Christopher R. Zarba Jr.

Christopher R. Zarba Jr.
American Flight 11

A Curious Mind


Christopher R. Zarba Jr. was just a baby when the Boston Pops performed a piece composed by his father, "Palm Sunday," in 1954. The younger Mr. Zarba inherited his family's musical genes, and grew up to be a talented pianist and French horn player who performed with local symphonies in his free time. He even married a fellow horn player, Sheila Kiernan.

Mr. Zarba, 47, lived with his wife and young son, Christopher James, in Hopkinton, Mass., before he boarded American Airlines Flight 11. A software engineer by profession, he also painted, gardened, and learned to speak German and Italian fluently. He was perpetually curious, and even keeping algebra and calculus books around the house to read for pleasure.

"He was always investigating," said his only brother, Joe Zarba.

To remember Mr. Zarba, his father, wife, and brother-in-law performed "Palm Sunday" last month with the Thayer Symphony Orchestra in Fitchburg, Mass. His uncle sang the national anthem. Mr. Zarba, who had played with the symphony for more than a decade, talked about performing his father's work, but never got the chance.

"I think Chris would have just loved it," Mrs. Zarba said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 8, 2001.


Christopher Zarba came from a musical family. His father was a piano teacher in the Boston area and his uncle is a well-known Massachusetts vocalist. And while Zarba worked as a software engineer for a communications firm, music also played a significant role in his life--he played the piano and French horn. Zarba, 47, of Hopkinton, Mass., was aboard American Airlines Flight 11 when it crashed into the trade center.

Zarba was headed to Los Angeles to work on a computer system there for Concord Communications, said his father, Christopher Zarba. He was married and had a 3-year-old son, also named Christopher.

"The thing that's so sad about this is his son," Zarba's father said. "Those two were inseparable, and now he doesn't have a dad."

Since the tragedy, the already close-knit family has gotten even closer. They tell stories of Christopher, who would have turned 48 on Saturday.

They've also tried to cope by turning off the television, said Christopher's brother, Joe.

"It's a horrific experience watching your brother die over and over and over again," Joe Zarba said. "To know that he had a half-hour of terror on that plane is only helped by the fact that now he is in a better place."

The family held a memorial service over the weekend at a Catholic church in east Boston. At the service, Zarba's father played keyboards while his uncle, Frank, sang.

Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.




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