In Memoriam, Gerald O'Leary

Gerald O'Leary

I never knew Gerald O’Leary. But I think I would have liked him. We’re both Irish, after all. I’m not much for football watching, though, which was his passion. But the Cowboys are as good a team to cheer for as any (except maybe the Bengals).

I need to rely on the words of others to know him. Here are a few…

From the New York Journal News:

A sous chef for Forte Foods, the food service for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st floor of World Trade Center Tower 1, O’Leary was at work when the plane hit. His brother-in-law, Robert McCarthy [ed. — he is profiled at Life at Full Volume], was at work on the 104th floor and managed to get two calls out — to his wife and to his sister, who is O’Leary’s wife, after the first crash. O’Leary and his wife, Mary Jean McCarthy O’Leary, an emergency room nurse practitioner at Nyack Hospital, have one son, Michael Patrick, who turned 1 on Sept. 28. Paula Quinonez, who worked with O’Leary at the Plaza Hotel until last year, described him as particularly kind.

“There are not enough words to say what a nice person he was,” the Yonkers woman said. “He was quiet, gentle, kind. In the five years I worked with him, I never heard him raise his voice.”

Peggy Farrar, who was Mary Jean O’Leary’s maid of honor on her wedding day, described both O’Leary and McCarthy as “fun-loving and kind.”

“They were just vibrant and great fun to be with,” Farrar said. “They always lit up your life, lit up a room when they walked in.”

O’Leary and McCarthy enjoyed watching and playing sports, with football tops on their list, Farrar said. O’Leary backed the Dallas Cowboys, while McCarthy was a big New York Giants fan. The families held a joint funeral for the brothers-in-law at St. Gregory Barbarigo Church in Garnerville.

People still mourn, too. It was only five years ago, after all. Your best friend gets killed suddenly — what do you do?

Dearest Jerry,

As I sit here and stare at your picture I still can’t believe your not here. It’s been almost four years and not a day goes by that you are not my first thought when I wake and my very last before I sleep. And right now I am shaking from head to toe while I fight to hold back the tears as I try to type these words. I don’t know who this has truly been harder on me or Scott. I know Scott has never been the same since. When you left you especially took a big part of him with you. He’ll never admit it but he was beyond heartbroken and he’s never fully recovered nor will he ever. The both of you completed each other in a way I have never known two best friends could be capable of. In the almost eight years that I had been blessed to have had you in my life was truly a gift from God himself and for that I will alway be more grateful than words could ever describe. …

And so, five years after a freak of history, he is assigned to me to talk about and mourn. I don’t know if I can do him justice, though I hope to try.

I never knew him. He never knew me. But my world is smaller because of his loss.

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5 thoughts on “In Memoriam, Gerald O'Leary

  1. Thank you for this lovely tribute to my brother, indeed the world is a lot smaller without him in it.

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