Heroes n the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks,
I Americans have stepped up to show
their patriotism and courage. Members
of the Oswego family are no exception—
whether they are putting their lives on the line
to save others, moving forward with love and
generosity or giving the next generation a
lesson in heroism and hope. There are count-
less Oswego alumni among the new American
heroes. Here are a few of their stories.
19 OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001
Bob Bacon ’95 | FDNY, Engine 13
Bob Bacon Endured Hours on a WTC Landing
He had just reached the 26th
floor of World Trade Center
Tower One, 110 pounds of
strapped to his back. That’s
when Bob Bacon ’95 felt
the building shake violently.
Lights flickered on and
off. Something, he remembers
thinking, is very wrong.
hat Bacon didn’t know was that
W Tower Two had just collapsed.
At that point, he and a fellow firefight-
er were in an office area on the 26th floor.
They decided they should go back into the
stairwell, where they met up with other
men from their firehouse.
“We started heading down the stairs. It
was mostly firemen,” said Bacon, who was
a member of the Sigma Gamma fraternity
at SUNY Oswego.“We actually got into the
lobby and we were missing one of our
guys, so the lieutenant and I went back up-
stairs to look for him. We couldn’t find
him, so we figured we just missed him
going out. There was no one else coming
“We started heading back down and I
was basically on the third floor when all
hell broke loose in the stairwell,” Bacon re-
called. “The stairwell turned into a torna-
do. The wind and debris came up. It was
PHOTO BY JOE LAWTON
like being in a sandstorm.
“We thought it was a localized collapse
in the stairwell,” said Bacon, who dove
down to the half landing between floors
three and two.
Bob Bacon ’95 went back into the World Trade Center to look for a brother firefighter.
The landing then gave way, he started to
fall and was bounced around by the rapidly When he could open his eyes, it was to dent. After all, lots of small planes and
falling debris until he landed, hanging from complete darkness. helicopters can be seen over Manhattan on
a pipe about six feet above the half landing On his way to the scene of the terrorist any given day.
between the first and second floors. attack, Bacon knew it was going to be bad. But then, over the truck radio, Bacon
“You couldn’t even open your eyes,” he At the firehouse, when he first heard a and his fellow firefighters from Engine 39
said. “It felt like someone was pouring plane hit the World Trade Center, he in Manhattan heard the news about the
sand on you.” thought that it must have been an acci- second tower.
OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001 20
When they arrived at the scene, Bacon, Once the dust cleared, they saw light
a lieutenant and three other firefighters from the outside.
were told to go to a staging area on the “It eventually got brighter and
35th floor of Tower One. As they carried brighter in the stairwell,” said Bacon. “A
fire hoses and other equipment up the guy above us said he swore he saw sky and
stairs, they were passing people coming I’m thinking, how can you see sky, we’re on
down. the second floor of the World Trade Cen-
“People were coming down and it was ter? But then later another guy said, ‘I
pretty orderly,” said Bacon. “People were think I see the sun.’” Michael Cawley ’91 | FDNY, Ladder 136
saying ‘God bless you’ and ‘Be careful.’”
But now, lying in the darkness, it was
One of the fire chiefs, who was also
trapped, began blowing a siren. Fireman to the End
quiet chaos. Finally, after being trapped for three MICHAEL CAWLEY ’91, A NEW YORK CITY
He reached for his flashlight. So did hours, Bacon and other firefighters in the firefighter, died in the rescue efforts at the
the other firefighters trapped in the same stairwell were found by firemen from Lad- World Trade Center on Sept. 11. He was 32
area — his lieutenant and two firefighters der 43. “They had climbed all the way years old.
from Ladder 6. through the rubble and wreckage,” he said. Cawley’s ladder company, Ladder 136 in
“Everyone who was conscious was But it wasn’t over yet. Elmhurst, Queens, was detailed to Engine 292
turning their flashlights on and calling out “Once I was out, it probably took 45 and Rescue 4 the day of the terrorist attack.
‘who’s there, who’s there?’ It was pitch dark minutes to climb out of the debris to a More than 1,500 people attended a memo-
except for the flashlights.” staging area,” he said. “You had to walk on rial Mass for Cawley Oct. 7 at Mary’s Nativity
Bacon freed himself from the pipe. He beams, slide down a girder. Every time the Roman Catholic Church in his hometown of
and another firefighter near him could see wind blew, you had to close your eyes and Flushing.
a sign in the stairwell that indicated they stop for a minute because you couldn’t see. His body was recovered Nov. 3, and a
were on the second floor. “It took a long time to come out. You funeral Mass was celebrated Nov. 8 at Mary’s
“We still thought it was a collapse of could see parts of the towers leaning over Nativity Roman Catholic Church, followed by
the stairwell,” he said. you, Building 7 was burning. You just burial at Mount St. Mary’s Cemetery.
“We were thinking at least we are on wanted to get on street level.” He is survived by his parents, Margaret
the second floor. We had no clue the build- Bacon was transported to Bellevue and John; his sister, Kristin; and his brother,
ing was down.” Hospital for breathing difficulty, and re- Brendan.
The lieutenant from Engine 39 and leased later that night at about 11:30 p.m. Cawley graduated from Archbishop Molloy
another firefighter forced the door open He would find out the next day that High School.
thinking they could get into the hallway. two men from his firehouse were killed. He was a member of the Hudson Council
“But there was no hallway left,” said Bacon. About four days after the terrorist at- Knights of Columbus, and the New York Fire
“It was just another small void.” tack, Bacon, who lives in New City with his Department’s Holy Name Society, Emerald
Realizing they couldn’t get out on fiancée, Kathleen Liguori ’95, an elemen- Society and the department’s football team.
their own, the firefighters started to make tary school teacher in Rockland County, Cawley scored 100 percent on the Fire
mayday calls. was on assignment to search one of the Department exam, his brother, Brendan, told
They could hear reports on the broad- surrounding buildings. “I was amazed at The New York Times. Cawley loved his job and
band radio that both towers had collapsed, how bad it still was. There were still fires was “a walking billboard for the Fire
and Bacon thought, “There’s no way they burning down there,” he said. Department,” Brendan said in The New York
are coming to get us because there are 105 “Some of the guys are down there all Times interview, adding that Michael had
floors on top of us.” the time, still digging, still looking,” he said drawers of FDNY T-shirts and rarely wore any-
“I didn’t think we were getting out of several weeks later. thing else.
there,” Bacon said. “You were just sitting He had difficulty sleeping for the first Brendan also told The New York Times
tight. You didn’t want to move. Every time few weeks after the attack, and was still that Michael always wanted to be a firefighter
you heard something fall, you would waking up in the middle of the night. “It and by age 3, firefighters knew him by name.
cringe because you were worried there was helps to talk about it,” said Bacon.“I’m just Brendan once asked his brother, “Wouldn’t it
a secondary collapse. You were worried taking one day at a time.” be cool to play major-league baseball?”
you might suffocate.” —Patricia Rycraft O’Toole ’79 Brendan told The New York Times that
Michael’s answer was: “Rather be a fireman.”
21 OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001
Jimmy Grismer ’89 | FDNY, Engine Co. 23, Ladder 13
‘Hell on Earth’
Grismer Lost Two Oswego Friends
hen off-duty New York City fire- they would have a crane
W fighter Jimmy Grismer ’89 saw an
image of the World Trade Center in flames
come over and move it,”
he said.“Sometimes you’d
flash across his TV screen, he reached for the walk out of there after 10
phone to call longtime friends and fellow or 12 hours and feel like
alumni Michael Hannan ’89 and Rich you hadn’t done any-
“Ricky” Caproni ’89, who worked on the thing.”
