CANTON TOWNSHIP When Patricia Whalen”s daughters 23-year-old Meredith and 21-year-old Kristen returned to their childhood home for Labor Day weekend, Whalen never anticipated this would be the last time she would see one of them again.
“You always think it happens to somebody else,” Whalen said yesterday.
Meredith, a 2000 University of Michigan Business School graduate, worked as a research analyst for Fred Alger Management Inc. on the 93rd floor of World Trade Center Tower One.
“She thrived in New York,” Whalen said. “Her presence, confidence made her able to handle one of the firm”s biggest clients.”
Whalen received a call Tuesday morning from Kristen, a student at the University of North Carolina, who alerted her that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
“I saw the antenna and I knew it was her tower,” Whalen said. “I was trying to count down how many floors, but there was too much smoke.”
She was momentarily hopeful, as she believed her daughter began working at 8 a.m. on Mondays and 9 a.m. the rest of the week.
She called Meredith”s roommate, Mary Kowalczyk, to confirm what time her daughter had left for work that morning, and Kowalczyk told her 7:30 a.m.
Whalen later learned that Meredith”s friend on the West Coast received an e-mail from Meredith the morning of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The e-mail confirmed that Meredith was at her desk at 8:20 a.m.
According to a statement released by Meredith”s firm, all administrative and sales staff and a small core of research analysts survived. Whalen probably did not survive due to the fact that she was at work prior to her 9:00 a.m. start time.
“I was in shock,” she said. “You know, she”s too young to die.”
Whalen says she is sure Meredith was killed because the plane entered the building on the floor Meredith worked on and the heat would have been too intense for her to survive.
“I would have liked to hug her body,” she said. “I don”t think I”m going to have anything to bury. I feel gipped because she had so much promise.”
Whalen said Meredith loved the fast-paced interactions with heads of major corporations, saying her boss, David Alger, described Meredith as “a rising star.”
“The CEO of eBay really liked her work,” Whalen said. “She never left work at five. She was eager and young.”
Meredith went out on assignments at establishments such as the Plaza Hotel, where she listened and took notes of speeches given by CEOs. With clients such as Paine Webber and Goldman Sacs frequenting the 93rd floor, and crossing paths with celebrities such as Uma Thurman and Jerry Seinfeld, Whalen said she could understand Meredith”s love for New York.
“Her job was so difficult. She had a lot of courage for what she was doing,” said Lindsay Calhoun, a New York fashion designer and friend of Merideth”s from the University. “She was very confident, very positive and made everyone around her feel very special.”
Meredith was also enthusiastic about supporting herself financially. Upon moving to New York, she needed to buy a business wardrobe.
“She went out and bought the best Jones New York suits,” Whalen said.
During her lifetime, Meredith went on five cruises with her mother, and she had planned to fly to Barcelona last Friday for a 12-day Mediterranean trip with her mother.