Remembering Those We’ve Lost

“These are trying times. We have so many questions. I would like to suggest that one of the answers is this: We have each other . . . [T]his tragedy will bring us closer. That may be the single most important memorial we can build to honor those we’ve lost.” — Dean Patrick Harker in a speech given at the Wharton Community Memorial Ceremony, Thursday, September 13, 2001

The Wharton School mourns the following alumni, who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001:

37, New York, NY; software research analyst, Fiduciary Trust International

29, New York, NY; Euro Brokers Inc.

38, Millburn, NJ; senior vice president, Marsh Inc.

43, New York, NY; financial consultant

28, New York, NY; corporate development director, Data Synapse

60, Newton, MA; owner, Brae Burn Management

36, Fort Lee, NJ; manager, Fuji Bank, Ltd.

39, Englewood, NJ; Cantor Fitzgerald

42, Princeton, NJ; Fred Alger Management

55, Ridgewood, NJ; vice president, Sandler O’Neill & Partners

We also offer our deepest condolences to those members of the extended Wharton community who lost family members, friends, and colleagues on that day.

The following stories, gathered from various sources, offer a glimpse of the impact these individuals had on others’ lives.

Mukul K. Agarwala, EE’84, WG’90
‘Here’s Lookin’ at You, Kid’

After he folded an Internet company in San Diego last spring, Mukul K. Agarwala moved back east to be near his parents in Kendall Park, NJ, because they were in failing health.

His sense of family extended to his friends’ children, too. “He would call every month to ask for a new photo of our daughter, Riya,” said Neeraj Mital, a friend since college.

Mr. Agarwala’s widow, Rhea Stone, said that his sense of concern went even further. Not long after they met in Hong Kong in 1993, she said, he saw a newspaper article about a mistreated domestic worker who, like Mr. Agarwala’s parents, had come from India. He went to the Indian diplomatic mission and paid her fare back home.

Ms. Stone said her husband’s enthusiasms ranged from snowboarding to reading history to old movies. She could not remember how many times they had watched “Casablanca.”

On Sept. 11, Mr. Agarwala, 37, was in his second day as a research analyst on software for Fiduciary Trust.

Copyright © 2001 by The New York Times Company.
Reprinted by permission.

Mark Charette, W’85
An Amazing Father

When Cheryl Desmarais, W’85, a sophomore at Penn, saw the grade on her first engineering test, she knew she needed to find a study partner fast. She took a quick look around the room and decided that ROTC student Mark Charette would fit the bill. He was more than a good choice: not only did the pair help each other pass the class, they both transferred to Wharton, got engaged right before graduation, and married a year later. Then came Lauren, Andrew, and Jonathan, now ages 8, 6, and 2.

On September 11th, Charette, an insurance broker for Marsh, Inc., in New Jersey, was leading a two-day project meeting at the World Trade Center. As news of the attacks spread, remembers Desmarais, there was an overwhelming outpouring from Charette’s clients and colleagues. They talked about their respect for his honesty, productivity, and energy. “He had more integrity than anyone I know,” she says, “and the people who worked with him recognized that.”

Charette’s energy was evident in everything he did, including his tireless renovation of the family’s 120-year-old Victorian house in Millburn, NJ. “To say he was handy would be a huge understatement,” says his wife. Charette happily handled the plumbing, heating and electrical work on the house, built furniture for his kids, and designed a swingset for the yard.

Yet, despite his drive, says Desmarais, his job, the house and other interests always took a backseat to his children. He would go to the office late in order to walk his daughter to school. He bathed the kids every evening, took them on camping trips, and never scheduled business appointments on Halloween. One day, while Charette was cutting lumber to trim the house, his son asked if he could use some of the scraps. The two spent the rest of the day building a birdhouse.

“He was an amazing man,” says Desmarais, “and he was the best father in the world. That, more than anything, is what I would like people to remember.”

Juliana Delany (for Wharton Alumni Magazine)

Robert Deraney, WG’83
‘Pretty Much Perfect’

When Michele Haobsh learned last year that she had breast cancer, she called Robert Deraney, her brother, and said: “What do I do?”

