Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tribute to a Life: Brian Williams

Brian Williams, age 29

Brian Williams, native of Edgewood, KY, has become a legend in in my hometown.  A graduate of St. Pius X grade school and Covington Catholic High School, Brian was well liked and respected by his classmates and many friends.  Some thoughts shared about him include:
“Brian was such a great guy, I don't think there was ever a time when there was not a smile on his face!”
“I remember going to the Williams house for Kenny's famous chili! Brian will always hold a very special place in my heart! The day my sister died Brian called me from Columbia University to let me know he was thinking about me and praying for me. It touched me so much! He was such a great friend!!”
“Brian really had a zest for life,” his father said. “He worked very, very hard, but he also was able to enjoy life. He really cared about other people.”  Williams recalled the first weekend of Brian’s freshman year.  “My wife and I got up and went downstairs about 7:30 on a Saturday morning and there’s Brian studying already and he’d only been in high school.”

Brian excelled in academics and athletics and was a "That's My Boy" award winner, given by northern Kentucky football coaches to the best scholar-player- leader (a prize now named after him). Brian was a 3 sport athlete in high school and the football team captain.  Back when Williams played for Cov-Cath, a little 9-year-old boy named Joe Danneman was in the stands, to witness Williams, make a huge play.
"1989 he was a star tight end at Covington Catholic High School," said Danneman, recounting the game as if it was yesterday. "It was a Friday night, traditional season opener, it was always Cov-Cath versus Boone County, Cov-Cath's down a point late in the game, they have one person to go to, it's Brian Williams, the star tight end, catches a pass, goes 30 or 40 yards to the following end zone, the south end zone at Boone County High School. It was a rainy night and Brian Williams was the hero."
The school honored his number 81 Friday night at their football game versus Boone County.

Columbia University recruited him for football. In New York, he acted as unofficial tourist bureau for visiting Kentuckians.
As a college senior, Brian Williams used his was given a credit card by his father for emergencies.  Brian used the card to pay a bar bill for three cash-strapped buddies. He sent a check to repay his father, with a note explaining the charge. "Three of us walked into a bar and none of us had any money.  I figured that was an emergency," the note said.
In September 2001, Brian Williams, 29, worked as a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, with the ultimate plan of returning to the Cincinnati area near his family's home in Edgewood.
As the Williams family got Brian's affairs in order, they also discovered that he'd been very generous to a number of charitable organizations in the New York area.
"One was a Native American school for Native American children and then the other was an organization that sent inner-city kids down in Manhattan out to camps for a week of summer fun outside of Manhattan," Williams said. "He had been doing that for several years."

Some tributes from for Brian:
“I just wanted to let you know how much I looked up to you for your ability to handle yourself so well. Moreover, you always treated everyone you came across with kindness and respect. I am glad I chose someone like you as a role model...I am a better person for knowing you.  Please look after all of us down here, because we look up to you now more than ever!”
~ Jim Danneman

“I, like many others, met Willy during my brief time at Columbia University. As football teammates, we had many good times on the field (even if we weren't often victorious); but I was blessed to share many good times off the field with Brian as well.

After I transferred from Columbia, I returned to the campus and coincidentally ran into a group of guys that included Brian. Even after two years away, Brian's friendship shone through as we chatted about all that had happened in the interim. At one point, as others in the group sought to leave (as all of them were headed to catch a plane), Brian softly reminded them that "there'll be other flights." My girlfriend at the time remarked specifically about what a fantastic guy Brian was.
I met many terrific people at Columbia, but few (if any) were as genuinely friendly and caring as Brian. I mourn his death, but celebrate his life and all that it stands for. 
Brian will never be forgotten. “
-Mike Murray
San Antonio, TX

Kenneth Williams Sr., a man who has lost two sons — Kenneth Jr., who died in 1994 after three years in a coma caused by a fall, and Brian, now, with the 9/11 memorial completed Williams wishes he had one more chance to see and talk to his sons.
He said he'd give Kenny a bear hug and tell him he loved him. The same goes for Brian, but the father would like to ask the son what happened in the chaos that followed the plane hitting the North Tower.
"I would like to know how he felt and how he was," Williams said.
Now that 10 years have come and gone, some people fear America has become complacent about homeland security.  To counter that possibility, Williams said he wishes that video of the towers being attacked was shown every morning as a reminder that the people who perpetrated the act are still out there.
“They want to do that again,” he said. “I think sometimes we need to look at that film – that and the Pentagon and Pennsylvania -- and say, ‘Hey! Look at what they tried to do and they’re going to try it again and again and again.’”
“We ought to wake up to it every day,” Williams stated.
Out of respect for Brian’s father’s wishes, here is a video of footage from that day.  

2,996 people perished in the attacks on September 11, 2001.  Each one has their own story.  Some short, some long, some extraordinary, some ordinary.  Each priceless and precious in their own way.  Share their stories today, honor their lives.  If you have a tribute to make, post it at the 2996 Project.  

God Bless the USA and God Bless the World.

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