L. Russell Keene III

L.  Russell Keene III
World Trade Center

'I Know Just Where He Is'

L. Russell Keene III, a 33- year-old equities analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods, was such an avid sportsman that he once hiked through New Zealand for two solid months. "He has plenty of stamina to survive," said his wife, Kristen, who is offering him more than just spiritual support. The other day Kristen, who lives in Westfield, N.J., was escorted by Union County sheriffs to the disaster site outside 2 World Trade Center. Instead of standing there offering respectful witness, "I wanted to go dig him out," she said, "but they wouldn't let me. I know just where he is." Two other employees from Bruyette escaped from an elevator jammed near the lobby, and reported that Russell and 15 others were alive inside. Then the building collapsed. And so, while Kristen and other Bruyette relatives tried to lobby the rescuers to dig near the elevator, she remembered the man she met six years ago in Ocala, Fla., saying simply: "I loved him from the start."
Profile courtesy of THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Russell Keene III, 33, loved the outdoors

Leo Russell Keene 3rd was an outdoors maven -- he spent months hiking New Zealand nearly a decade ago -- so a week-long trip to Cape May this past summer was good medicine for the financial analyst often captive at his desk.

So in August, Mr. Keene and his wife, Kristen Marie, brought their infant daughter, Mazalee, to the Jersey Shore. There, they stayed at an old mansion, padded through the surf and gobbled seafood -- another of his favorite activities.

Mr. Keene, an equity analyst at Keefe, Bryette & Woods, perished in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. He was 33.

An employee of the financial firm for two years, Mr. Keene was at work on the 89th floor of the South Tower when the first jet hit the North Tower.

Earlier that morning, Mr. Keene, a Westfield resident who went by Russell, kissed his wife and daughter good-bye before he left for work, as usual, at 5:30 a.m.

Kristen Keene next heard from her husband moments after the first jetliner struck, when he called from his office to tell her to turn on the television.

There was some initial confusion over what caused the explosion, his wife said. "I told him, bomb, plane, it doesn't matter -- 'Get out!'" she said.

Mr. Keene and several co-workers got into an elevator, but when the second plane hit their building, the elevator plummeted, braking only just before the ground floor.

Several co-workers escaped after the elevator was pried open, but the tower collapsed before Mr. Keene could get out.

"Basically, Dean (Eberling, Mr. Keene's boss) and Rus saved them (the co-workers)," his wife said. Eberling did not survive.

Mr. Keene's work, analyzing companies in the electronic brokerage industry, was a passion, Kristen Keene said. "He loved the challenge of it," she said. "He liked taking apart a company and figuring out where it was going."

Before joining Keefe, Bryette & Woods, he worked with Eberling as a research associate, studying traditional brokers and money management firms for Solomon Smith Barney and other firms. He began as a junior analyst at Prudential Securities in 1996.

Born in Sulphur, La., Mr. Keene was a 1985 graduate of Mary Immaculate High School in Key West, Fla. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Tampa in 1990 and an MBA in finance from that school three years later.

Although talented at numbers, Mr. Keene also felt the lure of wide open spaces. He trekked the New Zealand wilderness for two months in 1993, stopping off in Australia as well. In memory of that trip, he collected boomerangs.

From his days in Tampa, Mr. Keene picked up a love for windsurfing, said his step-father, Allan Grimm of Dallas, Texas. Why the love of the outdoors? "It was just in him, I guess," Grimm said.

And for some reason -- his wife wasn't quite sure why, since there is not a school or hometown tie -- Mr. Keene was always a big fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In addition to his wife of seven years, Kirsten Marie, Mr. Keene is survived by their 2-year-old daughter, Mazalee Morgan Keene; his parents Leo Russell II of Linville Falls, N.C., and Susan Grimm of Dallas, Texas; two sisters, Jennifer Ann Clyde of Sulphur and Krista Sue Keene of Houston, Texas; and his grandfather, Leo Russell Keene of Sulphur.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in the First United Methodist Church, 1 E. Broad St., Westfield.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to a college fund for Mr. Keene's daughter, to Merrill Lynch, 1 Progress Plaza, No. 1400, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33701.

Profile by George Berkin published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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