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Hagerstown woman lost father when Twin Towers fell

September 03, 2011|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Margaret "Marge" Mathers, left, and her daughter, Marjorie Kane of Hagerstown, lost their husband and father, Charles "Chuck" William Mathers, in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

For several years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Marjorie Kane of Hagerstown wrote on a Post-It note what her husband, Gregory "Greg" Kane, was wearing in the morning before he left for work, down to the color of his socks.

She remembers all too well what her mother, Margaret "Marge" Mathers, went through trying to deduce from her husband's closet what he was wearing on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed two airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City.

Marge's husband of 39 years, Charles "Chuck" William Mathers, died that day in his office on the 99th floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower. He was one of 2,977 victims of the attacks, including 2,753 at the World Trade Center.

"The details in life that weren't on my radar before ...," daughter Marjorie said.

Marjorie also didn't fly for a while after 9/11, but realized her father wouldn't have wanted that to be her response.

"I can be strong because of the way he raised me. This would be his expectation, that I would continue to be a strong educator and a strong woman. All those characteristics he valued so highly — perseverance and courage — I take that with me each day," Marjorie said.

Chuck Mathers worked for Marsh & McLennan Companies, a global risk-management firm, as a managing director. He and Marge raised their three children in Sea Girt, N.J., a community on the Jersey Shore.

"They had an amazing marriage," Marjorie said.

Chuck traveled 60 percent of the time, both in the United States and internationally, and commuted to Manhattan the rest of the time. The days he went to his New York office, he left home about 5:15 a.m. after kissing his wife goodbye in the dark, leaving her to sleep.

 "It was a wonderful life we had. He was very special to me," Marge, 70, said in a telephone interview from Texas, where she now lives.

The second Tuesday of each month at 9:30 a.m., Chuck convened a meeting of his managers from around the United States, his daughter said. In September 2001, the day of that meeting was Sept. 11.

Chuck was one of 295 Marsh & McLennan employees who died in the World Trade Center attack, along with 60 business associates, according to the company's history at www.mmc.com. A tribute to those employees is at www.memorial.mmc.com.

The company established a memorial at its uptown location. Marjorie describes it as a beautiful garden with the signatures of each employee who died etched into a clear glass memorial.

"I can run my fingers across it. It's very personal and quiet," she said of the memorial the Kanes visit each fall.

Marge said she received an email about a month ago from the company letting her know that her husband's group, the Energy Group, was naming an award in Chuck's memory, one that recognizes dedication to the client.

"He was dedicated to the clients' needs," Marge said.

The traveling required by Chuck's job involved some risk. His family members worried when they heard news of a plane crash, and they thought he was safest when he was in his New York office, even though that's where he was when a car bomb exploded in the World Trade Center parking garage in 1999.

"He felt very strongly about living his life, not letting that threat influence his life. My dad loved his life, his wife, his family, his job. He lived every day to the fullest," Marjorie said.

"The last place we envisioned this happening was in the safety of his own office."

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