98th floor of the World Trade Center Tower As he takes part in the
One. massive clean-up opera-
All circuits were busy, so Grismer left his tion, Grismer’s memories
home in Walden, Orange County, to drive to take him back to earlier
his firehouse, Engine Co. 23, Ladder 13. times that the World
His mother called him there to tell him Trade Center played a role
Caproni and Hannan were missing. He in his life.
would find out later that both friends died As a child, he would
in the attack. frequently visit the Twin
Grismer and Hannan became friends in Towers with his father,
high school in Lynbrook, Long Island. “We who was superintendent
played football together and we had the of operations at the World
same part-time jobs,”said Grismer.“We both Trade Center until his re-
attended Nassau Community College and in tirement in 1997. Grismer
1987, we both transferred to SUNY Oswego remembers watching the
— no doubt our finest time together.” Bicentennial Celebration
Grismer met Caproni at Oswego. “This fireworks in 1976 from
guy had more friends than anyone I’ve ever the observation deck.
known. Ricky was a sweet person and a After Sept. 11, it was a
super friend.” different view. “Words
Along with enduring the loss of two of can’t describe the devasta-
his best friends, Grismer lost nine from his tion, the destruction, the
firehouse in the collapse of the World Trade carnage I saw the first
Center. day… hell on earth.”
Weeks after the terrorist attacks, Gris- Weeks after the at-
mer said he still found it impossible to ac- tacks, the rubble was still
cept that this could really have happened. smoking. Steel I-beams,
PHOTO BY JOE LAWTON
“It’s beyond surreal,” said Grismer. “You said Grismer, “were still
can’t believe it. You think it’s a dream.” cherry red hot.”
In the days immediately following the Grismer comes from
attacks, firefighters from his firehouse were a long line of firefighters,
involved in the rescue and recovery mission, including his father and Jimmy Grismer ’89 lost two fellow alumni and many brother fire-
working shifts of 24 hours on and 24 hours grandfather, both volun- fighters.
off. The first week after the disaster, Grismer teer firefighters. An uncle
was there every day. was a New York City fire- look for books on firefighting. He found a
“We were still missing guys and we were man. book called Report from Engine Co. 82 writ-
like, ‘we’ve got to get them, we’ve got to get “I grew up in a firehouse one way or an- ten by Dennis Smith, a New York City fire-
them,’” he said. other,” he said. fighter, and published in 1972.
The work has been tedious, dangerous A broadcasting major at Oswego, he “It explained the life and times of a fire-
and never ending. traces his decision to become a firefighter to fighter in that era,” he recalls. “I read that
“It was so frustrating. You just dug an epiphany he had at Penfield Library. book in one night and I said, ‘This is what I
through rubble six or eight inches deep and While working on a term paper, he want to do.’ I knew in my heart that’s what I
you would come across a big steel beam and found himself drawn to the “F” section to wanted to be.”
OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001 22
He took the firefighter test in 1992, the
Bill Beyer ’77 | FDNY, Battalion 18
physical in 1994 and was accepted in 1995.
“It was one of the happiest days in my
life when I got that letter saying, ‘You have
been selected,’” he said.
Beyer Sees Hope
“We love our jobs,” he said of himself IN THE SPAN OF SEVERAL WEEKS, day-to-day basis in the search and rescue,
and his fellow firefighters. “We call each Battalion Fire Chief Bill Beyer ’77 had has been staggering.
other brother and it couldn’t be more true. been to more funerals and memorial servic- “You really can’t describe it in words,”
We lost quite a few guys from the firehouse. es than most people attend in a lifetime. said Beyer. “The damage, the destruction.
It’s unbelievable. I think I’ll wake up and go “It’s very difficult,” said Beyer, a 23-year You see things nobody should have to see.”
into work and see all these guys.” veteran of the Fire Department of New York. He has found solace and a way to cope
How is he getting through this? “There are so many funerals and memorial in his music. Beyer, who is married and has
“My wife, Jennifer, has been wonder- services, you can’t even properly grieve for five children, is a member of his church’s
ful, right beside me every day. My family, each individual.” folk group, playing gui-
my friends, my firefighter friends, we’ve all And the sheer num- tar and singing.
stuck together and said, ‘We’re going to get ber of firefighter fatali- He has played his
through this.We don’t know how, but we’re ties in the terrorist “We saved 25,000 guitar at about a dozen
going to get through this.’” attack on the World funerals and memorial
Before the World Trade Center attacks, Trade Center has made lives by getting services for fellow fire-
it impossible for griev- fighters. “That’s a little
Grismer had a poster in his garage of the
ing firefighters to
them out of the bit of therapy for me,”
raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, with the say-
ing “We can, we must, we will.” attend every service. buildings before said Beyer. “I feel like
The poster no longer hangs in his On one Saturday, I’m doing something
garage. there were 23 memori- they collapsed. good for somebody
al services and funerals else.”
It now hangs on the wall at the fire-
for his fellow New
We have to What he has seen in
house amid the cards and letters the fire-
fighters have received from all over the York City firefighters, remember this his fellow rescuers and
world. and most weekends the people from across
—Patricia Rycraft O’Toole ’79 averaged 20 services. and not let it the country as they
“Everybody is just reach out to offer
numb,” said Beyer,
fade away.” encouragement and
chief of Battalion 18 in gratitude is hope.
the Bronx. “It just feels “Good always tri-
like my heart and soul were ripped out umphs over evil. There’s a tremendous
of me.” amount of good we’ve seen come from
Sept. 11 was a day off from the fire people that will overcome the bad that has
department for Beyer, so he was working happened. It will take a long time, but
as a substitute technology teacher at a good will prevail.”
school near his Highland Mills, Orange And, he said, in this time of tremendous
County, home. loss, we should not forget one remarkable
At about 11 a.m., another teacher drew accomplishment of the rescuers who died
his attention to the television and asked if and those who survived.
he had heard what happened. “I thought it “We saved 25,000 lives by getting
was a movie,” he said. them out of the buildings before they col-
Beyer immediately left to join in the lapsed. We have to remember this and not
search and rescue effort. let it fade away.”
What he first saw when he arrived on —Patricia Rycraft O’Toole ’79
the scene, and what he has dealt with on a
In happier days, Grismer (front left) and Rich
Caproni ’89 (back row, second from left) got
together with Oswego alumni on the “Ugly Team”
for a Bills football game.
23 OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001
Joe Liselli ’87 | FDNY, Engine Co. 54, Ladder 4
Cards from Kids Keep Liselli Going
f the 60 firefighters assigned to Joe
O Liselli’s firehouse, 15 died at the World
Liselli has been a firefighter for two
years after serving three years as a New York
whatever they can to help the families of the
firefighters who were killed, he said. Twenty-
City police officer. nine children lost their dads.
“Everyone who worked that day, they’re While Liselli is assigned to Engine 54, he “The families come down to the house,”
all gone,” said Joe Liselli ’87, of Engine 54, had spent the nine months before the attack he said. “It makes you feel better. You do
Ladder 4 in Manhattan. “They were in the on a rotation at another firehouse in the what you can for them.We try to take care of
first group that went down.” South Bronx. Joe would often visit the guys them.
Of all firehouses that responded to the at Engine 54 because the firehouse is just a “We still have so much to do,” he said.