He provided answers, finding an oncologist and surgeon and accompanying her to chemotherapy and radiation appointments. Long before she did, he joined Gilda’s Club, for people with cancer and their families, and made an appointment for her and her family. “He got me through it,” she said.

Mr. Deraney, 43, a financial consultant who graduated from Princeton and the Wharton School, was at a breakfast meeting at Windows on the World on Sept. 11.

He was the “high energy” family organizer, Mrs. Haobsh said. He planned the annual reunions of 70 rela-tives, ordering Lebanese food and creating a game — Who Wants to be a Famillionaire? — based on Deraney trivia.

His Upper West Side apartment was furnished with family antiques. He set an elegant table with china and silver for 35 and ended evenings by playing the piano. “He was,” Mrs. Haobsh said, “pretty much perfect.”

Copyright © 2001 by The New York Times Company.
Reprinted by permission.

Garth E. Feeney, W’95, EAS’95
‘My Friend Garth Feeney’

Garth Feeney and I met early in our sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania. . . . After college, Garth’s home – or, more specifically, his living room couch — was often my home during my frequent trips to New York over the next 5 years.

Although neither Garth nor myself were particularly fond of taking pictures, there are a few stray photos from those years floating around. One that I particularly cherished was a rite-of-passage photo I took of Garth showing off his brand new Brooks Brothers suit shortly before graduation and the start of his new job. The photo was a study of contrasts: it captured the ever-present child-like enthusiasm on Garth’s face, the stern and upscale “Banker’s Blue” of his new suit, all set against the surroundings of our college dorm room. That photo also captures a glimpse into what drew people to Garth as a human being.

In a very recent photograph, three of us are posing in our river kayaks — Garth’s latest obsession — moments before plunging into the frigid upper Hudson River for the first time. Like a ten-year-old about to take his first roller-coaster ride, Garth’s face positively beams with excitement (in contrast with the slight hesitation on ours).

The simple, beautiful reaction that we have to these pictures is to fondly smile at the thought of the person that was — and still is — Garth Feeney.

The English language uses the terms “widow” and “widower” for a person that has lost a spouse, and “orphan” for someone who has lost a parent. However, English does not provide us with an appropriate word to mark the passing of a good friend, and particularly one so young, which is why such images are so important.

Although he may not have been physically with us for very long, the depth and quality of his presence and smiles on our faces as those pictures surface will be with us for a lifetime.

Vinod Valloppillil (excerpt from a eulogy given at Garth Feeney’s memorial service)

Nicholas Humber, WG’67
Impacting People and the Environment

Nicholas J. Humber was traveling onboard American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles when it crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on September 11.

Humber, 60, was a resident of Newton, MA. He was divorced and had a 19-year-old son, Jordan. Prior to the tragedy, Humber had owned Brae Burn Management for eight years. The company is a consulting firm for strategic planning and marketing and product development. It mainly provides consultations to energy and environmental industries.

Humber also served as the director of East Coast operations for Enron Wind, Enron Corp.’s wind turbine division. He held a B.S. in mechanical engineering from RPI and an MBA in finance and marketing from the Wharton Graduate School at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1972 Humber joined the Environmental Protection Agency in its first year of operation and established its municipal waste division for waste-to-energy conversion and recycling. He later advised the World Bank IFC-GEF program on environmental and independent power projects, evaluating projects in India, Jamaica, and Russia.

“I’ve been amazed at the number of people his life really had impacted. I’ve had high-level people calling all day — heads of companies, who have been crying as they spoke,” Jeffrey Humber, Nicholas’ brother, told the Springfield Union-News/Sunday Republican.

Humber was also an officer in the Boston Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth and chairman of the Technology Innovation Committee for the New England Environmental Business Council. Two memorial services for Nicholas Humber were held in Boston and Springfield, MA in September following his passing.

Scott Robertson (excerpt reprinted with permission from the October 24, 2001, issue of the Rensselaer Polytechnic)

Michael M. Miller, W’84
No Time Like the Present

Michael M. Miller planned to get engaged on New Year’s Eve last year. But he could not wait.

So he popped the question just after Christmas instead, said Patricia Skic, his fiancée. “We were going to a wedding, and everybody at the wedding knew, and he was afraid I would find out,” Ms. Skic said.

