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Remembering 9/11: 10 Years Later

Welles Remy Crowther ’99 completely and heroically fulfilled the University’s mission of “men and women for others”

09/08/11
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Jefferson Crowther pauses at his son's name at the 2003 dedication ceremony for the University’s memorial labyrinth for alumni killed on 9/11. Jefferson and Alison Crowther (back to camera), along with their daughter Paige attended the event. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Reid Oslin | Chronicle Staff

Published: Sept. 8, 2011

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, members of the Boston College community discussed with Chronicle their reflections on 9/11.

Perhaps no Boston College graduate has so completely and heroically fulfilled the University’s mission of “men and women for others” as Welles Remy Crowther ’99.

Crowther, an economics major and varsity lacrosse player as a BC undergraduate, was working as an equities trader for the investment banking firm of Sandler O’Neill and Partners, LP, at an office high up in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, when the second plane struck the building at 9:03 a.m.  

Crowther, who was also a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Nyack, NY, wrapped his trademark red bandanna around his face to help him breathe through the smoke and debris, and organized a rescue effort to guide more than a dozen survivors down the building’s stairwells to safety. He twice returned into the burning building – once carrying an injured woman down 17 floors to safety – and then joining a New York Fire Department team on their way back up the tower to free victims still trapped under debris. He was killed when the building collapsed at 9:59 a.m.   

“That was the nature of Welles Crowther,” said his father, Jefferson Crowther. “The good Lord put him here knowing that he would be needed at some point. And, when the time came, Welles stepped up. He did what he had to do and he did it well. There is nothing else I can say.”  

The Welles Remy Crowther Trust has been established in his memory. “We make grants and gifts to organizations that work with young people to help those young people become exemplary adults,” Jefferson Crowther said. One of the many recipients of the benefits of the trust is Boston College’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center.   

“Welles loved helping young folks,” Jefferson Crowther said. “Before he was working on Wall Street, he volunteered as a tennis counselor and coach at a day camp for indigent kids in our community. When he was at BC, he was a member of the student athletes’ group that worked as big brothers in the Boston community. He just loved doing it.   

“Anything he could do to work with young kids and help them along, he was delighted to do.”  

“Boston College was such an incredibly huge and influential part of his young life,” said his mother, Alison Crowther. “His experiences there truly forged the fine character of the young man as fully as we could have wished as loving parents.”  

“I can tell you that Welles loved Boston College,” Jefferson Crowther said. “He loved it deeply. He would often tell his BC roommates, ‘When I make millions of dollars, I am going to endow a chair in the economics department or pay for a building or something.’ He always thought that would be his legacy.  

“But, no,” he said softly. “His legacy is what he did in the last hour of his life.”

The University will honor Welles Crowther’s legacy with two upcoming events:

  • 6,000 red bandannas – signifying Crowther’s 9/11 heroics – will be distributed to students attending Saturday’s Boston College-Duke football game, the first home contest after last Sunday’s 10th anniversary commemoration of the 9/11 attack. Members of the Crowther family will be present at Alumni Stadium and will be introduced during the game.

  • The seventh annual “Red Bandanna Run” will be held on campus on Saturday, Oct. 15 starting at 9 a.m. The 5K race is co-sponsored by and will benefit the Boston College Volunteer and Service Learning Center and the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust. Complete information and registration forms are available at http://www.redbandannarun.com/race.html.

To see an ESPN tribute to Welles Crowther, click here.

Click here to read the second story in our series, an essay written by Caroline Ogonowski ’09, MA’11, daughter of John Ogonowski, the captain of American Airlines Flight 11