I posted a blog about the folks we lost on 9/11 a while back. It was before I moved the blog over to WordPress and I can’t find it anymore. That saddens me because I tried to remember the best stories I could and my memory generally sucks as it is, so after 7 years it only gets worse.
Regardless, I’ll try to remember my thoughts.
We usually say that CS STARS lost 12 people that day, but in truth CS STARS didn’t exist in 2001. Back then we were Marsh Risk Technologies, a division of Marsh. It wasn’t even entirely STARS. The areas that are now a part of STARS really lost 10 people. These are the folks I knew (I knew the other two, but not well).
These are the stories that come to mind as I think of them:
Scott Bart: First alphabetically and the closest person to me. Scott was the first manager of CSG. He created the business and was a perfect fit for it. Brilliant, loud, incredibly dedicated. We usually talked early in the morning before most folks were in. He would often not be wearing shoes.
The best work line that ever came out of Scott’s mouth was the night before a STARS client conference. He was explaining the CSG group to the rest of the STARS folks because it was a fairly new thing. He said something like, “we’re the prostitutes of STARS, we’ll do anything if the client pays for it”. Vintage Scott. He shocked some folks because he had no filter when he talked. But he was smart and always delivered. We talked about the ring he was going to buy his girlfriend and about the house they were going to buy. I went to his wedding about a month before 9/11. There are a million more stories. Just a great guy.
Michele Coyle: Michele hired me at J&H back in the day. A “one L” Michele, she was a motherly development manager. I was completely unqualified when she hired me, but they gave that programmer test back then and I did ace that. Oh yeah, and I knew Bob Petrie, that might have helped a bit.
Michele and I went through the transition of one reporting to the other and then switching as I rose up. It was never an issue. One of the sweetest people you would meet and the mother of three boys. She became a contractor so she could work only 4 days a week and spend an extra day at home. If there’s anyone that I ever thought “why not me instead of her?” on 9/11 it was about Michele.
Mike D’Esposito and Peter Klein: I have to list them together because they always were. They started STARS Audit (then called TrendTracker). They were it. Peter was first and then Mike came along. Peter was super smart and a bit of an ass (I mean that in a nice way). Mike was always the nice guy. They did everything together. They were always in early so our one hope for them was that they might have gone down to the lobby of the Trade Center for a bacon/egg/cheese sandwich when the plane hit. Unfortunately that would not be the case.
Chris Dunne: Our first head of QA. A super nice guy and one of the ones I miss the most, so I’m surprised I can’t remember more good stories. He got nicknamed “Khakis” because that’s all he wore. Just a big, tall, lovable guy.
Leah Oliver: One of the ones I knew the least. She had just started a month ago and she was in Service so I didn’t work with her. Very young, very nice, very unfair…
Mark Rosenberg: Another one who had just started, but one I knew fairly well. He was a talker and an early morning person. He was amazingly intellectually curious. He just loved figuring things out. That is a lot like me, so we got along well.
My favorite story about him concerned the hot dog stand outside the World Trade Center. Mark was an orthodox Jew and the hot dog stand was kosher. Mark loved hot dogs, so he had a vested interest in the hot dog stand’s success (it was a pretty convenient kosher meal). But the stand always had a huge line because they had the worst process in the world. They were making one hot dog at a time. This is New York, you can’t do that.
So Mark watched and analyzed the process. He finally went up to the owner and explained exactly how many hot dogs he should have cooking at any time to achieve optimal hot dog throughput. The guy adopted his process and business boomed. Mark was so proud telling this story…
Brock Safronoff: A very smart guy and one of the early STARS Web guys. He got married the same day as Scott Bart (one month prior to 9/11) which was a potential conflict for the team. But only Tim Cope was invited to both and I think he actually managed to start out at one and end up at the other.
Jeff Weiner: Jeff was the head of Service for the NY region. A super smart guy and a ridiculously hard worker. I’m struggling to remember good stories which is a shame because there were plenty.
Jennifer Wong: I didn’t know her very well because she was a relatively new person in Service. We were actually very confused about her status on 9/11 because she was very smart. She was on vacation the week before and told her clients that she’d be back on the 12th, but that was so that she would have one day free from phone calls when she got back on the 11th.
The thing about the STARS team in New York was that most folks arrived late. It was a typical developer team that would rather get in at 10 and work late. But there was a small group that consistently got in early. Take the list above and add Tim Cope and myself and you have the early crew. Tim was on a business trip and I was with my wife taking her father to the doctor the morning of 9/11. So while there was a lot of uncertainty at the time regarding who was lost, it was pretty clear to me because the same people were always there at 8:46. And nobody made it from the 96th floor.
We will always remember them.