World Trade Center,“we lost the most in the few blocks from the apartment he shares “You have to fight fires, take care of the fam-
city,” he said. with fellow firefighter and Oswego alumnus ilies and take care of each other.”
“If you aren’t working, you are going to Peter Wasserman ’87. Going to work at the firehouse, he said,
memorials,” said Liselli. “Psychologically, it’s “I live right up the street, so I always “is like going to a memorial every day.”
been pretty tough. You’ll have a good day, used to walk down and see how things were Engine 54, which is near Times Square,
you’ll have a bad day.” going,” said Liselli. “You become good has been visited by many people since
friends, you live together, you Sept. 11. The firehouse brims with flowers,
PHOTO BY JOE LAWTON
eat together, you go on trips gifts, cards and letters, many from school
together.” children. “It kind of keeps you going a little
Because Engine 54 lost so bit,” said Liselli.
many firefighters, he has re- There’s one drawing that has really got-
turned there now, instead of ten to Liselli. Drawn by an 8-year-old, it
waiting three months to com- shows a World Trade Center in flames and
plete his rotation in the Bronx. an unhappy face on the sun.
Liselli and the other fire- “It was the saddest thing I ever saw.”
fighters at Engine 54 are doing —Patricia Rycraft O’Toole ’79
James Marley ’87 | FDNY, 36 Truck
Marley Came Back to Help
JAMES MARLEY ’87 HAD NEVER Marley. “All the bridges were closed.
heard it before so he wasn’t sure If you weren’t a firefighter, a police
whether he was mistaken. Did the officer or an EMT, you weren’t get-
radio announcer really say all off- ting into Manhattan.”
duty New York City firefighters had By the time his battalion arrived
to report? on the scene of the attack, “it was
When he heard the same just white powder, sheet metal,
announcement a few minutes later, steel I-beams and lots of paper.”
Marley said, “I knew it was for real.” Marley spent the night looking
James was on vacation on Sept. for survivors, and has been partici-
11, driving to East Hampton, Long pating in the search and rescue and
Island, with the car radio on. He and recovery efforts.
his son, Jake, were on their way to His firehouse didn’t lose anyone,
visit the Marley family. though two firefighters from his old
He turned toward home, drop- house, 12 Truck in Chelsea, Manhat-
ped his son off with a babysitter tan, were killed.
and met up with fellow firefighters Marley and his wife, Kathy, also
to go to his firehouse, 36 Truck. have a daughter, Alyssa.
Joe Liselli ’87 belongs to a firehouse that lost “It was total chaos,” said
all the firefighters on duty Sept. 11.
OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001 24
Grads at WNYT Cover WTC
reporter is always looking for the “big They couldn’t get into
A story.” But when the folks at WNYT in
Albany got the chance to cover the biggest
New York and so they
spent the first day and
one in recent memory — the Sept. 11 attack night at Jersey City, talk-
— it was a bittersweet achievement. ing to people who had
Seven Oswego alumni — on-air re- seen the attack, looking
porters Benita Zahn ’76 and John Gray ’85, across the river at the sky-
producers Jeff Wernick ’95 and Tracy Lon- line. The next day they
czak Wernick ’95, Mark Szpylczyn ’79, made it to Ground Zero.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WNYT
Steve Robbins ’79 and Steve St. George ’81 Gray was in New York
— work at the NBC affiliate, and all had a until Friday. Thinking
hand in bringing coverage of the attack to quickly, he had booked
the people of the Capital District. rooms at the Marriott for
“You hope for the big story; anyone the crew. Because he had
who tells you they don’t is a liar,” said Gray. no clothes, he purchased Oswego alumni are well represented among WNYT staffers.
“Part of you is glad to experience it as a re- what he needed there — at From left are Mark Szpylczyn ’79, Jeff Wernick ’95, Tracy
porter, but the other part of you wants to be premium prices. “I ended Lonczak Wernick ’95, John Gray ’85, Steve Robbins ’79, Benita
home with your kids.” up with three dress shirts, Zahn ’76 and Steve St. George ’81.
Gray saw families holding up pictures of three ties and a pair of
their loved ones on the piers of New York, socks for about $200,” he said.
and he walked the ruins of the Twin Towers. “There’s a lesson here for young re- COPING, BACK HOME
“I have been a reporter since I got out of porters. You don’t worry about where you’re The WNYT staffers are back in the Cap-
Oswego in 1985, and no story — nothing — going to sleep, what you have in your pocket ital District, coping with the realities of life
has affected me like this,” said Gray. “I just or what kind of clothes you have.You just go.” after Sept. 11.
wanted to go into a corner and cry.” “We keep thinking the stories will end,
Jeff Wernick, who produced a 90- THE BACK SIDE OF THE MOON but we keep ending up with more,” said Jeff.
minute non-stop news show Sept. 11 and The WNYT health reporter, Zahn spent Another Capital District station got two let-
several others in the following days, said, the first day covering the Red Cross blood ters they feared were infected with anthrax
“For the first time since I’ve been in this busi- drive in Albany. The next day, she was in addressed to the on-air hosts, and a local
ness, I felt like we were providing a real serv- New York City. man invented a heat machine that cuts
ice to people.” He called that first show “the “The whole area was dust, grey dust,” she through concrete and steel which was sent
most draining 90 minutes” he’s experienced. said of Ground Zero. “We had a half hour down to Ground Zero.
“I’ve been a reporter a long time and and just started walking. The photographer For a while Zahn was haunted by the
you’re prepared for just about anything, and slow mo’d it and that’s what it felt like.” memory of the smell at Ground Zero.
you make a peace a long time ago with your- She called the scene “surreal,” saying, “Smell is the most powerful of senses, hard-
self. It’s like flipping a switch, so you can do “I’ve shopped in these stores, walked these wired into your brain,” she said. “I was
your job and not get emotional, but leave a streets and eaten in these restaurants, but I smelling the disaster at weird times, but that
little emotion so you’re not cold,” said Zahn. could have been on the back side of the passed.”
“There was not a reporter from our crew moon.” A long-distance runner who raised
who was not touched, who did not have Zahn and Gray worked shoulder-to- about $65,000 at the Boston Marathon for a
tears in his eyes.” shoulder for two live, on-air appearances colleague who died of cancer, Zahn found
each night until Friday after the attacks. her own way to escape the horrors she had
LESSON FOR YOUNG REPORTERS They witnessed events like the Presidential witnessed. “I got home on Saturday and it
Gray was on his way to the gym when motorcade and the reunion of a mother was a breathtakingly, achingly beautiful
the news first broke. He walked into the gym from Colonie and her daughter, who es- morning — you know how it is in mid-Sep-
and no one was exercising. They were all caped from the 82nd floor and drove home. tember. The sun was sparkling on the Hud-
watching the monitors. “We were there when she saw her mother son and we went (running). It was the most
“I called the station and I asked ‘Do you for the first time that Friday,” said Jeff Wer- life-affirming thing I could do.”
need me to go?’ I had only a suit and eight nick. For both stories, Tracy Wernick was in — Michele Reed
bucks in my pocket,” he said. “I was on the the production booth.
road at the time the second plane hit.”
