Douglas MacMillan "Doug" Cherry

Douglas MacMillan Doug Cherry
World Trade Center

Bengals All the Way

The shoes always told Douglas MacMillan Cherry's secret. Only a devout Cincinnati Bengals fan would be seen in a pair of orange Converse sneakers painted with black tiger stripes. Sure, people stared. But Mr. Cherry did not care. The Bengals were the team he learned to love as boy growing up in Cincinnati. When he could steal a few days away from his job at AON Insurance, Mr. Cherry would even fly back to Cincinnati to watch his Bengals play.

He loved only one thing more, his family, his wife, Sarah, and their children, Emma, Isabel and Jack. "He loved his family and he loved the Bengals. That was his life," said Burns Patterson, his brother-in-law. At a makeshift memorial created near his home in Maplewood, N.J., friends posted a letter to honor Mr. Cherry. "We all know the one thing Doug would have wanted from us. We will always take care of Emma, Isabel and Jack," the letter read. It then made a disparaging, though affectionate, reference to the Bengals.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 1, 2001.

Doug Cherry moved east for love and for work.

The woman who captured his heart at Ohio Wesleyan University, Sarah Patterson, grew up in Manhattan. Cherry, meanwhile, sought a career in business and felt New York was the place to be.

"He really wanted to hit the world head-on," said Fred Wynne, who met Cherry in college and was one of his best friends.

Cherry found personal and professional success on the East Coast, but he never abandoned his Midwestern roots, Wynne said.

One of his passions was steeped in his hometown of Cincinnati: his season tickets to Bengals football games.

But mostly, Cherry spent his time with Sarah, whom he married in 1988--three years after he graduated--and their three children, ages 3, 5 and 7. They lived in Maplewood, N.J.

Cherry, 38, wasn't famous. But to family and friends, he personifies all too well one of the greatest tragedies of Sept. 11: He was a devoted and loved family man in the prime of his life, suddenly snatched from his spouse and children.

"The guy did so much, truly, but every single moment he had at home was family time," Wynne said. "He lived a real focused and disciplined life."

Brother-in-law Burns Patterson said, "Our family just felt Doug was the best thing that ever happened to Sarah."

An accomplished swimmer and avid golfer, Cherry helped organize everything from office charity fundraisers to annual golf outings with old friends. In college he was president of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi.

Cherry spent the summer of 1984 working as a runner at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Cherry traveled often for his job as vice president of the professional services group at Aon Corp. But two calls he placed to his wife Sept. 11 from inside the World Trade Center confirmed he was in the building that day.

A funeral was held in New Jersey last week, and a memorial service was held over the weekend in Ohio.
Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.

Douglas MacMillan Cherry, insurance exec

Taped to a stone wall at the South Mountain Reservation -- now a memorial to the victims of the World Trade Center attack -- are several letters to Douglas MacMillan Cherry of Maplewood. One writer reassures the 38-year-old that his wife, Sarah, will receive help in taking care of the couple's three young children -- Emma, Isabel, and Jack.

"It's beautiful that things are being placed there because that was an area that Sarah and Doug loved and visited with their children," said Mr. Cherry's brother-in-law, Burns Patterson, 41, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

Mr. Cherry, vice president of Professional Services Group at Aon, an insurance company, was in his office on the 104th floor of Two World Trade Center last Tuesday when a hijacked jetliner crashed into the building.

"He was able to say goodbye and express his love for Sarah and the children in a final phone call," Patterson said.

Born in Wooster, Ohio, Mr. Cherry was a graduate of Mariemont High School in Cincinnati and received a bachelor's degree in economics from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1985.

"This guy was full of energy and life and attracted people to himself. But he also had fantastic Midwest values and principles," said Fred Wynne, 38, of Madison, who attended college with Cherry and was a member of the same fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi.

Before joining Aon, the 15-year insurance industry executive worked for Marsh & McLennan, a finance and insurance firm with offices in the North Tower, and another insurance firm, Alexander & Alexander of New York.

Friends said family was Mr. Cherry's first love, however. Good with his hands, he had just helped renovate the family's colonial home.

"Their house was always such a home. It was always warm and inviting and welcoming. He was the true definition of a family man," said Jane Randel, of Maplewood, who along with her husband, Charles Kliment, 37, recalled fun-filled evenings of barbecuing on the Cherry's back porch.

In addition to his wife, children and brother-in-law, Mr. Cherry is survived by his parents, Douglas and Anne of Terrace Park, Ohio, and two sisters, Meg Smith of St. Louis, and Barbara Schenck of Xenia, Ohio.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church, 800 Ridgewood Road, Maplewood. Arrangements are by the Jacob A. Holle Funeral Home.

The family has requested that donations be made to the Cherry Children Fund, P.O. Box 222, Maplewood, N.J. 07040.

Profile by Angela Stewart published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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