The Proof Is in the Ducks
David A. J. Rathkey wanted all the soccer he could get. So he played year-round on an over-40 team. Naturally, his twin sons, Matthew and Ian, played, and so did his daughter, Emma. Who was their coach? Him. If there was practice and that meant leaving work early, well, soccer was that important.
The last few years, it was too overwhelming to coach everyone, so he concentrated on his daughter's travel team, the Mountain Lakes Electrics. "If anyone was injured or upset, he always made a point to call them later to see how they were," said his wife, Julia. "They were very fond of him."
Mr. Rathkey, 47, a sales executive at IQ Financial Systems, lived in Mountain Lakes, N.J., a small place with only 4,000 residents, many of whom Mr. Rathkey touched. The proof was in the ducks.
To raise money for the Rathkey children and the children of Alayne Gentul, another Mountain Lakes resident killed in the attacks, a competition known as the Great Duck Race was staged, with hundreds of rubber ducks in a local stream. A duck could be bought for $250 or a smaller contribution. Some 800 people showed up. The race raised more than $100,000.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 29, 2001.
David Rathkey, 47, a passion for soccer
When the Mountain Lakes men's soccer team took the field on Sunday against Millburn, both teams sported black armbands and heavy hearts. David Rathkey should have been on the Mountain Lakes side, playing a game he loved so much.
It was one of two passions in his life, the other being his wife and three children.
"He loved his kids; he loved doing things with them, like coaching them in soccer," said Mr. Rathkey's best friend Dennis Nelson.
But his daughter's youth soccer team, named by Mr. Rathkey as the Mountain Lakes Electrics, also had to do without him on Saturday. David Rathkey, a 47-year-old sales executive with IQ Financial Systems, was in his 80th floor office at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 at the time of the terrorist attacks.
Family members, feeling it was a private matter, declined to reveal the details of their final contact with him.
Born in 1954 in Eton, England, Mr. Rathkey grew up in Maidenhead, Berkshire. His first job as a financial trader with Barclays took him to the Jersey Isles and Cardiff, Wales, before a career change landed him in the United States in 1981. He took a job with Arbat Systems in Hoboken, met his wife, Julia, and eventually moved 13 years ago to Mountain Lakes.
Described by friends as a quiet and intelligent gentleman, he became a fixture in the community, someone who ran on local roads and paths to keep in shape, and was a regular fixture on the town's soccer fields.
"He really enjoyed coaching. David was very up front and honest with the kids," said his friend Art Muti, who coached soccer with Mr. Rathkey.
On Saturday, at Julia Rathkey's urging, the Mountain Lakes Electrics took to the field, as she felt her husband would have wanted the game played, said Muti.
Nelson, a New Zealand native, recalled his friend's enthusiasm for soccer. "When they took the English Premier League games off TV, off channel 57, he was outraged. I think he ever wrote to them," said Nelson, laughing, who recalled Mr. Rathkey's favorite team was Tottenham Hotspur.
On Sunday, the players on Mr. Rathkey's over 40 men's team signed a memorial card. The words of one player, said Nelson, were the most poignant: "A little bit of the English gentleman now resides in all of us."
Mr. Rathkey is survived by his wife of 15 years, Julia; a daughter, Emma; two sons, twins Matthew and Ian; his mother; two sisters; one brother; his mother- and father-in-law; 14 brothers- and sisters-in-law, and 13 nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Mountain Lakes. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be sent to The Rathkey Children's Trust Fund, c/o Carrico Associates, CPAs, 170 Changebridge Road, Unit C5-4, Montville, N.J. 07045.
Profile by Lawrence Ragonese published in THE STAR-LEDGER.