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From the archives: Gays among heroes, victims of Sept. 11
This piece ran in the Blade’s five-year anniversary issue in September 2006. It lists some of the known LGBT victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and shows that families of all types were affected by the terrible events of that tragic day. It also shows that many of the 9/11 heroes who saved countless lives were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Renee Barrett-Arjune, 41, was working in One World Trade Center at the time of the attacks. An accountant for Cantor Fitzgerald, she was able to escape the building prior to its collapse.
However, she suffered serious burns in the attack, and was hospitalized at Cornell-Presbyterian Hospital, where she died more than a month later on Oct. 18, 2001.
Barrett-Arjune had been a member of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. She left behind her partner, Enez Cooper, and her 18-year-old son, Eddie, who lived with them.
Graham Berkeley, 37, a native of England who lived in Boston, boarded United Airlines Flight 175 on Sept. 11, 2001, on his way to a conference in Los Angeles. He died when the plane became the second highjacked airliner to crash into the World Trade Center.
Berkeley’s parents, Charles and Pauline Berkeley, still live in England and watched the crash on television, although it took eight hours to confirm that their son had been on the plane.
“We had seen the fireball ourselves and knew to expect the worst,” Charles Berkeley told the London Mirror. “We watched our child die. He was a brilliant boy, a brilliant man.”
Graham Berkeley worked for Compuserve as product management director and was a professional violinist in Germany and England, the Advocate reported.
Gay rugby enthusiast Mark Bingham has been hailed as one of a small group of heroes who fought back against hijackers on United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. The flight was believed to have been headed to Washington, D.C., likely to attack another national landmark.
Bingham, 31, was a member of the San Francisco Fog, a gay rugby team, and planned to organize a rugby team for this year’s Gay Games in Sydney, Australia.
A tribute page hosted by the team includes an e-mail from Bingham after he had learned that the Fog had been accepted as a permanent member of the California Rugby Football Union.
“Gay men weren’t always wallflowers waiting on the sideline,” he said, applauding the team’s acceptance into the league. “We have the opportunity to let these other athletes know that gay men were around all along — on their little league teams, in their classes, being their friends.”
PAMELA J. BOYCE
Pamela J. Boyce, 43, was a resident of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, and worked on the 92nd floor of One World Trade Center as assistant vice president of accounting for the New York office of Carr Futures.
Catherine Anello, Boyce’s partner, told the New York Times that Boyce was a no-nonsense person who wouldn’t want her loved ones to be overcome by grief.
“If there was someone who lost a loved one and had been grieving too long, so that they were not living their life, she would say, ‘Stop. It’s not what they would want. They are in a better place.’” Anello said, “She said, ‘I’m not afraid to die because I know where I am going is beautiful.’”
DAVID REED GAMBOA BRANDHORST
When Daniel Brandhorst and Ronald Gamboa changed their flights so they could return to Los Angeles from Boston on Sept. 11 with adopted son, David, they had no idea of the tragedy that would await them.
Brandhorst and Gamboa had met 13 years ago at a party. Family friend Donato Tramuto told the New York Times Gamboa “could make a rainy day look happy.” Meanwhile, Scott Pisani, a fellow employee at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, said Brandhorst “made a tremendous amount of time for his family” after David was born, and would often take the toddler to work.
David, 3 at the time of his death, was adopted at birth by Gamboa and Brandhorst. Brandhorst, 41, worked an accountant for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Gamboa, 33, was the manager of a Gap store. They were on United Airlines Flight 175.
David Charlebois, 39, first officer on American Airlines Flight 77, which collided into the Pentagon after being hijacked by terrorists, died while flying one of his standard routes.
Charlebois lived near the District’s popular Dupont Circle neighborhood with his partner of 14 years, Tom Hay, and their border collie, Chance.
He began his career as a pilot for corporate executives and later worked as a pilot for U.S. Airways. He joined American Airlines a decade ago, where he served as first officer, or co-pilot, flying mostly transcontinental routes out of Dulles International Airport.
Hay said Charlebois’ loyalty to his friends, family, and community was rivaled only by his love for flying.
“He always wanted to be a pilot,” Hay said.
Charlebois was an active member of the National Gay Pilots Association and had worked quietly within his company as an advocate for rights of gay employees, including gay pilots.
