Sept. 23, 2004 • Volume 13 Number 2
A 'Fitting Tribute' for a Hero
BC alumni sponsoring guide dog in name of Welles Crowther '99
Several Boston College alumni are sponsoring the training of a guide dog they have named "Welles" in honor of a BC graduate who lost his life while attempting to save others during the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
Welles Crowther '99, an equities trader on the WTC South Tower's 104th floor, was killed after leading dozens of fellow employees to safety in the aftermath of the attack.
"Welles," the five-month-old black Labrador retriever who carries Crowther's name, has begun the two-year training program that will enable her to guide blind people or perform other service tasks. The puppy - who earlier this month visited the Boston College memorial for Crowther and other 9/11 victims - is being raised by a family in Lexington and is scheduled to begin advanced guide dog training in New York next year.
Larry Ladd, a 1989 graduate of the Woods College of Advancing Studies, has worked with potential guide dogs for many years. He and his wife Ruth have raised six puppies that have gone on to complete guide dog training.
The Ladds helped raise money from other alumni to underwrite the dog's training at Guiding Eyes for the Blind Inc., a Yorktown Heights, NY, program that has been providing guide dogs since 1956. Sponsors who contribute $5,000 to the guide dog training program are allowed to name one of the puppies selected to participate.
"This is a fitting tribute to Welles Crowther," Ladd said.
The dogs, mostly Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers or German shepherds, spend their first 14 to 18 months in a family environment, learning basic obedience and adaptability. During this period, they are exposed to crowds, traffic and other normal distractions to prepare them for the advanced guide training.
"Welles" accompanied the Ladds on a visit to the Boston College campus on Sept. 11, the third anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy. The Ladds brought the dog to the University's Memorial Labyrinth, where Crowther and 21 other alumni who died in the tragedy are honored. The Ladds then walked "Welles" - as part of her acclimation training - though the crowd of 40,000-plus fans who were filling Alumni Stadium for the BC-Penn State football game that evening.
Welles Crowther, who like his father was a volunteer fireman in his hometown of Upper Nyack, NY, always carried a signature red bandanna in his pocket. He had tied the red cloth over his face as he helped lead his co-workers to safety in the burning tower.
"Welles" wore a similar red bandanna around her neck the night she visited Boston College. -Reid Oslin •