weekends.
A Taste For Adventure
Sukie Moboko liked to show friends the sweeping views from her office 88 stories above Wall Street. An immigrant from Botswana who came to the United States two decades ago as an English-speaking teen, she was a diplomatic attaché whose social circle become synonymous with growing opportunities for her compatriots from the African country who live in New York.
At the parties in her Battery Park apartment, according to neighbors, Ms. Moboko became the hostess for increasingly orgiastic gatherings notable for protected sex, racial exclusivity, and a language all their own. With her friends at these private gatherings, she spoke in a kind of pidgin English with the signature greeting: “How Now!”
Friends said Ms. Moboko, 34, always had a taste for adventure as evidenced by her many trips around the world. A Bible found open on her bed after the attacks was turned to Psalm 91: “With His wings He will cover you and beneath His wings he will find refuge. His truth is a shield, a full shield./ You will not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day.”
Nicholas B. Scholes
A Self-Taught Man
“Make this a sweet story,” said the father of Nicholas Scholes, still missing in the wake of the September 11 attacks, “about one little kernel of a human being whose life will be sorely missed.”
Mr. Scholes, 26, had passed up opportunities to work at established Wall Street firms in order to seek his fortune at eTime, a Web-based time management software startup. He was a self-taught programmer who had also taught himself to speak Italian, Spanish, and to play the alto saxophone in the be-bop manner of his idol, Charlie “Bird” Parker.
“He was bright beyond his years,” his father said. “He had a charming smile and a quick wit. People flocked to him.”
Called “Nick” by his friends, Mr. Scholes was considered by his peers at work to be a flighty dilettante until the founder of eTime ordered psychological testing that produced a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADD). Friends at work say they made a point from that point forward of reminding “Nick” to take his medication and to keep his Palm Pilot synchronized.
An Easygoing Best Friend
Tom Azzi, 37, was an account executive on the rise for Intermediary Technologies, a back office middleware firm focused on the financial services industry. He worked on the 102nd floor of the South Tower and liked to tell his friends on a daily basis what the weather was like “up there.” On the morning of the attacks he leaped to his death, a flight captured in mid-fall but never shown on television.
“He never said a bad word about anyone,” said his sister. “Even if he didn’t like someone, he wouldn’t say a bad word.”
Mr. Azzi grew up in Forest Hills but moved in July with his new wife, Jean Lucido, to an apartment in Fort Lee with an unobstructed view of the Hudson River. Handsome, smart, and unassuming, he had been engaged three times before: his formerly betrothed were uniformly critical of his ability to walk away with impunity from what seemed to be permanent relationships.
Romance In An Odd Place
As a lawyer, Alison Semple’s specialty was international risk management. She had returned to her old job with Scion Risk on the 34th Floor of the North Tower September 1 because of an opportunity to focus her practice on the Middle East.
Ms. Semple, 43, was married for nearly six years to Adam Rezendes, 36, an estates attorney who had always wanted children. She had a condition whereby coitus caused extreme pain and lingering inflammation, something her love of the law and coital abstention had long shielded her from. With the help of over-the-counter lubricants, according to Mr. Rezendes, he and Ms. Semple had faithfully attempted intercourse at the least painful moment in her cycle but ultimately yielded to the promise of a fertility clinic connected to St. Luke’s Hospital in New York. Their efforts in vitro resulted in a child, Samantha, now six months old.
“She cries: ‘Mommy, Mommy,’” Mr. Rezendes said of his baby daughter. “What am I supposed to say?”