Their Own Pied Piper
Some police officers wear their profession like a second skin. Not Michael T. Wholey. "If you asked Mike what he did, he'd say he worked for the Port Authority," said his wife, Jennifer. If pressed, she said, he would say he had put in eight years with the Port Authority Police and looked forward to retiring when their three children finished college. "He was an excellent police officer," she said, "but it didn't define him."
What did define the 34-year-old officer, say those closest to him, was the way he was with children, his own and those of others. "He was like a Pied Piper," said his sister Bernadette. The minute he pulled up in his driveway at home in Westwood, N.J., he was surrounded by children begging him to take them to the park.
Officer Wholey's sharp family focus was accompanied by a refined maturity that had long impressed his friends. "Years ago, there were times when we'd be sitting in a pub without even enough money to pay the bar tab," said Jim Cunneen, a friend since the seventh grade. "Mike would be saying: `What? You don't have life insurance!' "
His closest friends expected Officer Wholey to always do the proper thing. The Friday before Sept. 11, they were not surprised when he missed their annual golf outing because he went to a retirement party for another Port Authority officer. "He knew that guy was going to retire only once," Mr. Cunneen said, "but he'd get to see us many times."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on August 11, 2002.