Preserver of Flowers
At the house in Boonton, N.J., that Cecile M. Caguicla shared with her friend Maria Luciano, there are flowers everywhere — dried hydrangeas and other delicate varieties, suspended in time. Miss Caguicla knew how to preserve them so their beauty would never fade.
She chose them from the buckets filled with blossoms at the farmers' market that was always outside the World Trade Center on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. She was a steady patron of the market, buying baked goods from one vendor, cheese from another, stopping there on her way to morning Mass at St. Joseph's Church. On Sept. 11, "we separated at 8:10, and she was paying for a blueberry muffin," Miss Luciano said. "She always bought pastries for her office mates. It was a happy morning."
Miss Caguicla, who was 55 and had emigrated from the Philippines in 1975, was a vice president in the corporate accounting department at Marsh & McLennan. Her friend is planting a garden in her memory, with hydrangeas and sunflowers and geraniums — some of the flowers she liked best. There will also be evergreens, to last forever.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on April 21, 2002.
Cecile Caguicla, 54, 'Auntie Ces' to all
Cecile M. Caguicla took simple pleasures seriously.
As assistant vice president of finance for Marsh & McLennan Companies, she worked long and hard. When she came home to Boonton, she savored the routine of household chores in the yard and in the kitchen.
After parting on Sept. 11 from her best friend and housemate Maria Luciano, Ms. Caguicla went to Mass, as was her daily custom. Then she went to the 98th floor of One World Trade Center, where the first hijacked plane struck her office. Ms. Caguicla and 20 colleagues were killed in the attack, Luciano said.
Born in the Philippines, Ms. Caguicla, 54, attended private girls schools and graduated from Saint Paul's College in Manila. With her accountant's training, she moved to San Francisco and then to Astoria, Queens, in 1975.
In 1989, she and Luciano bought the ranch house in Boonton on a one-acre lot.
Known to friends and family as "Auntie Ces," Ms. Caguicla would play classical music for hours while working in the yard or brushing the in-ground pool.
"She likes the pool the most. It makes her relax," Luciano said.
On weekends, Ms. Caguicla tried her hand at cooking or she would indulge her gift for drying and arranging hydrangeas and other flowers.
One day this summer, she got so many compliments on the sunflower arrangement she created for her desk that she brought bouquets for the rest of the office, Luciano said.
Ms. Caguicla was also extremely private.
"I didn't know her age until now. I didn't know her salary. I didn't know she was an assistant vice president," said Ms. Luciano. "I only knew when she was named employee of the year."
Also surviving are five sisters, Nita C. Cruz of Boonton Township, and Mercy C. Chavez, Luli C. Rodriguez, Chona C. Soriano, Gerie C. Raña and her brother, Ricky M. Caguicla, all ofanila.
A memorial service will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 910 Birth Street, Boonton.
Profile by Rebecca Goldsmith published in THE STAR-LEDGER.