Editor’s Note: For the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, The Heights reached out to the families and friends of the 22 Boston College graduates who lost their lives in the attacks.
We were able to reach the family or friends of six of the graduates. We regret not being able to reach friends or relatives of the other 16. We invite you to learn more about the other alumni in our archives.
Marc Landy, a professor of political science at Boston College, was watching the news on a clunky TV in his doctor’s office when American Airlines Flight 11 first hit the north tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
It’s hard to capture the feeling on campus that day, he said. But one thing that sticks out in his memory is a sense of devastation that permeated campus. At a vigil held that day on O’Neill Quad, sobs rang out.
“Hundreds and hundreds of people were there and the most moving thing, the saddest thing of all, was hearing people in the audience weeping because they lost somebody,” Landy said.
Peter Krause, an associate professor of political science at BC, was a senior at Williams College at the time and had just finished an internship at the World Trade Center in August of 2001. He came to BC eleven years after 9/11 and in his classes on international relations of the Middle East, terrorism, and political violence, the topic of 9/11 often comes up.
Every year, Krause said he asks his students how old they were when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. When he first started at BC, his students had memories of the attacks, but Krause said his students this year Krause were either not alive yet or were very young.
Although most students at BC learned about Sept. 11 growing up, Krause said not having lived through the event makes a difference. This generation of students is “not scarred or impacted in the same way” that others were.
When discussing Sept. 11 in his classes, Krause said he tries to create a personal connection with the students and go beyond the statistics.
“I think the story of Welles Crowther is a really important one for the BC community because I think BC students can see themselves in Welles, right?” Krause said. “He was in your exact position … trying to figure out what he wanted to do in life … and then having something like this strike out of nowhere, and yet responding with tremendous courage and heroism to help those around him and embodying so many of Boston College values in doing so.”
It’s personal stories that let people best form emotional connections to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Krause said.
Here are some of those stories.
Tom Brennan, BC ’91, was defined by music.
“He would love to belt songs out loud,” Rob Saville, BC ’91, said. “He would sing horribly, but he would sing them nonetheless and he would enact, you know, the movements of whoever it was, whether it was Jerry Garcia playing, you know, guitar, or Axl Rose from Guns N’ Roses swaying and singing on a microphone.”
After initially meeting at Chaminade High School in Mineola, N.Y., Saville reunited with Brennan on the same floor of Duchesne East their first year at BC.
Both were from Long Island, N.Y., but their time together at Chaminade was cut short after Brennan transferred to a public high school his junior year.
Saville got to know Brennan through his taste in music.
“Even when he was exercising he would be wearing his Grateful Dead attire and he had, you know, psychedelic wall art,” Saville said.
After a fun first year, the two decided to room together. Brennan and Saville went on to live in Walsh 305, off-campus, and then Mod 14B in the following years.
As a junior, Brennan took advantage of off-campus life, Saville said.
“We loved to have parties on the roof, which the landlord was not too fond of,” he said. “But we managed to have fun, be safe, but we would be on the roof, music playing really loud, really just having a great time.”
After graduation, Brennan stuck close to his roommates. The group would go on road trips, come back to BC for football games, and meet for annual Christmas parties.
Saville also attended Brennan’s wedding.
Brennan married Jennifer Gentile in 1997. In 2000, his daughter, Catherine, was born.
Brennan, 32 at the time, was working at Sandler O’Neill on the 104th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, according to the Thomas Brennan Memorial Foundation website. Gentile was pregnant with Brennan’s son, Thomas Jr., when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south tower at 9:03 a.m.
Brennan’s friends and family created the Thomas Brennan Memorial Foundation in his honor, which distributes a select number of scholarships to BC students each year and supports causes Brennan cherished during his lifetime.
Brennan, Saville said, was one to always give back.
“He was very, very happy, and very much passionate about his family,” Saville said.
Edward Papa’s smile was unforgettable. He was also a generous man who made friends everywhere he went, according to his daughter, Liz Papa Simons.
“When you think of my dad, everyone always thinks about his smile and his warmth and just his generosity and his love of life and music,” Liz said. “He was just like the guy that was everyone’s best friend, and everyone will tell you he was their best friend.”
Papa, BC ’76, lived in Oyster Bay on Long Island with his wife, Patricia, and his four daughters—Michelle, Maggie, Kacee, and Liz. He worked in the World Trade Center as a vice president of Cantor Fitzgerald.
Liz said her father provided a wonderful childhood full of support and love.
“He was just very supportive, very loving, very encouraging, and you know, we were a bunch of girls and there’s a lot of drama that can occur in a family of girls and there wasn’t any,” Liz said. “He always made sure that we loved each other, we looked out for each other, [and] he taught us to do all those things.”
Though Papa was a busy man who commuted to the city for work everyday, he always made time for his family, Liz said.
