Sunday, September 11, 2011

Project 2,996: A Tribute to William J. Meehan

I wrote this tribute to William J. Meehan in 2009 as part of Project 2,996, in which bloggers volunteer to remember the valuable lives of the people we lost on September 11, 2001. Earlier today, I posted a remembrance of the Hanson family, who also were murdered that day.

Bill Meehan was a 49-year-old husband and father of three who lived in Darien, Connecticut, and who had had just moved his office to the World Trade Center in late August of 2001 because he was being asked more and more frequently to share his views of Wall Street on CNBC. Bill was chief market analyst for Cantor Fitzgerald, the country's largest bond firm, with more than 1,000 people working in four floors of the north tower.

I never knew Bill Meehan, but Amy Langfield did, and she wrote about him in a letter to her parents on September 18, the day she learned of his death. Amy had just returned to New York, where she reported on Wall Street matters for Reuters. Later, Amy published that letter in her blog, Amy's New York Notebook, on June 24, 2002, in a post entitled, "There's No Forgetting."

Here's some of what Amy wrote:

I used to talk to Bill Meehan nearly every morning when I was writing the market curtain-raiser for Reuters. He was often the first person I talked to in the mornings and always helped me get my bearings for the day. Super nice guy, always helpful, and had a good grasp of overall market conditions. I had to call analysts about 7:20 a.m. and find out what they thought the most important factors in the market would be that day -- there weren't that many people already in the office and on the ball by then, but Meehan was, and was [one of] only about five guys we knew who would bother to talk to reporters that early.
The New York Times had a few things to say about Bill Meeham too:
William J. Meehan liked to say he had the ideal job. "All he had to do was give an opinion," said his wife, Maureen. But when Mr. Meehan opined, Wall Street listened: he was chief market analyst for Cantor Fitzgerald.
The job was ideal if you did not mind rising at 4:30 a.m., which Mr. Meehan, 49, did to write his column for The Cantor Morning News, an online newsletter. He was a fixture on the proliferating financial shows and got to banter with Louis Rukeyser on "Wall Street Week."
A Meehan opinion was grounded in books. "He would read everything and anything," his wife recalled, "not just financial but also biographies and Harry Potter, too." He bought the early Potter books for his daughter, Katie -- and ended up reading them himself. But for a man who spent many a vacation day between hard covers, Mr. Meehan was also big on the Internet. "He was the first guy I knew to buy his Christmas tree online," said Steven Montano, The Morning News's managing editor.
Mr. Meehan initially worked for Cantor in Darien, Conn., where he lived, getting home in time to coach his three children in Little League, flag football and basketball. But in August, as his TV appearances became more frequent, he shifted to the World Trade Center.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Alkaban, a book that Bill Meehan might have read if he had lived, Dumbledore tells Harry, “‘You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him."

September 11, 2001, is a date that has been made sacred by the passing of so many. Every day since, many of us have been in need of somebody who died that day. In the days to come, America will continue to have much need of those we have lost, and we will profit much if we look inside ourselves to capture the lessons they would impart.

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