Welles Remy Crowther, Age 24

Welles Remy Crowther.  Rest in peace.

Welles Remy Crowther, age 24.

Place killed: World Trade Center.

Resident of Upper Nyack, New York.

Welles Remy Crowther was an equities trader on the South Tower’s 104th floor, who helped dozens of people to safety on September 11.

His body was found in March, 2002, alongside several firefighters and emergency workers bunched in a command post in the South Tower lobby.

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I am honored to have the opportunity to post a tribute to Welles Remy Crowther, in memory of the ten year anniversary of the unprovoked attack on the United States by Muslim terrorists.

Welles Remy Crowther was born the oldest of three children, displaying his fearlessness, spirit and selflessness early and often growing up in the New York’s northern suburbs, his parents say.

He doted on his two younger sisters, Paige and Honor, and followed his father Jefferson’s lead, always carrying a bandanna in his back pocket (Welles preferred red, his father blue) and joining him as a volunteer firefighter as a teenager.

In high school, he was the type of kid who would selflessly feed the puck to the hockey team’s lowest-scoring player, hoping to give his teammate his first goal.

To his friends, he was the guy who would always listen and lend a hand.

Rain or shine, as a child, he would find something to do with his younger sisters, whether it was practicing lacrosse moves or having pillow fights in the hallway of their home.

At the age of 16, after years of helping his dad clean his village’s fire trucks, he became a junior volunteer firefighter. Two years later, he earned his certification.

A stellar student and lacrosse player at Boston College, Crowther joined Sandler O’Neil and Partners after graduation, settling into his office on the South Tower’s 104th floor.

While he loved his job, Welles told his dad that he really wanted to join the FDNYor possibly the CIA or FBI — so he wouldn’t be stuck behind a desk and would be able to help others.

But that’s where he was on the morning of September 11th. Behind his desk.

He made one final call to his mom, Alison, from his office at 9:12 a.m., minutes after his tower was struck, leaving a brief, calm message saying, “Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I’m OK.”

That call was all the Crowthers knew about their son’s final moments until police knocked on their door in March, 2002, six months after the devastating attack on the United States.

Alison Crowther said the New York medical examiner’s office told them Welles’ body had been found intact, with no signs of burns, alongside firefighters and emergency workers then running a command center in the South Tower’s lobby.

Welles Remy Crowther was a hero on September 11. One of his greatest ambitions in life was to help others.

To help others. How many people do you know whose singular ambition in life is to Help Others?

Welles Crowther trained to be a volunteer fireman and his personality and character and spirit drove him to elevate and soar above the rest of us; he helped others escape the burning, twisted metal so that they could live, while he in turn, risked his own life so that others could survive. Welles Crowther spent his final moments, not thinking of his own safety, but helping others. He was truly a remarkable man.

Ling Young is one of the people Welles saved. She sat bloody and petrified with some others in the World Trade Center — the lights out, smoke engulfing the room and pain searing through their bodies. There was no escape from where they were in the South Tower, in pieces after being hit by United Airlines Flight 175 as far as they could tell.

Then out of nowhere, a young man burst in and took control – with a red bandanna on his face. In a strong voice, he directed them to the stairway — which was veiled by darkness, wreckage and haze — telling the injured to get out and the healthy to help them down.

“I see this incredible hero, running back and forth and saving the day,” recalled Judy Wein. “In his mind, he had a duty to do — to save people.”

“He’s definitely my guardian angel — no ifs, ands or buts — because without him, we would be sitting there, waiting [until] the building came down,” echoes Ling Young.

Wein and Young were separated by a few minutes and a few floors that day, but they share a similar story and a single hero: Welles Crowther.

Judy Wein remembers his penetrtaing eyes, firm voice and the red bandanna he wore over his nose and mouth — but didn’t know his name.

His name was Welles Crowther.

“If he hadn’t come back, I wouldn’t have made it,” said Wein. “People can live 100 years and not have the compassion, the wherewithal to do what he did.”

