For nineteen years New York City
was my home so it was impossible to disconnect or isolate myself even from
the unthinkable 1000-plus miles away. I once had dinner at Windows
on the World where we sat as far away from the windows as possible because
my mother-in-law is so afraid of heights.
The first people I thought about on the morning of 11 September were
the transmitter engineers at the top of the North Tower. I didn't
know any of them, but one of my customers and friends, Steve Shultis, IS
the chief engineer at WNYC. He often made trips to the transmitter
site, where just about every Telveision and FM radio station was beamed
from the mast upon this massive building. He wasn't there on the
morning of the 11th, but six other engineers were.
I first learned of those six engineers via email. In the months
that followed I searched and found little information on them. I
also couldn't generate any interest in a story via my normal magazine connections
except for Ray at Radio Guide.
While I never lost interest, I didn't want to press for information when
so many were trying to get NYC back on its feet.. This tribute was
resumed nearly nine months later, going back into files to see where I
left off, filling in the gaps was sadly easier. Web searches yielded
immediate answers. Another
web page provides links to each engineer. Below you will find
my humble collection, a tribute to the engineers who lost their lives on
11 September 2001. I did not know them but they were my brothers.
10 September 2002
A Quirky Perfectionist
When Donald J. DiFranco set out to replace the roof on his house, he
counted out every nail and every tile he would need before starting. When
he needed new windows for the house, he spent months compiling a list of
virtually all the window manufacturers in the world. After he ordered the
windows, he stained the wood around each pane, applying coat after coat,
before installing them. But the windows did not look quite right, so he
removed them, stained them again and put them back in.
Mr. DiFranco, 43, the engineer in charge of maintaining WABC-TV's transmitter
on the 110th floor of 1 World Trade Center, approached the tasks of life
with a quirky perfectionism. This endeared him to anyone who watched him
work and to relatives, who counted on his being able to tackle anything,
from broken radios to tax returns. "He just had something you can't learn,"
said his sister, Lisa Pipitone. Mr. DiFranco would often work late. But
before he left the building, no matter what time it was, he would slip
on a pair of work gloves and do a long set of push-ups, said his co-worker,
Vinny Ioele. "It was a good sign to see him put on the gloves," Mr. Ioele
said. "That meant it was time to go."
Profile published in THE
NEW YORK TIMES.
A Transmitter Marvel
He worked up top. He liked it up there, with his transmitter. Steven
Jacobson was an engineer for WPIX- TV and worked in a room on the 110th
floor of 1 World Trade Center, usually by himself, tending to the station's
transmitter. Mr. Jacobson, 53, had a deep fidelity to that transmitter.
He cared for it like a sick baby the occasional time it would "dump" and
take the station off the air. Once he used his shoelaces to get it going.
During the 1993 trade center bombing, he stayed until midnight, to make
sure the transmitter operated properly once power was restored. When the
bomb exploded, Victor Arnone, a WPIX maintenance engineer and a close friend,
went to the concourse to get lunch for him. He called Mr. Jacobson and
yelled: "Steve! Explosion! Smoke! People are running out!" Mr. Jacobson
said, "Does this mean I don't get my egg roll?"
Mr. Jacobson had a dry humor. It was a routine for him to invite Jewish
friends to lunch at his Manhattan home on Yom Kippur, when, of course,
they were fasting. He loved to prowl through ham radio flea markets. Unfailingly,
he would ask a vendor, "Do you have a used logbook and a big eraser?" He
had a habit of not using turn signals when he drove. When questioned, he
would respond, "It's nobody's business which way I'm turning."
Profile published in THE
NEW YORK TIMES on October 28, 2001.
For most of the 35 years that William Steckman worked for NBC, he tended
the company's transmitter in 1 World Trade Center, and worked the night
shift just about all that time. None of the wild weather — the lashing
hailstorms, passing hurricanes or strokes of lightning — really bothered
him, "because he was so confident in the strength of that building, he
knew nothing could happen to it," said Jerry Vandagna, his father-in-law.
Furthermore, Mr. Steckman, a 56-year- old audio engineer, liked the
night shift not only because it let him spend time during the day in West
Hempstead, N.Y., with his five children, but also because it gave him a
chance to fix everything around the house. "He could fix absolutely anything,"
Mr. Vandagna said. Knowing that, his boss phoned and asked if he
could stay after his shift ended at 6 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 11.
He always stayed whenever new equipment was being installed. After the
first plane crashed, Mr. Steckman phoned his boss and said, "I'll power
down and get out."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES.
CBS Vet, Evangelical Pastor
October 30, 2001
Isaias Rivera had been on the 110th floor the first time One World Trade
Center was bombed. In 1993 the CBS transmission engineer did what
a real pro always does: He tried to keep CBS on the air. And, as he finally
made his way to the ground, he helped others reach safety, even staying
at the site through the next day. This time, he wasn’t so lucky.
Rivera, 51, a 30-year CBS veteran, spent much of his life guiding others
through treacherous grounds. According to a story in the Newark Star-Ledger,
Rivera was an evangelical pastor who tutored many at-risk youths, helping
them navigate the tough neighborhoods of Spanish Harlem.