Eugene Clark, 47, observed “the three D’s: dance, drama and divas,” according to the New York Times. His partner of 13 years, Larry Courtney, said Clark had grown up listening to Roberta Flack, loved Broadway musicals and could dance “like Tina Turner… and he had legs almost as good.”
Clark worked for the Aon Corporation as an administrative assistant, but it was his time away from the office that he enjoyed most. He had converted a 10-foot by 24-foot concrete-slab patio into a thriving terrace garden.
He also “adored the musicals ‘Miss Saigon’ and ‘Les Miserables,’ cooked Southern-style fried cabbage, and collected Waterford crystal decanters and vases,” the Times reported.
Jeffrey Collman, 41, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, died when the hijacked jet slammed into the North World Trade Center tower in the first attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
A three-year employee of American Airlines, Collman had changed to the Boston-Los Angeles route from his normal Boston-San Francisco flights in order to prepare for an upcoming vacation.
Keith Bradkowski, Collman’s partner, had last heard from him the evening prior to the crash, when Collman called to talk about their upcoming trip, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Collman received the American Professional Flight Attendant Award in 1999. In addition to Bradkowski, the Illinois native was survived by one sister and four brothers.
Luke Dudek and his partner of 20 years, George Cuellar, had dreamt of buying a building to house their high-end floral design store.
On Sept. 11, 2001, that dream finally became a reality. But Dudek, 50, wasn’t there to celebrate, according to Newsday.com.
Dudek was working as a food and beverage controller at Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of One World Trade Center, that morning, when terrorist planes struck the building.
Dudek’s partner, George Cuellar, continues to run the flower shop he operated with Dudek for 16 years. He said the couple had no regrets in life.
“Everything we did, we did with love,” Cuellar told Newsday. “He’ll always be my best friend. I feel very protected by him. And I always did.”
James Joe Ferguson, director of geography education outreach for the National Geographic Society, was on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon. Ferguson was traveling on a National Geographic-sponsored educational field trip to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary off Santa Barbara, Calif.
Ferguson, 39, was accompanying a colleague, three teachers, and three sixth-grade students, all from Washington, on the trip.
Ferguson lived on Capitol Hill for 10 years with Winston, his wire-haired fox terrier. He was one of the principal architects who designed the infrastructure of geography education, which resulted in the improvement of geography education throughout the United States, according to National Geographic.
“Ultimately, what he did touched over 150,000 students and teachers — and that is just one person,” said Ed Kaczmarek, a friend of Ferguson’s for 14 years.
Carol Flyzik, a 40-year-old registered nurse and a member of the Human Rights Campaign, was on American Airlines Flight 11 on her way to California when her plane became the first to crash into the World Trade Center.
Flyzik was a marketing supervisor for Meditech, a software company that serves the medical community. She was headed to California on a business trip at the time.
She left behind a partner of nearly 13 years, Nancy, as well as three stepchildren whom she cared for as her own.
University Park, Md.
Sheila Hein, an analyst, was working for the U.S. Army’s management and budget office in the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into it.
Hein, 51, lived with her partner of 17 years, Peggy Neff, in University Park, Md. They bought a house there seven years ago as a “fixer-upper” and turned the backyard into their “own private park,” Neff told the Washington Post. “She is what this yard is. There’s a whole lot of love here,” Neff said.
Hein worked at the Pentagon for the last five years as a visual information specialist for the Army and had only recently changed jobs. She was at the Pentagon that day taking part in an Army internship, studying manpower analysis. A native of Springfield, Mass., she joined the Navy after high school and was sent to Virginia. She spent 10 years in the service as a photographer, married twice, and ventured into a career in computer graphics, working on government contracts.
Hein received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia Union College three years ago after taking courses on and off for 20 years. “She decided it was time to finish it,” Neff told the Post. She planned to get a master’s degree.
New York City Fire Department Chaplain Mychal Judge was killed during the collapse of the World Trade Center towers while administering last rites to a dying firefighter. Fellow firefighters carried his body to St. Peter’s Church and then back to the firehouse.
Judge, 68, had been a Catholic chaplain for the New York City Fire Department since 1992. “Father Mike,” as the gay priest was known, was laid to rest in a memorial service attended by more than 3,000 and presided over by Cardinal Edward M. Egan.
Judge was also a “longtime member” of Dignity/USA, according to the Web site of the organization for “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, our families and friends.”