25 OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001
Kids Reach Out
In the midst of a terrible tragedy, a SUNY Oswego connection
gave comfort and hope to overwhelmed firefighters and a lesson
in heroism for some third-graders and sixth-graders.
s the tragedy of Sept. 11 was first un- ly should leave it up to the parents,” she said. Boxes were filled with socks, gloves,
A folding, elementary school teachers
Bill Cahill ’94 and Jennifer Jung Cahill ’93
When her students returned to school
on the following day, they had lots of ques-
flashlights, snacks, key chains and other
gifts. One third-grade boy put a Lego fire-
and their classes wanted to show their con- tions. And, said Jennifer, they told her, “We fighter figure inside a Band-Aid box.
cern and do something to help. want to do something.” Also included were cards and letters.
Little did they know that the heroes they Bill heard that same desire to help from “They were really very touching, heartfelt
would reach out to hundreds of miles away his sixth-graders. letters,” said Jennifer Cahill.
in New York City would include SUNY Os- That same week, the Cahills called Helping out with the project in Bill
wego alumni. friends of theirs in New York City, brothers Cahill’s class were two consulting teachers in
Here’s their story: Jerry and Tom Caraccioli ’89, to check in on his classroom, Alaina Morawski ’91 and
Bill Cahill is a sixth-grade teacher at them and other alumni friends. Cheryl Natoli ’83.The new principal at Vol-
Volney Elementary School in the Fulton When Bill and Jennifer told Tom that ney Elementary School is Donna Parkhurst
School District, just south of Oswego. His their students wanted to do something to ’88, who lent her support to the project. The
wife, Jennifer, teaches third grade at help, he mentioned that a friend and fellow new physical education teacher, Kevin
Leighton Elementary School in Oswego. alumnus, Peter Wasserman ’87, was a New Ahern ’87, sent basketballs, footballs and
On Sept. 11, Jennifer and other third- York City firefighter. Three firefighters from jump ropes.
grade teachers at her school decided not to Wasserman’s firehouse were lost at the Meanwhile, in lower Manhattan,
tell their students about the terrorist attacks World Trade Center. Wasserman and his fellow firefighters were
that day. The Cahills’ classes went to work living through the first dark days of early
“My team and I got together and decid- preparing packages to send to the firefight- rescue operations.
ed not to share it with our kids, that we real- ers at Engine 82. Then, the packages from Upstate New
York started arriving.
“The first package we got from Fulton, I
had no idea what it was,” said Wasserman,
who has been a firefighter since 1991. He re-
membered that Fulton was located near his
alma mater. “The next day I came back (to
the firehouse) and there’s three huge boxes.”
It was a much-needed lift, he said.
“It felt good to know that even people
so far away realized what’s going on,”he said.
Having the packages originate from Oswego
alumni and the Oswego area “brought back
a lot of good memories,” said Wasserman.
“It was a welcome distraction to everything
that is going on.”
The children’s cards and letters now
decorate the kitchen wall in the firehouse.
The lesson in caring and giving isn’t
over for the students of Volney Elementary
and Leighton School, said the Cahills.
“This is going to be a year-long project,”
said Bill Cahill. Both schools continue to
send packages to the firehouse, especially
Jennifer Jung Cahill ’93, back row left, and her third-grade class sent cards and letters to during the winter holidays. “We told them
firefighters in New York City.
we wanted to adopt their firehouse for the
year,” he said.
OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001 26
Bill Cahill ’94, front row center, and his
sixth-graders made a timeline of the attack
on America and reached out to firefighters.
Also lending support with the project were,
in the back row, Donna Parkhurst ’88 (far
left), Volney Elementary School principal;
Alaina Morawski ’91 (second from right),
consulting teacher; and Kevin Ahern ’87
(far right), physical education teacher.
Wasserman sent red, white and blue
and yellow ribbons to the two classes to let
the students know how much their efforts
are appreciated at the firehouse. He and sev-
eral other firefighters hope to visit the stu-
dents to personally thank the kids.
Wasserman, who played hockey for the
SUNY Oswego Lakers, hopes to catch a
home hockey game during the trip.
Their civic involvement has helped the
children cope with the tragedy by helping
others, said Jennifer Cahill. “They have a
Drawing by Sean, third grade.
sense of empowerment, that they are help-
ing and not helpless.”
“Sometimes, because they are children “For the first time ever in my teaching
they don’t think they can make a difference in career, I hear kids saying ‘I want to be a fire-
the world. We wanted them to know that man and a policeman when I grow up,’”said
even though they are children in upstate New Bill Cahill. “It’s nice to hear them say that
York, they can make a difference for people again. They have become today’s super-
who live very far away,” said Bill Cahill. heroes.”
Wasserman and his fellow firefighters —Patricia Rycraft O’Toole ’79
have inspired the students with the lesson of
27 OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001
“Light is a symbol of love, a symbol of knowledge, and also a symbol of truth.
At this vigil, in solidarity, we hold our candles to drive out the
darkness of the night and in our world.”
—PRESIDENT DEBORAH F. STANLEY, SEPT. 11, 2001
Our condolences go out to the families and friends
of Oswego alumni lost on Sept. 11.
Scott Bart ’95 Michael O’Brien ’81
Malverne, N.Y. Cedar Knolls, N.J.
Marsh & McLennan Cantor Fitzgerald
Michelle Bratton ’00 James E. Potorti ’72
Yonkers, N.Y. Princeton, N.J.
Cantor Fitzgerald Marsh & McLennan
Richard Caproni ’89 Leo Roberts ’79
Lynbrook, N.Y. Wayne, N.Y.
Marsh & McLennan Cantor Fitzgerald
Michael Cawley ’91 Melissa R. Vincent ‘94
Flushing, N.Y. Hoboken, N.J.
FDNY, Ladder 136 Alliance Consulting Group
Michael Collins ’84 James Woods ’97
Upper Montclair, N.J. Pearl River, N.Y.
Cantor Fitzgerald Cantor Fitzgerald
Michael Hannan ’89 * These are the alumni lost in
Lynbrook, N.Y. Sept. 11 attacks as known at
Marsh & McLennan press time.
Brendan Chamberlain ’91 | NYPD, 23rd Precinct
Days, Nights a Blur
Chamberlain Contributes to New York Recovery
fter 13 days at Ground Zero, Brendan back. Days and nights were
A Chamberlain ’91 had this message for
people who want to go down and see it:
On Sept. 24, Cham-
“You might not come out of it the way you berlain got bad news — his
were when you went in.” father was gravely ill in
The New York City police officer saw North Carolina. He made
things he will never forget. “I saw a lot of the journey south, and
things that left scars,” he said. “When I look after his father passed away
back, it actually bothers me more now than on Sept. 27, he didn’t have
when I was in there. I get welled up when I the desire to go back inside
talk about it.” Ground Zero.
Although he wasn’t working when the His dad, an NYPD de-
planes hit the World Trade Center on Sept. tective, had been Cham-
11, Chamberlain was called in soon after berlain’s inspiration to go
that. into police work. Cham-
berlain was a theatre major
at Oswego and lived in
“I saw a lot of things California for a while after
that left scars...” graduation. He worked on
some educational films
and commercials, and had
When Chamberlain reported to his a small but regular gig on
precinct, the 23rd, located in Spanish the weekly TV show “Park-
Harlem, he suited up to go downtown — er Lewis Can’t Lose.” He
only to find he was on standby. tried acting for three years
The next day he was part of a team at and then worked as a tal-
Ground Zero, helping escort people to and ent agent for children for
from the site. Eventually he got connected four. He took the police
with one of the supply coordinators for exam in New York and
Ground Zero, providing everything from when they offered him a
welding tips to toothpaste, masks and gloves job, he took it.
