John W. Farrell

World Trade Center

His Town, His Home

He got up every weekday morning before the sun rose, drove his beat-up truck to a Basking Ridge, N.J., train station glittering with Lexuses and Volvos, and began an hour-and-half commute to Lower Manhattan. There, in an office tower that sometimes swayed in the wind, he put in long hours as a managing director for the Sandler O'Neill investment banking firm.

It took another 90 minutes to get back to that old truck. But then John Farrell would be truly home.

There, in Basking Ridge, was his wife, Maryanne, who caught his eye way back in the 70's at Bernards High School just down the road. There, too, were his four children; the oldest was 12, the youngest just 3.

"He grew up in a small town, met his wife in a small town," said Bob Bush, the best man at his wedding and a friend from high school. "He wanted his children to have the same experience that he had in a small town."

Bob Kumpf, another high school friend and now a Basking Ridge police captain, agreed: "He made the trek into the city everyday, those long hours and that long commute, because it was the best thing for his family."

At 41, John Farrell knew the value of simple things. At one of many backyard gatherings, surrounded by family members and old buddies, he leaned over and said: "You know what, Kumpfy? It doesn't get any better than this."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 10, 2001.

John Farrell, 41, so proud of his family

John W. Farrell would be exhausted after working long hours at Two World Trade Center but still find the energy to steal away weekends with his four children.

Meagan McDowell, Mr. Farrell's sister-in-law, said he would scoop up Kaitlin, 11, Patrick, 9, Molly, 5, and Colin, 3, and drive them to a family hotel so they could watch movies, enjoy room service and swim and lounge at the hotel pool.

The children would spend quality time with their dad while their mom spent quality time with a friend, McDowell said.

The Farrells loved to romp on the beach, and Mr. Farrell liked napping with his kids and taking them on errands, his sister-in-law said. She said he was so proud of his kids he held them with their faces outward.

Mr. Farrell, 41, was torn from his Basking Ridge family last month when a hijacked jetliner struck the South Tower, where he was working as a trader for Sandler O'Neil & Partners.

His friends and sister-in-law remember him as a warm person who enjoyed simple activities that bonded him to those he loved.

"Getting together at a picnic or a house party was John's idea of a good time," said friend Bob Kumpf of Bernards Township. "He would say: 'It doesn't get any better than this.'"

Mr. Farrell was born in New York in 1960 and raised in Gladstone. He attended Bernards High School, where he met his wife, Maryanne. The high school prom queen and king married in 1984.

The Farrells were deeply in love, said Bob Bush, a Mendham friend who served as best man. He remembers the Farrells embracing and dancing outside the church to Irish music. "He had a fantastic time because he loved his wife and family," Bush said.

Besides his wife and children, Mr. Farrell is survived by his parents, Michael and Dolores Farrell; two brothers, Michael and James; and two sisters, Nancy Platzer and Maureen Bertuch.

A memorial Mass was held Sept. 28.

The John W. Farrell Children's Memorial Fund has been established. Donations may be sent: C/O James G. Farrell, P.O. Box 434, Madison, N.J. 07940.

Profile by Towanda Underdue published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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