11 September 2006
In Honor of Patricia Massari
Nearly 3000 people died as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Every single one of them had family and friends and neighbors, all affected by a life that was cut short. Every one of those victims had a name.
One of those people was Patricia A. Cimaroli Massari. On September 11th, 2001, she was 25 years old and working as a capital analyst for Marsh & McLennan on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center, Tower One. As mentioned in her New York Times Portraits of Grief profile, she had two important tests that day. In the evening, she was going to take a test in world civilization at Berkeley College where she was studying for Bachelors in Business Administration degree. And in the morning before work, she took a home pregnancy test, and got to inform her husband Louis that they were expecting their first child (read more in this profile at the MMC employee memorial). Surprised by the positive result, she stopped to get another test on her way to work, and was talking to her husband about it on the phone when the tower was hit. Her husband not only lost his wife that day, he lost his first chance at fatherhood. Her parents, Richard and Anna Cimaroli (who appeared on Larry King in 2002, transcript here) lost a daughter and a potential grandchild. The tribute page at MMC features a poem from her husband, along with this heart-wrenching quote:
“I would switch spots with her tomorrow,” he said. “Because then our family could go on.”
Because of the circumstances – that unborn child growing in her womb – she has been featured in many stories and TV shows and at least one book. Her story is memorable and tugs at your heart strings. But even beyond this memorable aspect, there is more to Patricia Massari, more we should remember.
I found two more pictures of her on various web sites.
As her dad said, she had a million-dollar smile. You can certainly see that smile in the pictures. When I look at these pictures, I see a happy, vivacious woman. And vivacious she was, it seems. Glendale, NY, renamed part of a street in her honor (search Google Maps for “Catalpa Ave & 64th St, Queens, NY 11385″ to see it – but note that the map still shows the old name). According to this Times News Weekly news story about the event:
“The unselfish, always happy Cimaroli-Massari, 25, was known for her beautiful smile, infectious laugh and the twinkle in her eye. Friends and family used to call her ‘The Mayor’ because this extreme cat lover had so many friends in her neighborhood.”
She already had an associate’s degree from Berkeley College, and had returned to pursue a BBA. Earlier that year, in May 2001, she had been named the College’s Alumna of the Year. Because of her connection to the school, her family set up a scholarship in her name, as described in this news story. Her parents and husband are shown here with the first recipient and the 2005 recipient is shown in this press release from the college. I don’t know if the scholarship is still accepting donations, but the first two articles have an address for the fund.
Although I never knew Patricia Cimaroli Massari, I feel honored to remember her life by participating in the 2996 project. When I first learned about the project, I started looking at the 9/11 Victims Memorial Quilt (my mom is a quilter, and I’ve made blocks for a couple quilts honoring friends and family). I suppose you could say I was doing ‘vanity surfing’, by searching for names I know (including my own first name). This one in particular caught my eye. The woman’s first name is Patricia, and I noticed that it mentioned “and unborn child”. (I noticed later that the number for her block is 1997, the year my first child was born.) I wanted to know her story, so I asked to be assigned this person. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this woman – Patricia Massari, Trish to friends and family – had been profiled on TV shows and a book (titled 102 Minutes) and numerous newspaper articles. As I did research and her story unfolded, I felt humbled. I worried that I couldn’t do her story justice. But how can those of us who never met these people really do them justice? How can we know of the passion that moved them through life, the things that brought them joy, the things that made them laugh? We can’t. We can’t tell their entire story. We can’t capture the essence of the person. We can direct you to other sources as I have done here, each capturing a tiny bit. But what we can do is help keep alive their memory by knowing their names.