‘Don’t Mourn My Death, Celebrate My Life’
Families are holding funerals and memorial services for the victims of last week’s terrorist attacks, even as the search continues in the rubble of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The death toll is expected to reach into the thousands in New York, at the Pentagon and in western Pennsylvania, where the last of four hijacked airliners crashed. Here are more profiles of the dead and missing:
Two weeks ago, Pamela Boyce and her partner of 6 1/2 years, Catherine Anello, talked of the inevitable for no particular reason, unaware of how soon it would come.
“Her direct quote was, ‘Don’t mourn my death, celebrate my life,’ ” Anello said. “She’s been saying for years, ‘I’m not afraid to die, because where I’m going is beautiful.’ ”
Last week, Boyce, 43, of Brooklyn, was at work on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower when it was struck by a hijacked airliner.
Anello described Boyce as driven by personal goals.
While working full time as assistant vice president of accounting for financial services firm Carr Futures Inc., Boyce maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average at night school, graduating in May with an associate’s degree in accounting from Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn. She planned to go on for bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Anello said.
“Once she put her mind to it, that was it,” Anello said. “I used to get tired watching her come home and study after a full day of work.”
Still, Boyce had plenty of energy left over for friends.
“During the summer, we were always at the beach. She loved to get a tan and relax,” Anello said. “Or we’d go to a friend’s house and hang out poolside and celebrate whatever was going on.”
Boyce also is survived by her mother, Laura Alessi of South Amboy, N.J.; her father, Noel Boyce of Port Charlotte, Fla.; two sisters, Desiree of South Amboy, N.J., and Gina of Jamesburg, N.J.; and two nieces and a nephew.
The call for help went out and emergency medical technician Yamel Merino, 24, responded, becoming one of the first rescue workers to enter the burning World Trade Center.
“She worked any time, anywhere,” said Al Kim, director of MetroCare Ambulance Group. “She was the first wave. She was ready to go.”
Kim said Merino’s energy helped her rise through the company’s ranks of about 2,000 workers, advancing over five years from nonemergency transports to the 911 unit.
That dedication, and what Kim called a “magnetic personality,” won Merino honors among her peers: She was named MetroCare’s EMT of the year last year.
Yet her dedication also brought her to a stairwell of the World Trade Center on the morning of the attacks, where she was helping the injured and the exhausted when the tower collapsed.
Merino, who was buried Friday, is survived by her 8-year-old son, Kevin Villa; her mother, Anna Jager; her father, Fernando Merino; brothers Bryant and Leslie Jager; and sisters Gabriella Sierra and Vianca Jager.
Gerald F. Hardacre
This is how his family remembers him: as a man who could make you laugh until you cried. A man who loved to fish and to play golf and who could, in moments of stress and sadness, lift the spirits of others.
Gerald F. Hardacre’s family could use him now.
“It leaves a big hole,” said his older brother, Larry.
Hardacre, 62, was returning from visiting a daughter in Boston when United Airlines Flight 175 was hijacked and flown into the trade center’s south tower. A memorial was held Tuesday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Carlsbad, Calif., where Hardacre had lived for 20 years.
The son of a Navy man, Hardacre spent his early childhood traveling the world before the family settled in San Diego. After graduating from San Diego State University, he became an environmental engineer and was a founding member of the San Diego Industrial Environmental Assn.
Hardacre’s family said he had a gift for weaving sad stories, often about himself, into great yarns. Born with a bad foot, Hardacre walked with a limp and liked to tell of the childhood Boy Scout hiking trip on which he arose at 4 a.m. to get a head start. “They would catch up to him and give him lunch. Then they’d pass him. Then he would catch up to them after dinner. Then he would go to bed and do it all over again,” his brother said. “The way Gerry tells that story, with him limping off in the distance . . . it used to make me laugh so hard there would be tears rolling down my face.”
In addition to his brother, Hardacre is survived by his wife, Judy, and his daughters, Kristen Hunter and Colleen Hardacre.
A London resident and business strategy consultant, Waleed Iskandar died aboard American Airlines Flight 11 en route to visit his parents in Los Angeles.
Iskandar, 34, was born in Beirut and came to the United States in 1984 to attend Stanford University, where he graduated in 1989 with degrees in industrial engineering and computer science.
Iskandar joined Monitor Group, a consulting firm, in Boston in 1990, where he worked while he earned an MBA at Harvard Business School.
Partha Bose, a partner at Monitor Group, described Iskandar as a warm and outgoing man, a gourmet and a world traveler who was as comfortable entertaining friends at home as he was navigating the international business world.
“He was a highly talented professional, a consummate professional,” Bose said. “He was a gifted thinker and a valued colleague. His strong character and memory will always be with us.”
Iskandar’s family declined to comment.
As the firm’s London-based chief of digital strategy for Europe, Iskandar’s work took him around the world. His most recent trip was to Greece, although that was a vacation to plan his July wedding, Bose said. A yoga and cycling enthusiast, Iskandar was fluent in English, French and Arabic.
He is survived by his parents, Joseph and Samia, of Los Angeles; his fiancee, Nicolette Cavaleros, of London; his sister, May Marconet, of Los Angeles; his brother, Sany, of Sudbury, Mass.; and six nieces and nephews.
Marlyn Carmen Garcia
Marlyn Carmen Garcia was nothing if not meticulous. In a bedroom she shared with sister Tonia, 17, in her parents’ Brooklyn apartment, it’s easy to tell which side Marlyn slept on.
Her bed is carefully made up with dozens of stuffed Tweety Birds carefully arranged on top. “Each one had its place,” said Tonia. “You could move a Tweety and she’d say, ‘Why is this there?’ ”
The former high school valedictorian and prom queen had even laid out part of her outfit for Sept. 12: a charcoal Tommy Hilfiger hooded sweater with a matching pullover to go underneath.
Garcia, 21, also always took great care to respond to e-mail. Every day she would write something on the computer, which is set up with a Tweety Bird mouse pad in a corner of the bedroom.
“I hope I get to see you Tuesday,” she wrote to her favorite uncle, Dhido Cano, before going to sleep about 11 p.m. on Sept. 10. “I’m going into work a little late because I want to vote.”
The day of the World Trade Center disaster was also the scheduled day of New York’s mayoral primaries, and Garcia cared deeply about politics. A file clerk at Marsh USA Inc. on the 100th floor of the center’s north tower and a full-time college student, she dreamed of graduating and working toward her master’s degree.
Garcia’s father, Hector, said his daughter recently told him that she was writing a letter for each member of the family. “But we have checked all over her room and we can’t find anything,” he said. The family plans to contact Microsoft Corp. to obtain Marlyn’s computer password in hopes that the letters are stored in the hard drive.
Times staff writers Seema Mehta, Booth Moore and Kimi Yoshino contributed to this report.