It was not the first time Mr. Miller, 39, of Englewood, NJ, had moved quickly. A three-sport athlete in high school, he was recruited to be a wide receiver at the University of Pennsylvania, said his mother, Betty Ann Miller. After college, he fulfilled his passion for speed by skiing and riding his Harley-Davidson.

A bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, Mr. Miller had planned to marry Ms. Skic last month. “We were just going to elope and throw a party,” she said. “We didn’t want to spend the money for a big wedding — we were saving to buy a house in the Hamptons.”

Said his mother: “He brought pleasure to a room. He was a joy to be around.”

Copyright © 2001 by The New York Times Company. Reprinted by permission.

Tu-Anh Pham, WG’89
Overcoming Life’s Obstacles

Tu-Anh Pham was a small woman with big ambitions who lived the way she worked: full of determination, always ready to rise to a challenge, and intent on overcoming anything that stood in her way. And there were several such obstacles in her life, says her husband, Tom Knobel.

One was discrimination in the business world. In the early 90s, at the large chemical company where she worked as a research scientist, Pham expressed interest in a position in marketing, and was told she didn’t look the part. In response, she applied to business schools, enrolled at Wharton, and never looked back. Her MBA was her ticket to consulting positions at Scientific Generics in Cambridge, England; UMS Group in Madison, NJ; and finally, Fred Alger Management, on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center.

Cultural attitudes were another obstacle. Born in Vietnam, Pham was raised in a society — and a family — where women aspired to technical work, not business careers. She pursued her goals anyway and became a respected managerial consultant and entrepreneur.

Most recently, Pham faced the challenge of infertility. For years, she and Knobel tried to have a child without success. They persevered, and last summer, at 42, she delivered daughter Vivienne, now four months old. Knobel sees his daughter as another triumph for Pham. “Tu-Anh wanted to prove that she could do just about anything,” he says, “and she did.”

On September 10th, Pham returned to work after maternity leave. Earlier, the couple had decided that Knobel, a former sales executive and the author of an historical novel, would stay home to care for the new baby. He has continued to do so, despite the challenges of single parenting. “We are moving past the obstacles and carrying on with our lives,” says Knobel. “It’s what Tu-Anh would have done.”

Juliana Delany (for Wharton Alumni Magazine)

Michael San Phillip, W’67
Family First

Michael San Phillip was a man of many passions. Since his days at Penn, where he played football and lacrosse, he reveled in healthy competition and spent hours perfecting his tennis, paddleball and golf games. He loved his community of Ridgewood, NJ, where he volunteered to teach tennis to local kids. He was passionate about his 33-year career as an equities trader, and about his most recent job as a vice president at Sandler O’Neill & Partners, a banking boutique on the 104th floor of 2 World Trade Center.

But most of all, San Phillip was passionate about family: his wife, Lynne, whom he first met while vacationing at the Jersey Shore, and his two daughters, Jill Abbott, 34, and Carrie San Phillip, 31. “His family was the most important thing,” says Abbott, who is pregnant. “He was expecting his first grandchild, and he was really looking forward to it.”

After graduating from Wharton in 1967, Michael joined Halgarten and Company, a New York brokerage house, then Merrill Lynch, where he remained for 26 years until joining Sandler O’Neill. “He was very involved with the onset of electronic trading throughout his career,” says Lynne San Phillip. “It’s an exciting field, and for him it was always an interesting place to be.”

Today, Michael’s passions are evident in the lives of his daughters. Both played college tennis, which their father taught them. In 1993, Abbott graduated from the Fels School at the University of Pennsylvania. “It was wonderful to walk down Locust Walk with my father,” she remembers. Carrie San Phillip, who received an MBA from Pace University, is a business analyst with Lehman Brothers.

Abbott, a senior events coordinator at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Delaware, recently learned that her co-workers are dedicating a bench to her father. It will face one of Abbott’s own passions: The Enchanted Woods, a fanciful children’s garden at Winterthur that she played a key role in developing. “I like to think about all the children who will come to sit on Dad’s bench,” she says.

Juliana Delany (for Wharton Alumni Magazine)

Wharton Magazine - Background

Type to Search

See all results