PHOTO BY JOE LAWTON
to the groups working through the rubble. At press time Cham-
“I would be running around inside berlain was working at the
Ground Zero to all the groups — firefight- temporary hub site for all
ers, first aid, police, welders,” he said. “We the groups — the Office of
would go and get the stuff they needed. For Emergency Management,
example, when they needed 500 shovels we FDNY, NYPD. It’s where Brendan Chamberlain ’91 delivered supplies to Ground Zero
and patrols the command center.
would make a call to, say, Home Depot, and Mayor Rudolph Guiliani
they would donate them, bring them in, and and other top officials
we would distribute them.” gather to make decisions
Being busy helped.“It made me feel like about the efforts at Ground Zero and hold want to be back in my precinct, doing pa-
I was doing something,”he said.“I wanted to press conferences. Chamberlain can’t say trol. Since we have to have somebody there
dig. I wanted to find somebody but wasn’t al- where that is. every day, I told them, ‘I would like to do
lowed. . . . It felt good that I was able to help. “We are doing security there . . . making that.’ It makes me feel better about the whole
“That was my gig every day from 4 in sure people have proper ID, checking bags thing. I’m contributing to the recovery of
the morning ’til 7 or 8 that night and some- and car trunks,” he said. New York and that feels pretty good.”
times ‘til 1 the next morning,” he said. “I’d “It’s the headquarters. That’s where I —Michele Reed
come home, sleep a couple hours and go wanted to be,” said Chamberlain. “I didn’t
OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001 30
Rafael Giovanni “Jova” Rodriguez ’98 | NYPD, 42nd Precinct
There at the Fall
‘Jova’ Rodriguez Was a Block Away When WTC 7 Came Down
afael Giovanni “Jova” Rodriguez ’98 Rodriguez always wanted to be a police
R didn’t see the images of the planes hit-
ting the Twin Towers the morning of Sept.
officer. He hopes someday to join a federal
agency like the FBI or Drug Enforcement
11. The TV antennae serving his neighbor- Agency. At Oswego he majored in Spanish
hood were atop the World Trade Center. literature and has found his bilingualism to
But the NYPD officer’s first glimpse of be a big help in his job.
the area was dramatic. He arrived at Ground One good thing came out of the de-
Zero later that day and was one block away struction of Sept. 11, he said — a new re-
when Building 7 fell. spect for the police officers and firefighters.
Rodriguez arrived at the West Side High- “The Yankees and the Mets had on NYPD
way. “All you could see was debris in the air,” and FDNY hats,” he said. “It makes you feel
he said. “They wanted us to search some so good.” Even street vendors were selling
buildings in the immediate area, because peo- the police and fire memorabilia.
ple were scared and didn’t want to come out.” “People are being patriotic,” he said.
It felt like a scene from a movie. “I felt “Wearing the NYPD hat is like waving the
like we were in ‘Band of Brothers,’” he said. American flag.” ‘Jova’ Rodriguez ’98 helped to search the
“It felt good, because people were on the —Michele Reed
sides, cheering us on as we went in.”
When they were about a block from
WTC 7, the third-largest building in the
Sgt. John McLoughlin ’75 | New York Port Authority Police
complex at 47 stories high, Rodriguez said,
“We heard a rumbling sound. We thought it
was a jet fighter because the F-16s were pa-
trolling the island.”
Trapped for 20 Hours
And then the building fell. “We heard a FOR MORE THAN 20 HOURS, Sgt. John did not survive. McLoughlin and Jimeno
fireman yelling, ‘Run!’ A cloud was coming McLoughlin ’75 of the New York Port Au- were assisting with evacuation and rescue
at us. Our dark blue uniforms were white. thority Police Department lay trapped be- efforts at the time the towers collapsed.
We had to get masks to breathe.” neath the rubble of the World Trade They were believed to be in an area known
Rodriguez got home at about 3 or 4 Center. as the Concourse, which connects the
o’clock the next morning. That’s when he Surrounding fires burned so intensely, buildings below ground level, said Trevor.
finally saw the images the rest of America the heat triggered another officer’s service McLoughlin was very familiar with the
had been viewing all day. “I did cry that revolver to fire off several bullets. WTC complex, having been assigned there
day, when I first saw it,” he said. “The next Rescuers worked the day and night of from 1987 to 2000. He received a group
day, when I went down to Ground Zero, Sept. 11 and into the early hours of Sept. valor award for his outstanding work dur-
tears started coming down my face.” 12 to free McLoughlin. He was recovering ing the 1993 terrorist bombing of the
He spent two weeks at Ground Zero, and listed in stable condition at Bellevue World Trade Center.
patrolling the area with his brother officers. Hospital at the end of October. A married man and father, McLough-
“It’s the most horrific sight, words can’t McLoughlin is assigned to the Port lin was promoted to his current rank in
explain what you see,” he said. “Two days Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Man- 2000, and assigned to the bus terminal.
later I saw a police officer pulled out of the hattan. Port Authority police officers un- He also has worked as an emergency serv-
rubble. All the police officers and firefighters dergo special training to become certified ices unit instructor.
stood and saluted.” as first responders for medical emergen- Among those who rescued McLough-
Twice, he and his partner went down to cies and are cross-trained as firefighters. lin were New York Police Department offi-
search the rubble, on their only two days off “Sgt. McLoughlin was among the first cers who received emergency services
during a four-week period. “It’s so difficult to respond,” said Greg Trevor, a spokesman training from him, said Trevor.
to search,” he said. “When you look at for the Port Authority. Well wishes can be sent to McLoughlin
footage of it coming down, you see these lit- Fellow officer William Jimeno was in care of the Port Authority Police Depart-
tle toothpicks. These beams are so big — I trapped in the rubble with him. Jimeno ment at the Port Authority Technical Cen-
saw them placing a beam on a flatbed and it was rescued after about 12 hours. He was ter, 241 Erie Street, Room 212, Jersey City,
broke the flatbed.” also seriously injured. There were other of- NJ 07310.
ficers who were trapped with them who
31 OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001
Larry Rubinstein ’81 | Owner, Rubco
Chance Put Medic on the Scene
e may be a television editor
H and technical director by
profession, but Larry Rubinstein
’81 is also a trained medic and on
Sept. 11 he found himself in a
place where his skills were very
much needed — Ground Zero.
Rubinstein, a senior editor at
a production facility in New York
City and owner of the video com-
pany Rubco, was in a production
meeting in Building 7 of the
World Trade Center when the
first plane hit.
“Everyone thought it was a
mistake, like the military plane
that hit the Empire State Building
in the ’30s or ’40s,” he said. People
Rubinstein teamed up with
fire personnel and other medics
to help anyone needing them.
PHOTO BY JOE LAWTON
“There was a lot of debris
coming down onto people on the
street and we were rendering aid
to them,” he said. Then the sec-
ond plane hit. “I heard it and I Larry Rubinstein ’81 used his training as a medic to help victims at Ground Zero.
looked up and I saw it go in,” he
said. “Then we realized it was not
just an accident, something more
was going on.” Except for scrapes and bruises, Rubin- Usually the calls aren’t so dangerous,
Rubinstein teamed up with other med- stein wasn’t badly hurt. He stayed and tried and sometimes they have a happy ending.
ical personnel arriving on the scene. to tend to people. After Sept. 11 he went “I’ve delivered babies before,” he said.
