Tessa Lucero

In Memory of the CPCU Society Victims

All photos © Drunell Levinson. All rights reserved.

The insurance industry suffered the loss of over 500 people on September 11, including a number of insurance professionals who held the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation. To achieve the CPCU designation, one must pass ten three-hour essay exams (risk management, personal insurance, commercial property, commercial liability, insurance company operations, law, management, accounting, economics, and an insurance elective), meet stringent ethical and experience requirements, and swear to place the public interest above one's own. It's roughly the equivalent of the CPA in accounting or passing the bar in law; though it's not required for the practice of insurance, being much more difficult than earning a state agent's or broker's license, it is an achievement and an honor. I've been a CPCU since 1989, and I wanted to make the quilt to honor the fellow CPCUs who perished on that day. I may have met some of them at CPCU conferences; I know I hadn't met all of them, but we were all insurance professionals.

All sixteen were CPCUs, ranging from Gayle Greene and Chuck Mathers, who had held the designation for over 20 years, to Mike McGinty, who had finished his last exam in June and was scheduled to go to the conferment ceremony and annual meeting in Seattle six weeks after 9/11. Some were fellow employees of the company I work for, though I did not put their employers on the quilt; we leave our company affiliations at the door at meetings and work together to further insurance knowledge and professionalism, though we may be rivals for a particular client's business outside the meeting. Ten of the sixteen were with Marsh, four with Aon, one with the Port Authority, one with Devonshire Insurance Group. They ranged in age from 37 to 61. There were eleven men and five women, married and single, gay and straight; a number were parents, and a few were grandparents. Angela Kyte was the top-ranked graduate in her class; Gayle organised an annual dinner for all her colleagues who were CPCUs; Gary Bird had just joined the company and was in New York for two days of training before returning to his home and regular office in Phoenix. Tom Duffy was in for a meeting from Rochester, Angela from Morristown, Mike from Boston. Mark Charette and Jerrold Paskins were visiting the World Trade Center from other offices, while Barry Glick and Joann Heltibridle worked in the first tower to get hit, and Alan Friedlander, John Doherty, and Mark Hemschoot were stationed at the top of the south tower. Patricia Cody was only 46 and had risen to managing director at the world's largest insurance brokerage while simultaneously raising children — she did live to see her daughter get married last summer. Rich Catarelli taught classes at the College of Insurance. Catherine Salter was the head of the Speakers Bureau for her local CPCU chapter.

The only things they had in common were that they all held the CPCU designation, and they all died that sunny morning as the towers collapsed.

Tessa Lucero          

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