Security cameras caught Carol LaPlante going to early Mass on the morning of Sept. 11, before she made her way to the office of Marsh & McLennan at the World Trade Center.
It was a good start for her last day on earth, said her friend and fellow parishioner, Ann McCarthy. For Ms. LaPlante's real calling, "the star of her life," Ms. McCarthy said, was St. Francis and the art gallery in the lobby of the friary. Ms. LaPlante ran the gallery as part of the St. Francis Creativity Group for many years, and it was recently renamed for her. She would have been 60 today.
"She was a poet and an artist, and while her paintings tended to be very cheerful and flowery, the poetry we found after her death seemed to say she was ready to go," said Ms. McCarthy. "She wrote about going back to God, and of being a star in God's heaven." One of her poems, "Alice O'Connell's Candle," was written after the death last Christmas of another parishioner, a woman who wept as she lighted candles in the sanctuary. But Ms. McCarthy thinks it could be about Ms. LaPlante. Here is the final stanza:
So God has blown your candle out.
He has relit its light, no doubt,
Some place our eyes must wait to see:
A heaven's star he made of thee.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 30, 2001.