“I was helping out with a firefighter. back every day for five days. “I was helping Despite his bravery in rushing back into
And then he yelled at the top of his lungs, out, trying to rescue somebody, but there Ground Zero to help survivors, Rubinstein
‘Grab somebody and run,’” Rubinstein said. was no one to rescue,” he said. insists he is not a hero.
Rubinstein picked up the girl he was Rubinstein is a senior TV editor and “The folks on the Pennsylvania flight
working on and ran with the firefighter and technical director in the TV business. He and the firefighters who went into the build-
his patient. “After the building fell, a wall of won a technical Emmy for a CBS two-hour ing — those are the heroes,” he said. “I was
smoke came at us and we ran into a building special “Television and the Presidency.” just trying to help.”
and closed the door. More workers were He has been a medic for about 20 years, —Michele Reed
coming in, so after the smoke let up a bit, we but he started getting his medical training
went back and were tending to people. And even before that. “In 1972, when I was 13
he yelled again. It was the second building years old, my dad died of a heart attack. And
coming down.” if somebody had known anything about
Rubinstein went one way, the firefighter medical training, he might have been alive
the other. Rubinstein got hit with falling today,” he said.
rubble and was covered with debris, until he Rubinstein is part of a team trained in
was pulled clear by another at the scene. rescue that gets called in case of disaster.
OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001 32
Joseph Ricci ’91 | Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Caring for the City
Ricci Helps Disburse Aid
12-year-old church that ministers to Redeemer Presbyterian partnered with manager in March. A theatre major at Os-
A business professionals in New York
City’s financial district has become a focus
groups like the Bowery Men’s Transitional
Center. The church helps 30 programs with
wego, he is known for his roles in “Pippin”
and “Into the Woods.”After working in New
of charitable giving to help those affected by funds and volunteers. York theatre for a while, he wanted “some-
the Sept. 11 attacks. thing a little more stable” to provide for his
Redeemer Presbyterian Church office family — he and his wife have three chil-
manager Joseph Ricci ’91 is helping to man-
“We want to help the dren. He began doing computer work for
age more than $1.3 million donated by peo- people in need, help the Actor’s Equity at the national headquarters
ple around the country to help those in need. and that led to his office manager job at the
Because the congregation consists city in need.” church. Now he is pursuing pastoral work.
mostly of young professionals in the finan- That comes naturally for him. A member of
cial fields, the church, located on Madison The church set up a Disaster Relief De- the Newman Center at Oswego, Ricci sang
Avenue and 40th Street in midtown Man- partment. As office manager, Ricci had to with the worship leading group.
hattan, was hard hit by the events of Sept. obtain more phones and office space, and Whether he is working with the relief
11. “We have a lot of people who have been set up a new database to keep track of every- fund or pastoral work, Ricci is happy to be
affected by this,” says Ricci. “Just the spiritu- thing.“Sort of a triage for charitable giving,” helping his city.
al need that people are feeling now has is how Ricci describes it. “We are a church that exists for the city,
caused our attendance to grow by about To find people that may need the help a church that loves the city. And so we want
1,000.” they had to offer, the church set up on one of to care for the city. We think it’s a great
The day of the attacks the church the piers and handed out flyers. place to be,” he says.
opened its doors to people to come in off the Ricci joined the church staff as office —Michele Reed
streets and pray or talk with staffers. “We
had pastors that were down in the midst of it
— praying with people, talking with people,
just being there with people,” says Ricci.
Church members opened their homes to
those who had lost their apartments.
None of the congregation members lost
their lives. But some lost loved ones; others,
their jobs; still others, their homes.
People all over the country began con-
tributing. By mid-October over $1.3 million
had been raised, from Presbyterians and
people of other denominations. The fund
was named “Hope for New York” and has its
own status as a not-for-profit corporation.
“We want to help the people in need,
help the city in need,” says Ricci. “With all
the generosity from around the country that
has been given to us, we decided to help all
those who might need it — not just church
PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSEPH RICCI ’91
Joseph Ricci ’91 helps manage a $1.3 mil-
lion fund for disaster relief.
33 OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001
Mary Alison Guidone Valle ’86, M ’89 | American Red Cross
Career of Caring
Red Cross Staffer’s Been There Before
fter the Sept. 11 attacks, Mary Alison
A Guidone Valle ’86, M ’89 dropped
what she was doing and went to help out at
an emergency blood drive at Red Cross
Square in Washington, D.C. The drive went
on until midnight to make sure each per-
son waiting in the long lines could give
blood. Pitching in during a disaster is noth-
ing new to Valle, who has worked with the
American Red Cross since she graduated
In fact, the World Trade Center disaster
hit close to home for Valle, despite the fact
that her office as manager of youth involve-
ment is at Red Cross National Headquar-
ters in Washington. Her first job out of
college was as a disaster caseworker at the
Greater New York Chapter. She provided
emergency assistance in the city, which av-
erages 10 fires a day, and later joined the
Disaster Services Human Resource system
responding to plane crashes, earthquakes
“I remember vividly the day the World
Trade Center was bombed in 1993, as the
Greater New York chapter was concluding a
two-day training of city mental health
workers,” she says. “I assisted with support
groups the Red Cross provided to help the
PHOTO BY HILARY SCHWAB
workers reduce their anxiety about return-
ing to the buildings.”
Valle continued to help out at emer-
gency blood drives following the Sept. 11
attacks. “It was inspiring to see so many Mary Alison Guidone Valle ’86, M’89 has been on the scene of many disasters with the Red
people selflessly wait for hours and hours to Cross.
be able to help a stranger,” she says. That
first day the Washington Blood Services re- set up by young people to help support the Sept. 11 attack and worked at the compas-
gional office reported over 450 donors. “It Red Cross Disaster Relief effort. It was very sion center set up there.
felt like thousands!” says Valle. “Normally touching.” Valle says her experiences have con-
they have 60 donors per day.” A psychology major with a master’s in vinced her of one thing. “Whatever the
She was happy to see young people get counseling psychology from Oswego, Valle scope of the disaster, whether it is a single-
involved in the disaster relief as well. says working for the Red Cross has been re- family fire or a flood destroying an entire
“What was amazing to me was the fact warding. “I joined the Red Cross to help town, there is always one constant —
that America’s young people as a whole — people. Little did I know then how much neighbors helping neighbors,” she says. “In
not just Red Cross youth volunteers — helping people would help me.” She is part the hours, days and weeks after this horrific
came out in droves to help the victims,”says of a Red Cross family. Her husband, Daniel, disaster, as I struggle to come to terms with
Valle. “In the days immediately following director of Africa and the Middle East In- what occurred, it has been comforting to
the disasters, I couldn’t walk down the ternational Services at the American Red see that same spirit of giving and caring for
street in Washington, D.C., without en- Cross National Headquarters, was assigned others. Only this time we are all neighbors.”
countering a bake sale or lemonade stand to disaster relief in New York City after the —Michele Reed
OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001 34
Bill Corrigan ’79 | Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Best Present Ever
Anniversary Flowers Saved His Life
ne woman’s love and another my keys are in the building,’” she says,
O woman’s fear of heights may
have meant the difference between
adding that she was thankful it was
only his keys and not her husband
life and death for Bill Corrigan ’79. that was lost in the building.