WILLIAM ANTHONY KARNES
William Anthony Karnes and his partner, John Winter, could see Karnes’ office at Marsh & McLennon on the 97th floor of One World Trade Center from the home they shared.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the 37-year-old Karnes left for the office as usual at 8:30 a.m. The “commute,” which took about 11 minutes, would be his last. At 8:45, Winter heard what sounded like a thunder, and immediately looked out his apartment window.
“At that point, I knew probably a lot of hope was lost that I’d ever see him again,” Winter told LGNY. “Death doesn’t discriminate. Death actually transcends sexual orientation.”
John Keohane, 41, worked at One Liberty Plaza near the World Trade Center and died when the towers collapsed. After the planes hit the Trade Center towers, Keohane met Mike Lyons, his partner of 17 years, on the street, and called his mother from his cell phone.
“They were just in the streets like everybody else,” his sister, Darlene Keohane, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “As he was talking, he had thought a third plane crashed into the building.”
What Keohane thought was a third crash was really the collapse of the South tower of the World Trade Center. While Lyons survived, Keohane was killed by falling debris.
A native of San Francisco, Keohane had lived in the New York area for a year. Distraught over Keohane’s death, Lyons committed suicide on March 1.
Michael Lepore’s friends now take care of his rosebushes and plants in the garden that had been his pride and joy.
“We used to say nothing bad could ever happen here,” Lepore’s partner of 18 years, David O’Leary, told the New York Times. “And it’s still the most important thing. It’s where I see most of Michael.”
Lepore, 39, was a project analyst at Marsh & McLennan. He shared a home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Edgar Tafel, with O’Leary and their three cocker spaniels, and the couple was in the midst of helping to plan Lepore’s youngest brother’s wedding.
O’Leary said, a month prior to the attacks, their house had been bustling with friends and family.
“Everything was so perfect in our lives,” he said. “Just so perfect.”
Patricia McAneney, 50, always wanted to be a firefighter. While she never actually became one, she did serve as fire marshal for the floor in One World Trade Center where her employer, Guy Carpenter insurance company, had its offices.
Her friends and partner remembered her for her honesty.
“If one of us committed a crime, Pat would be the last person we could go to because she would turn you in,” McAneney’s partner of nearly 20 years, Margaret Cruz, told the New York Times. “She said she might give me a few hours’ head start.”
Wesley Mercer, the vice president of corporate security for Morgan Stanley, was generally a quiet man. But his partner, Bill Randolph, told the New York Times that Mercer also could be a leader during a crisis.
That’s what he did on Sept. 11, 2001. The World Trade Center towers fell as Mercer helped evacuate other employees
“It put a hole in my stomach,” Randolph told the paper. “But I knew that’s what he would have done.”
Mercer, who was divorced and had two daughters, became a security officer after serving in the military, and was known for his formal style. “He always thought the way he carried himself was important,” Randolph said.
PHILIP “ROXY EDDIE” OGNIBENE
“Roxy Eddie” Ognibene, a member of the Renegades of New York’s Big Apple Softball League, was killed last Sept. 11 while working as a bond trader for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods on the 89th floor of Two World Trade Center, according to Outsports.com.
Ognibene, 39, was considered by his friends to be “a strong lefty hitter, a flawless first baseman,” and a solid pitcher and outfield player, the gay sports Web site reported. Those who knew him said his sense of humor was contagious, and just to see him was to laugh out loud.
Although his work often left him too busy to pursue outside hobbies, Ognibene had a love of softball and had just recently joined the league. During one particularly nasty practice, which occurred in the middle of a downpour, Ognibene was the last to leave the field.
“I don’t care,” he said, friend Ben Moon recounted to Outsports. “I just love to play softball.”
Catherine Smith, 44, worked on the 92nd floor of the first World Trade Center tower as a vice president for Marsh & McLennon when tragedy struck last Sept. 11.
Smith and her partner of six years, Elba Cedeno, considered themselves very similar to Pepe Le Pew and Penelope from the Looney Tunes cartoons, according to the New York Times. “They had known each other, in passing, for 20-odd years, both frequenting the same bar,” the paper reported. Later, when both had ended other relationships, they officially met.
The two were together for six years.
“This was my soul mate. We planned to live the rest of our lives together and retire together,” Cedeno said.
From staff and wire reports
Tagged with 9/11, Sept 11 2001
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