Jim Cleere

Jim Cleere
World Trade Center

'Good Man.' Good Voice.

That October night in 1977, Jean Rieger, a divorced mother with a 10-year-old daughter, got down on her knees and prayed to God to send her "a good man" to marry.

When she got up, the phone rang. On the other end was Jim Cleere, a divorced father of two sons, ages 12 and 10.

They married one year later.

Mr. Cleere, vice president of Seabury & Smith, a division of Marsh & McLennan, was in New York Sept. 11 for a meeting at the insurance brokerage firm on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center. Mr. Cleere, 55, was across the street at the Marriott Hotel when the first plane struck the north tower. He called his wife at their home in Newton, Iowa. They were on the phone when the second plane struck the south tower.

"He said he was O.K. and would be coming home," said Jean Cleere. "That was our last conversation."

Mrs. Cleere says her husband was a man of faith. "He had a deep, rich baritone and sang all the time," she said, mostly the old- time hymns.

She loved that voice of his. That's why she hasn't changed her answering machine tape. It has Mr. Cleere's voice on it.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 15, 2001.

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