“Sometimes he would get home from work and basically immediately get in the car and sit at my [basketball] practices for like two or three hours and then drive me home and he had no time for himself, but he never complained about that,” Liz said. “… He was always around as much as he could be.”
Liz said her father had lasting connections at BC, and remembers going to Martha’s Vineyard every summer with his old BC friends and their families.
“I grew up going to summer vacation with all of my dad’s BC friends and their kids, and so there’s just been this whole second family that we’ve had, which has been amazing because they’re still very present in our lives. They were a big part of our healing process,” she said. “If it wasn’t for BC, then we wouldn’t have had all of that.”
Between his junior year and senior year at college, Papa married Patricia. According to Liz, by the time her father graduated, her mother was a de facto BC graduate given the amount of time she spent with her husband.
While at BC, Papa was an English major, and retained a life-long love of literature, Liz said.
“We still have in our house all of his books that he read while in Boston College,” she said. “… But I remember there was this whole kind of bookshelf dedicated to all of the work he did, or all the books he had because he loved them. He saved them with his name in them for many years.”
Beyond a love for English, Papa loved cooking, playing golf, and music. He learned to play guitar during his time at BC.
Liz said that her father’s legacy lives on with his family. Each family member, she said, tries to honor him in their own way.
“We all do it in our own different ways, sort of how we connected with our dad … and then how we kind of express that in our own ways through either how we’re raising our families or living our lives, and we know he’d be proud of all of us,” Liz said.
Patrick M. Aranyos cared passionately for his family and those around him.
“Patrick was just a really warm person,” Stephanie Aranyos, BC ’00, said. “He was genuinely happiest when he was with his family and friends. You could feel that warm and welcoming nature from him whenever you were around him.”
Aranyos, BC ’97, was born in the Netherlands. His family moved around several times before eventually settling in Jupiter, Fla.
When he wasn’t busy studying marketing and finance in CSOM, Aranyos enjoyed spending time with his friends and attending sporting events.
“He was your typical Boston College student,” Stephanie, his sister, said. “He loved to spend time with his friends and go out. He was genuinely the happiest when he was with his friends and going to football games, hockey games, dinners, and bars.”
According to Stephanie, Aranyos told his mother that commencement was the saddest day of his life because he was leaving BC. After commencement, Patrick returned with Cameron Ward, BC ’97, to visit Stephanie.
“He and Cameron left a rose on the bed of each of my roommates with a little address book, so we could get addresses, phone numbers, and emails from each other before we left campus,” Stephanie said.
After college, Aranyos was hired by Euro Brokers and began working in the south tower of the World Trade Center. Aranyos, who also wanted to return to school and earn his master’s degree, began dating Alex Carney while working in New York and had hoped to marry her.
Every year, Patrick’s friends and family share new pictures and stories—glimpses into the graduate’s past. Even through the pandemic, his friends participated in Zoom calls with the Aranyos family around the time of his birthday. Patrick’s nephews said they know everything about him and keep his memory alive.
“They talk about Uncle Patrick watching over them, they have visited BC, they’ve gone to the 9/11 memorial and take the time to remember him,” Stephanie said. “They know the things that he liked and didn’t like, know his friends, they know about his life. It’s been really nice.”
Through donations from family and friends, the Aranyos family created The Patrick M. Aranyos ’97 Memorial Scholarship, which provides support for students in CSOM who have demonstrated financial need.
“He was loved, and what he loved in return, which was the most important thing,” Stephanie said.
Danielle A. Delie, who was born in Europe, was a 47-year-old forensic accountant working at Marsh and McLennan Companies Inc. in the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Though she was born in France, Delie, BC ’76, grew up in New York City as an only child. She went to high school in Manhattan before attending BC.
Delie was a good friend to many, according to Sheila Callahan, who described her as kind and generous.
“She took great joy out of living,” Callahan said.
Callahan got to know Delie through her brother, Paul, who also went to BC. Delie was beloved by Callahan’s family, she said.
Delie was also a talented cook who loved preparing French dishes for her friends. She enjoyed a good bottle of wine and loved to play scrabble, according to Callahan.
“She was, you know, really the life of the party,” Callahan said. “Truly what the French call ‘bon vivant.’”
According to Callahan, Delie was always doing things for others, in the spirit of the Jesuit encouragement of standing “with and for others.”
Callahan said that the best way for BC students to honor Delie’s legacy is to live as she did: always bringing joy to others by spreading kindness and warmth.
Kevin M. Williams, BC ’99, was the kind of soul who spread warmth and made everyone feel comfortable.
“Some of his friends said that it didn’t matter who you were, you always just felt very comfortable with him,” Pat Williams, Kevin’s mother, said. “He just made everyone in the room feel important.”