Alumni Bill and Gloria Hay- When she met Bill in the station
ward Corrigan ’79 will never forget parking lot, all of the debris that had
their 19th wedding anniversary — covered him had fallen off from
Sept. 11. In fact, that milestone may hours of walking around the streets.
well have saved Bill’s life. A few min- “But the look in his eyes,” she says.
utes before 9 a.m., just before the “You could tell by people’s eyes, the
first plane hit his building, the vice horror they had seen.”
president for underwriting with The couple had been best friends
Blue Cross/Blue Shield was staying before they started dating, living
at his desk on the 31st floor of 1 across the hall from each other in
World Trade Center, waiting for the Onondaga Hall. Gloria, head orienta-
florist shops to open so he could tion guide, recruited Bill at the start of
order flowers for Gloria. If he had senior year to help transfer students
been in the elevators or doing busi- move in. Although they spent a lot of
ness on a higher floor, he might not time together, it wasn’t until a Hal-
have made it home that day, he says. loween party at the Pontiac Hotel that
“That was the best anniversary they knew it was more than just
present ever,” Gloria says. “He made friendship. “We’ve been together ever
it home alive.” since,” says Gloria.
The Corrigans — Bill ’79, Gloria ’79 and Kevin — had a
Being on a lower floor certainly The couple are loyal to their alma
happy day after all.
helped, too. When the company mater.“We come up to reunion every
moved into the World Trade Center year,” Gloria says. “This summer we
in 1998, they were slated to have space on over our faces and could still breathe.”With didn’t, because it was my high school re-
the 98th floor. One of the senior vice presi- a touch of understatement Bill says, “It was union.Thank God we get another chance
dents went to see the offices. She was afraid a little unnerving.” next year.”
of heights and insisted on a lower floor.“Be- While Bill was escaping the building —Michele Reed
lieve me, I gave her a big hug the next day,” and wandering the streets, Gloria was at
Bill says. home worrying. At first she didn’t know
On the morning of Sept. 11,“We heard anything about the crash until Bill’s broth- Coincidence Saves Colonel
a loud noise and the building began to er, Gregg Corrigan ’84, called.
FATE WAS ON THE SIDE OF U.S. AIR
shake,” says Bill. He and his co-workers She spent the morning surrounded by
Force Col. Keith J. Wagner ’76. He was
headed for the stairs and made their way friends and relatives. Her sister-in-law and a
supposed to be at work in the Pentagon
down, helping each other calmly. About the friend went to get the couple’s son Kevin,
the morning of Sept. 11 and frequents
20th floor they met firefighters coming up 11, from school. While they were gone, Glo-
the offices that were destroyed. But the
the stairs in full gear.“They were walking up ria got the call she had been hoping for. One
Chief of the Joint Training Branch was
as we were going out and telling us not to of Bill’s co-workers had gotten through to
called out of town and was visiting rela-
worry, we’re going to get out. They were his mother and she called to say Bill was all
tives in Utica when terrorists attacked
wonderful,” Bill says. “I’ll never look at a right. Gloria was able to get the word to
fireman or policeman the same way.” Kevin, before he saw the buildings collapse
“In fact, all of my uniforms were in an
After going through the mall below the on TV.
office only 50 feet from where the nose
building, they were ushered by more fire- It was another two hours before she
of the airplane came to rest,” he says.
fighters out onto the street. They were would get a call from Bill himself, and even
Later on in the crisis, he would be a
about two blocks away when the first build- later before she would see him again. He
member of one of the teams on duty at
ing fell. They were able to tuck behind a was able to get one of the first trains out of
the National Military Command Center.
building and avoid the worst of the wall of Penn Station.“Bill called and said,‘You have
smoke that hit them. “We put our shirts to pick me up at the train station, because
35 OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001
Debbie Mardenfeld ’93 American Express
Liesel Scheuerman ’97 || Nexxt Health Gregory Kipp ’99 | Reuters
‘Jane Doe’ Saved by Doctors is an Oswego Grad
he doctors didn’t even know who it
T was they were saving. But a team of
dedicated surgeons made it possible for
She was brought to NYU Downtown
as Jane Doe #1, according to a “Dateline
azine in a Sept. 20 article.
Through a seven-hour surgery —
NBC” story on the MSNBC Web site. “Her which People reported included a power
Debbie Mardenfeld ’93 to look forward to legs were almost cut off, almost completely failure when a nearby building collapsed —
dancing at her wedding. cut off,”“Dateline” quoted Dr. Gerald Gins- the surgeons worked to restore Marden-
Mardenfeld was brought into New berg as saying in the story “Saving a life and feld’s legs.
York University Downtown Hospital short- a bride.” The next day they found out the identi-
ly after the attack on the World Trade Cen- The trauma team concluded Marden- ty of the woman they had saved. When
ter. She had been hit by falling debris — feld’s legs needed to be amputated quickly Mardenfeld awoke, she whispered her
probably the landing gear of the first plane, to stem the loss of blood and save her life, name and phone number, “Dateline” re-
according to Pam McDonnell of the NYU the “Dateline” report continued. ported. Her fiancé, Greg St. John, answered
public affairs office. Orthopedic surgeon Nelson Botwinick the phone.
A member of the American Express urged the team to reconsider. An orthope- “I heard the word ‘fiancé,’”Ginsberg, di-
staff, Mardenfeld had just arrived to work dic specialist, he felt he could save Marden- rector of plastic surgery at NYU Downtown,
at the Trade Center when the first building feld’s legs.“I felt confident that I knew what told “Dateline.” “I said to myself, she’s going
collapsed. to do. . . I made the call,”he told People mag- to dance at her wedding on her own feet.”
Mardenfeld told “Dateline” about St.
John.“I have this amazing fiancé. He is one
Tom Varian ’98 | J.P. Morgan Chase Manhattan of those few special people in life that I
know I found a truly unique and vibrant
Banker’s Night Deposits person.”
Mardenfeld told the “Dateline” re-
porter that she had gone to work early the
TOM VARIAN ’98 WAS AT A business People donated goods at their local vol- morning of Sept. 11. “What I remember is
meeting in the Chase Bank in the mall be- unteer firehouses, like gloves, boots, food walking out of the subway into the street
neath the World Trade Center when it was and water. and seeing the top of one of the buildings
hit by terrorists, and he escaped safely. But Volunteers loaded the supplies onto the on fire and I said that can’t be true. And
within days he was back there, bringing flatbed truck, and Varian and Packes drove then I saw the other tower explode and I
much-needed supplies to rescue workers. it into Ground Zero. They got mayor’s knew I had to run for my life and that’s all I
Varian, who is a system vice president in badges, which provided the only access to remember,” she is quoted as saying in the
charge of small business accounts for J. P. Ground Zero. "There were 20 or 30 check- “Dateline” story.
Morgan Chase Manhattan, and his client points a night to get through," said Varian. “I can say I am so thrilled and so im-
Michael Packes, a volunteer firefighter who Once there, they gave the supplies to pressed with the people who have spent
owns a flatbed truck, organized a relief ef- workers through the American Red Cross time with me,” she told “Dateline” about
fort in their home area of Rockland County. and Salvation Army. the hospital staff. “They have changed my
They made the run for eight or nine life all for the better and I love them.”
days, hauling in 10 pallets 5 to 6 feet high A psychology major at Oswego, Mar-
each night. "We probably delivered half a denfeld was a member of Phi Lambda Phi
million to a million dollars of supplies," he sorority.
said. Mardenfeld is doing better and was still
Once the perimeters were closed to all in the hospital at press time, according to
but professional rescue workers and St. John. “It will be a very long and slow
welders, the supply runs stopped. The vol- process, but she is healing,” he said.
unteers were left with about 40 pallets of Her doctors spoke about Mardenfeld’s
goods in a warehouse. spirit and shared a telling story with “Date-
They donated it to “People for People” line” and People. The day after the surgery,
in Rockland County and other groups. Ginsberg said, she grabbed a tablet and
Varian, who earned a degree in busi- wrote “So doc, my butt is smaller?” Gins-
ness administration, was a member of berg told People: “She has the attitude to get
Sigma Gamma, where he was the little through this.”
