Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering our September 11th Heroes..

I signed up to be a part of the 2,996 project. We bloggers will be paying our respects and honor to those lost on September 11, 2001. My hero is: Jean Marie Wallendorf age 23. Place killed: World Trade Center. Resident of New York, N.Y. (USA). Jean Marie Wallendorf will be honored by Jarred Fishman at the blog Air Force Pundit. This was the 1913th blogger to sign up for the 2,996 Tribute project. She was a physically beautiful woman, and I am sure a beautiful woman on the inside as well. Jeanmarie Wallendorf 'The Strongest Person I Had Ever Met' She was only 23 years old, tiny at 5-foot-2 and 115 pounds, but there was nothing weak or fragile about Jeanmarie Wallendorf. "She was definitely by far the strongest person I had ever met in terms of her desire to succeed and her desire to be happy in life," said her boyfriend, Joseph Wald. Wallendorf was hired at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods six months ago as a liaison between the research and trading departments. With no college degree, her sheer will to succeed and innate intelligence got her where she was, Wald said. "You can't argue with someone who knows what they're talking about," he said. "And she made sure that she did." She had always been that way, said Wallendorf's mother, Christine Barton of Stuart, Fla. Wallendorf, known as "Jaime" to her friends, had been working since she was 15. "She could do anything," Barton said. "Anything." She lived in New York as a young child and grew up mostly in Jupiter, Fla. She moved back to the city three years ago, and Wald first met her when she got a receptionist job at the brokerage he owns, "When I first met her, my first impression was that she was a beautiful girl that seemed very sharp," he said. As she moved up in his company, getting into operations, he said, "I got to know her as someone I could rely on to get the job done ... one of the most reliable, hard-working people I've ever met." Then, when the two fell in love, "It was more incredible than I could ever imagine," Wald said. Wallendorf left Wald's company, and, a year and a half ago, the couple moved in together in Bay Ridge. "She was on her way to achieving all of her goals, in terms of her personal and relationship goals, as well as professionally," Wald said. "It wasn't something over the horizon. She had done all the hard work already. It was within her grasp." Still, Wald said, Wallendorf wasn't so driven that she couldn't relax. The couple made the most of New York City together, exploring its restaurants, clubs and lounges. A natural dancer, Wallendorf didn't mind if the music was country or hip-hop."She loved to have a good time," Wald said. "She was a very fun person." Her mother agreed. "She could be so serious, very professional, and then the next second, she could be like a dumb blonde" in the best possible way, she said, recalling with amusement a mix-up at a wedding Wallendorf attended in Aruba, where she ended up in the bride's gown by mistake. "It was like an 'I Love Lucy' show," she said. Barton, who was 17 when she gave birth to Wallendorf, said her oldest daughter sometimes felt like a mother to her. "She was my daughter when I worried about her. I was her daughter when she worried about me," she said. "But we were really friends. That's why it's been so hard for me." Hard also for Wallendorf's four younger siblings, Joseph, 19, Mellanie, 15, Christopher, 8, and John, 5. They idolized her, her mother said. Whenever there was a problem with one of them, "she would say, 'Do you want me to talk to them?' and she did," said Barton. "They listened to her because she knew how to speak to them." Since Sept. 11, when Wallendorf was lost from her office on the 89th floor of Tower Two, Barton said she has found herself gravitating toward the city. She's done the 20-plus-hour drive from Florida five times. She hasn't yet broken the news to her youngest children that their big sister won't be home for Christmas."There's a part of me that wants somebody to come to me and say, 'Jeanmarie's OK,'" she said. Wald is similarly bereft. He's been thinking about the classic question, "Is it better to have loved and lost..." "If I was asked that prior to this, I wouldn't have had an answer," he said. "But after this, I can say that it is infinitely better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. As terrible as things are now, I just know that my life is richer forever because of her and that relationship."

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