Taking On Responsibility
When Christian L. De Simone's father died of a heart attack 18 months ago, he was there for his mother, Christel. He left his position as linebacker for the Rams football team at the University of Rhode Island so he could have more time to commute to and from his home in Ringwood, N.J. After graduation, Mr. DeSimone, 23, moved back home and found a job as a forensic accountant at Marsh & McLennan on the 100th floor at 1 World Trade Center.
"He didn't have to take on the responsibility of the house, but he wanted to do it," Mrs. DeSimone said. "He was always like that. Just the other day, a 20-year-old neighbor came to the door to tell me that my son was his hero because he carried himself so wonderfully and he was so smart."
Mr. DeSimone was to have turned 24 on Oct. 18.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 8, 2001.
Christian DeSimone was no stranger to disaster areas. He assessed damage at disaster sites around the world, most recently after a deadly oil refinery fire in England.
The 23-year-old resident of Ringwood, N.J., was a forensic accountant for a firm headquartered on the 100th floor of the World Trade Center's north tower. His mother fears her son's familiarity with grim situations, coupled with a lifelong desire to help people, may have ultimately contributed to his death.
"I'm sure that, even if he had a chance to escape, he died trying to help people," Christel DeSimone said of her son, a onetime linebacker at the University of Rhode Island. "He was so big and strong and fearless, and he had such a sense of responsibility."
Which is why it was uncharacteristic that DeSimone woke up 45 minutes late and forgot his lunch on Sept. 11. It was also a reason to hold out hope--for a while, his mother thought the delay may have kept him from getting to his office before the hijacked planes hit.
"I talked to him for the last time on his cell phone on his way to work," his mother said. "I tried to convince him to come back to get the lunch, but he liked being in the office early."
Christian had followed his late father into forensic accounting and had been studying to take the certified public accountant's exam when the trade center was attacked, his mother said.
For several days afterward, his mother and 20-year-old sister, Martina, scoured Web sites and news reports for any word of his whereabouts. A group of 15 friends--including DeSimone's girlfriend, Jennifer--searched New York hospitals.
On Sept. 15, representatives from DeSimone's company, Marsh USA/Caps Group, informed his family that no one working above the 95th floor had been found.
"That's when I gave up hope," his mother said.
She said the family has plans for a memorial service but has not yet decided when to hold it.
"I'm not ready to bring myself to deal with it," she said. "People talk about closure, but I don't like that word. For me, this will never be closed."
Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
DeSIMONE - Christian "Chris" Louis, 23, of Ringwood, after working for Marsh McLennan for only one year, was lost to the World Trade Center Attack on September 11th, 2001. Chris grew up in Ringwood and attended Ringwood Christian School. Upon graduation from elementary school, Chris went on to Lakeland Regional High School where he excelled in academics and athletics. Having an attractive standing, Chris attended the University of Rhode Island where he studied accounting and German while also being a member of the University's football team. After excelling in post-secondary school and being named to the Dean's List, Chris quickly received a job to work for Marsh McLennan as an accountant on the 100th floor of Tower One. The premature loss of such a wonderful individual so loved and respected by all is society's loss. Words cannot express the potential of ths young man who had very high aspirations. All who knew him found him to be very friendly, loving, and determined. He will be deeply missed. Chris is the beloved son of Christel DeSimone (nee Bleiber) and the late Louis DeSimone, beloved brother of Martina DeSimone and dear friend of Jennifer Palmer. Chris is survived by his grandparents, Bertl and Helmut Bleiber, his uncle and aunt, Wolfgang and Heike Bleiber (Germany). He is also sadly missed by Louis and Hella DeSimone, John and Queenie Mesisca, Leo and Louise DeSimone, Mary Lenk, and Lucy Kavazanzjian as well as many other relatives and friends in Germany, Austria and the United States. A Memorial Service will be held to celebrate Chris's young life on Saturday, January 12, 2002 at noon at the St. Catherine of Bologna Church, 112 Erskine Road, Ringwood, NJ, (973) 962-7032 where Chris was a member. In lieu of flowers, a special scholarship fund in remembrance of Chris has been established to benefit a deserving student at Chris' alma mater, the University of Rhode Island. Donations may be made to the Christian Louis DeSimone Foundation, UBS Paine Webber, 133 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack, NJ 07601-6383.
Paid notice published in THE NORTH JERSEY RECORD on January 9, 2002.
Christian L. DeSimone, 23, a math sleuth
For two weeks in June, Christian Louis DeSimone traveled to Manchester, England, to do financial detective work.
A "forensic accountant" for New York-based Marsh & McLennan, Mr. DeSimone investigated an explosion at an oil refinery, tallying up losses in preparation for an insurance claim.
At other times, his work assigned him to travel elsewhere -- to Las Vegas, New Orleans, the West Coast -- to investigate the cost, in the financial sense, of other disasters.
"He loved numbers, you have to like numbers," said his mother, Christel DeSimone, of Ringwood in Passaic County, describing her son's passion for his work. Along with the numbers came the excitement of travel, and the satisfaction of dissecting catastrophes.
It was in such a tragedy, many times multiplied, that Mr. DeSimone died. Employed since January 2000 by Marsh & McLennan, Mr. DeSimone was working on the 100th floor of the North Tower when the first jetliner struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. He was 23.
Mr. DeSimone, who was known as Chris, picked up his love for accounting from his father, Louis, who died two years ago, family and friends said.
In his spare time, he enjoyed watching football, rooting for the Green Bay Packers and fixing up things around the house, said Jennifer Palmer of Wanaque, a friend since they were both freshmen at Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque.
A second-generation German-American, Mr. DeSimone graduated in 2000 from the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, where he majored in German and accounting, and played football.
A student internship led to a position with Marsh & McLennan after graduation. He worked briefly with a financial firm in Parsippany but relocated to the World Trade Center when that company was acquired by Marsh & McLennan.
On workdays, he usually awoke at 5:15 a.m., reading the newspaper and catching breakfast before leaving the house he shared with his mother at 6. He would drive to the NJ Transit station in Ramsey and take the train to Hoboken before catching the PATH train or ferry to Manhattan.
But on Sept. 11, both overslept, and he didn't leave until minutes before 7, forgetting his lunch in the rush. His mother called his cellphone, asking whether she should take his lunch to the station. The conversation lasted five minutes, and he said she need not trouble herself.
"It was the last time I spoke with him," DeSimone said. "We said goodbye, and that was it.
"They leave in the morning and they never return, that is the hardest thing to understand."
The tragedy has brought out the best in her neighbors, DeSimone added.
"The people here have been absolutely incredible for us," she said.
In addition to his mother, Mr. DeSimone is survived by his younger sister, Martina of Ringwood; his grandparents, Helmut and Bertl Bleiber, and other relatives.
A memorial service will be held at noon Saturday in the St. Catherine of Bologna Church, 112 Erskine Road, Ringwood. His body has not been recovered.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to a scholarship fund for students at the University of Rhode Island, at the Christian Louis DeSimone Foundation, UBS Paine Webber, 133 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack, N.J. 07601-6383.
Profile by George Berkin published in THE STAR-LEDGER.