Tom Varian ’98 (second from left) brother of Bob Bacon (see story, p. 2).
OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001 36
Liesel Scheuerman ’97 | Nexxt Health
To Have and to Hold
Brush with Death Inspires Life Together
or Liesel Scheuerman ’97 Sept. 11 ing is cancelled,’ then all of a sudden the walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, but she
F began in horror and ended in happi-
ness. After escaping from her office in 1
building moved — far. We heard an explo-
sion and saw stuff flying off the building.”
and her friend walked to the friend’s apart-
ment in mid-town.
World Trade Center, she returned home They ran through the smoke-filled Later that day Grand Central Station re-
and her boyfriend, Gregory Kipp ’99, pro- hallway to the stairs. “Everybody was really opened and she was able to take a train to
posed marriage. amazingly calm for New Yorkers on a stair- her apartment, where she found Kipp acting
“I proposed to her about an hour after case,” she said. World Trade Center staff as “contact point central for family and
she got home,” Kipp said. He had planned pulled the workers off the staircase onto a friends.” It had been about three hours after
to ask her to marry him at a later date, when floor and told them to wait, but Scheuer- the attack before she could get in contact
he’d saved the money to buy a ring. “But man decided to find another way down. with him via cell phone.
sometimes your schedule doesn’t coincide She and her co-workers were on that sec- Scheuerman had only worked in the
with reality,” he said. ond staircase when they heard a noise — World Trade Center since May, but was fond
“You shouldn’t wait for what’s impor- the other building was hit. of the place.“I loved working there. I got off
tant to you in life. I knew she was important Out on the street there was “mass hys- the subway in the morning and there was a
to me and what’s the sense of waiting?” teria,” Scheuerman said. She saw people fountain,” she said. She called the attack “a
Scheuerman began the day by telling tragic, horrible, awful, unspeakable thing I
Kipp she didn’t want to go to work.“Every- “You shouldn’t wait wish never happened.” But she realizes her
body feels that way now and then, I guess,” day had “a really nice ending. I’m so lucky.”
she said. for what’s important to Liesel’s parents are Louise and Bill
A coincidence may have saved her life. Scheuerman. Bill, a professor of political sci-
Her department at NexxtHealth, a sub-
you in life. I knew she ence at Oswego, is president of United Uni-
sidiary of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, has a was important to me versity Professions statewide. He was on his
meeting every Tuesday at 9 a.m. When she way to a meeting in Purchase when he heard
arrived at her 19th floor office Sept. 11, the and what’s the sense the news, turned the car around and headed
Spanish major now doing web-tech work back up the road to be with his wife in Os-
found the meeting was cancelled. “At 8:44, I
of waiting?” wego.
stood up to call to my co-worker,‘The meet- —Gregory Kipp ’99 Despite her experience, Liesel said, “I
love New York. I left the city in July and
wanted to move back . . . Now I have no
problem being in Westchester.”
Wherever she ends up, she’ll share that
home with Kipp, an economics major who
works in the financial offices of Reuters in
Although the pair knew each other
while they were students — his fraternity
and her sorority were connected — it was
Reunion Weekend 2000 that brought them
together. “We’ve been together ever since,”
There will be over 50 Oswego alumni at
the wedding.“All the people we socialize with
are alums,” said Scheuerman. When she
moved to New York City from Boston last
year, she had an apartment within two hours,
thanks to an Oswego alumna. “My mom
used to make jokes.‘You Oswego alums are so
tight.’ she’d say.” Scheuerman said, “It’s true.
Oswego was the best place ever.”
Gregory Kipp ’99 and Liesel Scheuerman ’97 will be wed in August.
37 OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001
Scott W. Stearns ’89 | Dow Jones Newswires
‘Two Front Teeth’
Stearns’ City Takes a One-Two Punch
hen I was 7 years old, my
W father took me to the ob-
servation deck of the brand new
World Trade Center, a pair of
towers my friends and I found
impressive because they were
taller than the Empire State
Building – until then the tallest
building in the city. That was
Today there’s a hole in the
ground where those magnificent
towers once stood. The terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11 simply wiped
them off the skyline. The de-
struction of the World Trade
Center, the killing that took place
there, snapped our cozy sense of
invulnerability and exposed our
innocence about the state of the
PHOTO BY RON GAESS
world. The swagger of the city
before Sept. 11 has given way to
tension about future attacks and
the numb pain of loss. New York
is nursing a scar. People here are Scott W. Stearns ’90 stands outside his office building in Jersey City, N.J. Across the water is the sec-
tion of lower Manhattan where the World Trade Center used to be.
The emotional toll came home to me ter was closed due to a “smoke condition,” grateful that neither I nor anyone I know
four days after the attacks. I was riding the which normally means a track fire — usu- was hurt or killed in the attack.
subway into Manhattan from my apart- ally nothing more than an inconvenience I believe New York will emerge from
ment in Brooklyn. As my train was crossing for passengers. So I was completely unpre- Sept. 11 stronger and more savvy about
the Manhattan Bridge, I could clearly see pared for what I found as I got off the train the dangers that have come to our shores.
the trade center site, heavy smoke still bil- at Rector Street, the stop before the trade But the price paid for that transformation
lowing from fires burning under the rub- center. The air was thick with ash and bits is too horrible to measure. Beyond the de-
ble. The conductor, his voice cracking with of paper falling from the sky like snow, struction of landmarks and the loss of life,
anger, said over the loudspeakers: “Ladies coating the street. Fire raged and black we pay by losing the life we knew. In the
and gentlemen, look to your left. Our city’s smoke poured from huge gashes where end, I’m left with the realization that we
two front teeth were knocked out.” That’s the planes had hit near the tops of both can never take anything for granted — not
how a lot of people in New York have taken towers. I could see people running, people the people we love, the feeling of security
this, like a personal assault. I feel a great deal in tears. I saw a burned-out car that looked within our own borders or even the con-
of pride toward New York, and somehow like it was hit by a bomb. Police and fire- veniences and splendor of a landmark
hearing the pained voice of a subway con- fighters were everywhere, directing people building.
ductor bemoaning this hit to one of our away from the area. — Scott W. Stearns ’89
treasured landmarks was more than I could When I’ve thought the worst, I’ve con- Scott Stearns ’89 graduated with a BA in
take. That was the first time I cried about sidered what might have happened if I’d English/Writing Arts. He is an editorial man-
the attack, right there on the subway. And I been running 20 minutes earlier that ager at Dow Jones Newswires in Jersey City,
wasn’t the only one. morning. The chilling fact is that I easily N.J., and is studying for an MBA degree at
For me, the morning of Sept. 11 start- could have been entering the buildings Fordham University in New York. He lives in
ed like any other. I was on my way to work. when they were hit. I know I’m one of the Brooklyn with his wife, Marlene Kilimnik-
As the subway approached Manhattan, we lucky ones. I was close enough to see Stearns ’89.
were told the stop at the World Trade Cen- things I never want to see again, but I’m
OSWEGO ● Fall/Winter 2001 38