With Her Son Again
In her native Colombia, Sonia Ortiz was forced to work as a seamstress from an early age. After she immigrated to the United States in 1971, she landed a job as a janitor at the World Trade Center and eventually was promoted to run the freight elevator serving Windows on the World.
With her earnings, she bought a tidy two- story brick house in Flushing, Queens, that she filled with fanciful knicknacks, including place mats with pictures of cherubs, and porcelain figurines of fairy tale characters. "Everything we have today is because of her," said her son, Victor.
In the photograph that her children have posted on bulletin boards of the missing, Mrs. Ortiz is dressed demurely in her work outfit -- white blouse and black bow tie -- and is holding a Spanish-language book about life after death. Her children said she became fascinated with that subject after her son, Wilson, died of a brain aneurysm nine years ago, at 26.
"She was absolutely convinced there is a God and an afterlife," said her daughter, Alexa Ortiz. "She always said she wanted to be up there with my brother. If there's any comfort, it's knowing that she's with him now."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 9, 2001.