After the news of the Sept. 11 attacks began filtering through the airwaves,
Rivera’s Perth Amboy, N.J., house filled with former students -– among
them a lawyer, psychiatrist, and police officer.
Rivera is survived by his wife, Nilsa, daughter Lynette, sons Isaias
Jr., Adrian, and
Antonio, and three grandchildren.
-- Jenna Kern (For Newsday)
More on Isaias Rivera, 51, from the Newark Star-Ledger
Ivan Delgado is a child psychiatrist in Iowa. Nitza Hollinger is a lawyer
in Alaska. Judith Cruz is a surgery technician in upstate New York. Pedro
Garcia is a policeman in Washington, D.C. All of them grew up in
None of them would be where they are, they said, if not for Isaias
Rivera. Mr. Rivera, then in his early 20s, taught teens the Bible and clean
living at Hispana Pentecostal Church. "Those were mean streets, man," Hollinger
said. "To see a good, clean teen just kind of says I don't have to go the
route of everybody else in Harlem. And we did it, we made it -- so many
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 -- when the 51-year-old Mr.
Rivera was at work as a maintenance engineer at the CBS transmitter on
the 110th floor of One World Trade Center -- former students poured into
his Perth Amboy house from across the country. "We call ourselves
Isaias' children," said Cruz, now 39. Cruz became a magnet for the
wrong boys in her early teens. Her school attendance became shaky. Mr.
Rivera was a relentless nag. "He kept on me and on me. He always
said that I was made for great things, that even though I was Spanish and
I was a minority, in God's eyes there are no minorities," Cruz said. "He
was annoying." Now Cruz has a home, a husband, two kids and a good
job. "Isaias knew me as little Judy, always in trouble," she said,
gently weeping. "Well you know what, little Judy grew up okay."
Among young Delgado's weaknesses were drugs. Then 15, he joined an informal
group of teens that would hang out in Mr. Rivera's apartment after church,
eat bread and coffee, talk religion and laugh a lot. Delgado straightened
out and set off on a path that would lead through the Albert Einstein College
of Medicine in the Bronx. He ran into Mr. Rivera at a church service
a few months after graduating. "You're a doctor now!" his mentor said,
sporting that familiar, infectious smile and bursting with pride. Mr. Rivera
used to say he had a vision -- all his students under his roof at once,
together with each other, with God.
It happened after his death. They packed the house, hundreds strong,
their own children in tow. "His dream came true," Cruz said. "All
the young people he had ministered to were in his house. But he wasn't
Surviving Mr. Rivera are his wife Nilsa, their daughter Lynnette, their
Isaias Jr., Adrian and Antonio, and three grandchildren.
-- Alexander Lane
2001 The Star-Ledger. Used by NJ.com with permission.
WCBS's Bob Pattison: A Zeal for Words
He was a rough and tumble guy who slugged it out with life. When he
joined the Air Force, everyone hoped it would straighten him out for good.
But Bob Pattison's restless spirit stuck around. "I began to see that dusting
himself off after battling his demons was really a strength," Brendan Pattison
said of his older brother.
In New York, Bob Pattison (always Bob, never Robert) tended transmitters
on top of the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building. Sundays
were for the crossword puzzle, which he always finished.
"He loved words," Brendan Pattison said. So much so, that he thought
of being a writer, then abandoned the desire even as he continued to embrace
literature. When his younger brother embarked on a writing career, there
was no envy, only support.
On Monday, Sept. 10, his supervisor noticed Mr. Pattison, 40, walking
with a spring in his step, which was unlike him. The supervisor inquired.
Mr. Pattison said that he had visited his family and held his 2-week-old
niece for the first time. "It was a gift," Brendan Pattison said.
Courtesy of THE
NEW YORK TIMES
WNET's Gerard "Rod" Coppola: The Rock 'n' Roll Grandpa
Already at age 12, he was a broadcasting nut. He bought a two-watt
transmitter, built a mini-radio station in his basement in East Orange,
N.J., and began broadcasting rock 'n' roll and personal musings throughout
the town. His friends loved it.
Gerard Coppola's love of broadcasting and music was the central thread
of his life. Mr. Coppola, who was also known as Rod and JRod, was
antenna engineer for WNET, Channel 13, on the 110th floor of the World
Trade Center's north tower. His Web site ‹ NJPeople.com/jrod
‹ lives on and features his doleful songs. Not only did he mix the songs,
but he sang and played all the instruments -- guitar, bass, keyboards and
"Gerard was a dreamer," said his sister, Cynthia. "These are the
people who are visionaries, who are risk-takers. They dare to listen
to their own voices."
As a teenager, he began playing in rock bands and writing songs.
At family gatherings, everyone wanted to hear him tell stories. "People
sought him out," his sister said. "He had a gift. He was like the
Pied Piper of the family."
At home, he sought to bring his love of music to his wife, Alice,
and their four daughters, Angeline, 20, Angela, 19, Delinda, 15, and Alison,
8. He would have turned 47. (on 12 november, 2001?)
"When his first grandson, Andre, was born five months ago," his sister
said, "he came to my house and said, 'Cindy, I can't wait for you to see
him. He's a gorgeous baby.' He said, 'I'm going to be such a cool
Profile published in THE
NEW YORK TIMES on November 12, 2001.
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