NEW YORK Jill Gartenberg laughs when she remembers how her husband Jim woke her up three Saturdays ago.
“He woke up and said, “Do you know what day it is? It”s the start of college football season!””
But this weekend, college football was suspended, and Jim Gartenberg, who graduated with an economics degree from the University of Michigan in 1987, is one of the more than 4,900 people still missing this weekend after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers Tuesday.
His friends knew him for his love of the University of Michigan. He was the president of the New York City chapter of the University”s alumni association the largest chapter in the country for 10 years.
“He lived for Michigan football anything Michigan, he loved. He prided himself on the fact that he went back to Ann Arbor for a game every year,” his wife said. “He always said he would be one of those old guys who wore the pants with the “M” on them.”
Jim Gartenberg worked on the 86th floor of Tower One for Julien J. Studley Inc., a commercial real estate firm. He remained in phone contact with his wife until shortly before she watched the building collapse on television.
“He called me at quarter to nine and he called me at my machine at work and said there was a fire at work and he didn”t know if he was going to make it,” Jill Gartenberg said. “I don”t even know if he even knew if it was terrorism.”
Jill Gartenberg said her husband told her he couldn”t escape because the stairwell was full of smoke and debris.
Jim Gartenberg also called ABC News and was put on the air live.
“To let loved ones know that they were safe on the 86th floor,” Jill Gartenberg said. He was on the floor with one other co-worker, who is also missing.
“He was very calm and composed when he called I didn”t hear him on ABC News, but my friends called me and said, “He”s fine, he”s fine,” because he sounded so calm.”
Police asked Jill Gartenberg for her husbands toothbrush to use for the purpose of DNA identification.
Jill Gartenberg graduated from the University in 1989 with a psychology degree, but the two met in New York during an alumni association event. At their wedding, they walked down the aisle to the tune of “The Victors.”
Jim Gartenberg leaves behind a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Nicole.
“I say, “What do you say when Daddy watches football?” And she says, “Go Blue!” He wanted those to be her first words.”
Jill Gartenberg is pregnant with the couple”s second child. She admitted that the reality hasn”t sunk in yet that her husband is gone.
“He was 35. It”s way too young to go. He had a lot of life left he enjoyed every minute of every day.”