Williams grew up in Shoreham, N.Y. with his parents and two younger siblings. He was a star athlete in high school—named MVP and captain in golf, basketball, and baseball senior year—and graduated top of his class.
“Kevin was just one of these kind of natural learners and athletes, and he could just watch someone do something and then replicate it,” Pat said.
Williams went on to play both golf and baseball at BC, while also pouring his energy into academics, graduating magna cum laude. Before graduation, he was hired by Sandler O’Neill, an investment banking firm in the World Trade Center.
“He went right to work in the city, and he often said that that was his goal, because kind of like that Frank Sinatra song, ‘If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere in New York, New York,’” Pat said.
Williams was also engaged to his highschool sweetheart, who he was set to marry in December of 2001.
After Sept. 11, his family set up the Kevin Williams Memorial Foundation to celebrate his legacy.
“Because of his love of sports, we decided that we were going to send underprivileged children, whose families could never afford it, to baseball and softball camps,” Pat said.
Over 1,700 children have been sent to sports camps through the foundation, Pat said. The foundation has also expanded to include the Kevin’s Holiday Angels Project, which helps provide for local families struggling during the holidays.
A baseball field also was dedicated in Williams’ name in Shoreham, his hometown, through the foundation’s help. Pat said the field is particularly special for Williams’ former classmates, who come play baseball and honor Kevin’s memory.
“Especially when the alumni can come in, they’ll be out there in an old baseball uniform having a catch, and it’s their opportunity to kind of honor Kevin as well, and remember the good times with him, you know, as they played on his side,” she said.
Pat said she hopes that Williams serves as an inspiration to others.
“Even though his life was cut short, you know, he filled every moment with activity and positiveness, and just enjoying his family, enjoying his friends,” Pat said.
People from every corner of Daniel W. McNeal’s life can attest to the myriad of ways in which he lived as a man for others.
“It was a hard act to follow as a little sister,” said Kathleen McNeal Scheeler.
McNeal, BC ’96, grew up in Towson, Md. with his parents and sister. He graduated as valedictorian from Loyola Blakefield, a Jesuit college preparatory school, where he was involved in a multitude of activities. His classmates dubbed 1990 “the Year of McNealism” to celebrate Dan’s enthusiastic presence everywhere, according to his yearbook.
“He was a super overachiever,” Kathleen said.
In addition to holding various leadership positions, McNeal fostered his gift for public speaking as a member of the debate team, managed multiple sports teams, and pursued his interest in photography.
Upon graduating from Loyola Blakefield, McNeal chose to continue his Jesuit education at BC, where his mother—Kathryn Walker McNeal, BC ’67—had also attended while serving as a Catholic nun.
At BC, McNeal continued to participate in forensics and traveled around the country with the debate team. He also served as a resident assistant and was an active member of the Residence Hall Association.
His widespread community involvement is a testament to how much McNeal cared about BC. Kathleen recalled catching glimpses of his passion for the University whenever she would visit campus for football games.
“Dan was the epitome of school spirit,” she said. “He loved what he did and he loved Boston College.”
McNeal graduated early and magna cum laude from CSOM in 1996. He then moved back to Baltimore and started a job at Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C.
McNeal eventually moved to New Jersey, working as an analyst at Sandler O’Neill on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center.
According to Kathleen, McNeal’s goal was to become well-established on Wall Street, return to Maryland, and ultimately become a professor at Georgetown, where he received an MBA.
He was promoted to vice president at Sandler O’Neill shortly before 9/11.
“He just always had goals set for himself and he had a great life ahead of him,” Kathleen said.
Kathleen said people from every part of McNeal’s life continue to reach out to her to share their memories of him.
In December of 2001, Kathleen and her husband received the news that they were expecting their first child.
“As soon as we found out it was a boy, we knew his name would be Danny,” Kathleen said.
Danny Scheeler—McNeal’s nephew—learned about Sept. 11 earlier in life than most kids, along with his late uncle’s legacy.
Danny recently graduated from his uncle’s alma mater, Loyola Blakefield, in 2020. He said he felt lucky to have had some of the same teachers that his late uncle once did.
“That was a big influence on my time at Loyola because I got to learn more about him,” said Danny. “They’ve been there since he was there, and through them, I got to learn more about what his life was like in high school.”
Every year, the Daniel W. McNeal Scholarship is awarded to a Loyola Blakefield upperclassman who exemplifies being a man for others by embodying the characteristics of academic excellence, service, and leadership that McNeal demonstrated during his years at Loyola. Danny and the McNeal family present this award together at an annual mass on the Loyola campus.
Twenty years after losing her brother, Kathleen said there is not a day that goes by that she doesn’t think of Dan.
“Time heals,” Kathleen said, “but the pain never goes away.”
Featured Graphic by Meegan Minahan / Heights Editor
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