Scott Walter Cahill
James Cahill was two blocks from ground zero on Sept. 11, close enough that when he ran out of his office building he could see the hole the first jet tore into the World Trade Center.
Two things came to mind: One was a sense of "devastation," he said.
The other was that his son was in there.
Scott Walter Cahill, 30, worked as a municipal bond broker for Cantor Fitzgerald. He is missing and presumed dead.
On Sept. 30, his family held a memorial service at St. Aloysius Church in Caldwell, N.J. Cahill, who was unmarried, lived with his dad, his mom, Linda, and his 9-year-old brother, Patrick.
"We were a pretty tight family," James Cahill said.
Scott Cahill sometimes took family vacations with his parents and younger brother. But he also liked to travel on his own, mostly on ski and snowboard vacations to Utah, British Columbia and Austria. No matter where he traveled, he made friends. According to his father, he could make conversation with anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Cantor Fitzgerald has announced it will distribute a percentage of profits for the next five years to the victims' families. The Cahills have set up a fund in their son's name to help pay for new science equipment at the local Catholic school.
"It keeps his spirit alive," James Cahill said.
After the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, Sean Rooney called his wife, Beverly Eckert, who was at work in Stamford, Conn. He left a message that he was OK in his office at Aon Risk Services in the south tower and planned to be there for a while, since they had secured the building.
Then a plane hit the south tower. Eckert had gone to the couple's Stamford home, where Rooney soon called. He told his wife he was trapped on the 105th floor of the burning building. He had made several attempts to escape--first trying to run down the stairs, only to be beaten back around the 76th floor by heat and smoke. Then he tried to access the observation deck just above his office, but couldn't because the door was locked.
Rooney, 50, was having difficulty breathing. The couple began talking about their life together and their love for each other.
"I heard him say, `I love you,' then I heard a terrible explosion and a roaring sound," Eckert said. "It sounded like Niagara Falls. I knew without seeing that he was gone."
The couple were together for 34 years, meeting in high school in their native Buffalo. Rooney, a vice president at Aon, enjoyed an array of sports, including golf, tennis and in-line skating. He was a gourmet cook, helped restore the couple's home and even built their kitchen table, his wife said. His acerbic wit was memorable, she added.
"There's no way I can summarize my feelings for Sean in a story or a thought," Eckert said. "There's really only one story: It's a love story and it lasted 34 years."
Stephen Patrick Cherry
Stephen Patrick Cherry was two weeks shy of his 42nd birthday when he disappeared in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, his family said.
The resident of Stamford, Conn., was a partner at Cantor Fitzgerald, though "he never boasted. You wouldn't have known it," said Rose Buchetto, a neighbor and friend of Cherry's. "His world was his four boys and his wife, Mary Ellen. They were recently back from a trip to Montana."
Cherry was born in New York City, attended the Kent School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. He was an avid golfer, especially when playing with his sons, Jeremy, Peter, Brett and Colton.
Cherry managed to call a colleague just moments after the first hijacked airliner smashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. He has not been heard from since.
Eddie Dillard dreaded flying, but it became a necessity in his life after he married an American Airlines flight attendant and developed a property investment business requiring constant travel.
Born in the South and raised in Gary, the 54-year-old recently relocated with his wife, Rosemary, to Virginia after many years in Seattle. After a 20-year career with Philip Morris USA, he retired as a sales manager in 1997 and launched his own business buying and selling rehabilitated properties. On Sept. 11, he was headed to Los Angeles on Flight 77 to check on some investments and then planned to visit his son in Oakland.
Dillard's family knew him as a strong man who could be counted on to keep his promises and voice his opinions.
"He was a news buff . . . he loved to watch the news and he read two newspapers every day," said his sister, Rosetta Heffner of Gary.
"If you talked to my brother, you had to come with the facts," she said. "He always had his opinion, but it was more often than not based on the facts."
Lt. Geoffrey Guja
Lt. Geoffrey Guja, 47, was on light duty at a Brooklyn fire station on Sept. 11, recovering from a previous injury. He wasn't required to respond to fires.
But when he heard the alarm for the World Trade Center, Guja and another lieutenant hopped on a subway and sped to the Twin Towers, where they geared up with another company. He was killed when the towers crumbled.
"He didn't have to go, but there was no stopping him. He died doing what he loved to do," said his wife, Debbie, of Lindenhurst, N.Y. Guja, who had worked for the New York City Fire Department for 13 years, also was a registered nurse part time at Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre, N.Y.
"He never talked about that part of his life, but so many people from the hospital came to his service and talked about what a good nurse he was and how much they all loved him," his wife said.
Others came from his former firehouse in the Bronx and told anecdotes about Guja's good-natured antics, which kept everyone's spirits up. After years of service in the Bronx, he was transferred as a "floating lieutenant" to Brooklyn's Battalion 43.
Guja's passion was his 43-foot houseboat, on which he would take his wife and stepdaughters Kelly and Jamie on a cruise to the Statue of Liberty every July 4.
Guja was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Massapequa, N.Y., with brothers Gary and Howard and sisters Patty and Judy. After graduation from Berner High School, he enrolled at the State University at Binghamton. He worked for the Long Island Lighting Co. for 15 years before becoming a firefighter. He got his nurse training while on the job.
Debbie Ramsaur, 45, of Annandale, Va., worked the last two years as a civilian secretary for the Pentagon's Office of Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel.
For 12 years before that, she had worked for the U.S. military in Germany, where she lived with her husband, John. They had two children, now 7 and 5.
When her husband heard about the attack on the Pentagon, he tried to reach his wife by cell phone but couldn't get through.
"When I learned where the plane had hit, I knew it was hopeless," said John Ramsaur, who works in telecommunications. "It went right directly to her office. She wouldn't have had a chance to survive it."
Debbie Ramsaur also leaves a mother and two brothers in Rochester, N.Y., her hometown.
"She's always worked hard at everything she did," he said. "She had her children late in life, but they were the best thing to ever happen to her; to both of us."
Tribune staff reporters Tracy Dell'Angela and Donna Freedman, and staff reporters from Tribune newspapers The Hartford Courant, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsday contributed to this report.