Danny will always be remembered in our family as a kind, loving and take-charge person. We all feel he must have been a hero. We miss him so much, but know he is watching over his family.
From the family of Daniel Van Laere
Dan was a wonderful and unique person. He could see things for what they were, and knew exactly how to take control of a situation without offending others.
He had a fine balance of qualities that were his greatest assets throughout his life. Dan was sincere, honest, kind and compassionate: all traits that drew people to him. He earned trust and loyalty from friends thru the actions he displayed. Dan was always there to lend support to his family, neighbors, business associates and friends--he always made time to help, contributing his full attention.
Dan had two credos that he repeated often, both delivered with his own brand of humor.
"No good deed goes unpunished,"
which only goes to prove that he gave of himself to others without expectations.
"Peace at any price,"
this, Dan actually said, was his Father’s line but Dan adopted it. Dan always chose his words and actions carefully because he was very much concerned with the feelings of others.
Dan believed in helping those in need, whether it was a neighbor in need of first aid, a friend in need of comfort, or a lost dog looking for its way home. If the cause was real, then, Dan would give his all to do what was right: he was pure of heart.
Dan left a lasting impression on his business associates as being a fun, compassionate person who added a little life and enjoyment to the office. Dan treated others as they themselves would like to be treated. He believed that with respect and encouragement, everyone could succeed.
From the fiancee of Daniel Van Laere
Glen Rock, and Beyond
When Daniel Van Laere was a kid in Glen Rock, N.J., his hero was a neighbor who was a volunteer firefighter. "We grew up seeing Bobby Barton running off to fires all the time," said Mr. Van Laere's brother, Paul, "and I guess it just captured Dan's imagination. He loved the whole aspect of it ‹ the trucks, the equipment, the potential of fighting fires and helping people."
At 18, Daniel Van Laere became a Glen Rock firefighter. Soon he was teaching rescue courses at the Bergen County Fire Academy.
But Mr. Van Laere did not go to the trade center on Sept. 11 as part of the rescue effort. He was simply putting in another day at the office. Mr. Van Laere, 46, was a risk analyst and underwriter at Aon Insurance, inspecting big buildings and resorts and writing reports on their fire safety.
His work took him all over the globe, from Texas to the Caribbean to Belgium. For a while, he had a 31-foot boat he kept at the Jersey Shore, and he and a former girlfriend and their golden Labrador lived on it in the summertime, ranging up to Rhode Island and down to Cape May.
But he never moved out of Glen Rock, where he bought a house and lived with his fiancée, and his family still remembers him as a local hero.
On the wall of his mother's house hangs a photo of a raging fire in a lumber yard. The picture shows Mr. Van Laere in the basket of a 60-foot boom atop a truck, feeding water down onto the flames.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 29, 2001.