Welles’ father, Mr. Jefferson Crowther, wrote the following about his late son:

He was courageous and strong and selfless on that terrible morning. He faced the devil head on three times to help the victims down from the 78th floor skylobby of Tower 2, and when he got to the lobby he stayed to assist in the orderly evacuation. His body was found on March 19, 2002 with the Firefighters of Ladder 4 FDNY. He too was a firefighter, a volunteer with Empire Hook & Ladder Company #1 in Upper Nyack, NY. His mother, Alison, and I with his two younger sisters are incredibly proud of his actions that morning, and we hope it inspires other young people to become involved as volunteers, either as firefighters, ambulance corps personnel, or in any capacity that your community needs. For that is the true strength of the United States of America. Thank you, and may God bless all of you.— Jefferson Crowther, father of the late Welles Remy Crowther.

Welles gave his life for people he did not even know. His mother, Alison Crowther, said:

I think he was blessed by God, and I think he was surrounded by a protection from God to be able to do what he did that day, and I think that that is — maybe all we can ask of life, is that we live our lives as fully and as beautifully and as completely and as spiritually whole as what Welles did, as he did.

Paige Hope Crowther, Welles younger sister, wrote the following on the 9-11 Heroes site:

Welles was my older brother, my protector. He was an amazing young man and, although our loss was great, I find solace in knowing that in his last moments, he took on the role of being the protector of so many others. He was truly a guardian angel that day, and still is today. He is with me always, and I will forever feel his presence. He is in my thoughts, dreams and prayers everyday and if we pass his heroic story on, in this way, he will live forever.

Jeff Crowther hopes his son’s story will inspire people to become a volunteer firefighter, to give money to the homeless every day like Welles did, to set goals and follow through.

“If Welles’ story helps people to think of others then God bless them, God bless him,” said his father. “He didn’t live long enough to be head of a corporation or do good works or endow a museum. But what he did on September 11, that’s his legacy.”

The Crowthers have established a trust fund that will fuel awards given to high school students who exemplify the type of person their son was, as well as so many others who lost their lives that day.

“Yes, we mourn their loss, but if we only think about what we lost and not what we’ve had, we’ll just die,” Alison said. “So we have to live in the beauty of what their lives were — and who they were as human beings because that’s what we celebrate and that’s what we fill our lives with.”

Tax-deductible contributions in memory of Welles Crowther can be sent to:

The Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust
P.O. Box 780
Nyack, NY 10960

Details can be had from the trust at 106 Birchwood Avenue, Upper Nyack, NY 10960.

TigerHawk, the famous blogger, is Welles Crowther’s cousin. Read TigerHawk’s tribute to his cousin, here.

Read Boston College’s tribute to Welles Crowther, here.

On September 23, 2006 the second annual Welles Remy Crowther Red Bandana Run, a 5K road race, will be held as an annual tribute to Welles Crowther. The race is co-sponsored by the Boston College Volunteer and Service Learning Center and the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust. The day is designed to bring all levels of runners (and walkers!) together to have fun and raise funds for the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust. For more information on the race, click here.

Read Winds Of Change’s painful account of what happened on that dreadful day, including a mention of TigerHawk’s post to his cousin, here.

You can leave a message of your own to Welles Remy Crowther, here.

You can view the entire list of contributors to the 2,996 Project here.

Welles Remy Crowther, you are an inspiration to all of us to achieve greatness, to be like an angel unto others, to love others as you love yourself.

“A person can only love according to the degree he knows the object of his love. If he knows a little, he can love a little. And if he knows a lot, he can love a lot.” (Laws of Teshuva 10:6).

Welles Crowther’s acts of herosim elevated deeds of loving kindness to the highest possible ranking among soul-traits. Only some problems have solutions, but all are alleviated by the loving response of those around us.
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Here are two more links about Welles Remy Crowther; Fox News has  devoted a column to him here, and September11Quilts displays a quilt his grandmother, Jane Ernst Remy, made in Welles’ memory, here.

{ 2 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. Amazing young man. His legacy will live on. We as Americans need to follow his example in all aspects of our lives.

  2. Susan Schwartz

    Very beautifully written!

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