I Remember Joseph W. Flounders and his wife Patricia Flounders

Bio Joe was an employee of Euro Brokers Inc., located on the 84th floor in the South Tower. He was known by his co-workers for his dry sense of humor and for being extraordinarily helpful to his colleagues. Tributes left at the company’s 9/11 Memorial Web Page are testimony to his friendliness and good character. For example this one from H. Foster:

 

I valued Joe’s coverage in many ways. He was a tireless professional and a friend. I admired him as an ardent civil-libertarian. I will sorely miss our talks of core issues affecting our nation. Those that were so poignantly highlighted by the manner of his dying. Those supreme constitutional guarantees of our basic freedoms of speech, assembly and the right to bear arms. WE’LL MISS YOU, JOE.

Researching Joseph Flounder’s story quickly turned up the fact that his tragic death was more than his beloved wife of 21 years could bear. Inconsolable with her loss, she took her own life on Monday, December 10, 2001.

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This New York Time’s article on her passing tells the heartbreaking story of their life together, and is a poignant tribute to them both:

A NATION CHALLENGED: THE UNCONSOLED; Widow of Sept. 11 Victim Kills Herself in Their Just-Finished Dream House
 By GLENN COLLINS 
Steadily and inexorably, the confirmed death toll from the World Trade Center terrorist attack continues to rise. But it cannot be limited to those who were lost on Sept. 11.

On Monday, the body of Patricia Flounders, the 51-year-old wife of Joseph Flounders, a money-market broker who died when the second tower of the trade center collapsed, was discovered in their home in East Stroudsburg, Pa., after she had taken her own life. Their friends and relatives are in mourning, of course, but there is anger as well. ”She died as a result of the collapse of the twin towers just as surely as if she had been standing next to Joe on Sept. 11,” said Dean Curry, a family friend. He added, ”She felt she could not live any longer without her husband of 21 years, and she went to join him.”

Mrs. Flounders died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Monroe County coroner said yesterday. Theirs was one of those New Orleans-Brooklyn love stories. Initially, Mr. Flounders met Patricia Vallette over the telephone in 1977. He was the broker for the bank where she worked, American Bank in New Orleans, the city where she had been born and raised. They began meeting for dinner whenever she traveled to New York. And ultimately, he wooed her away from the city she loved. After they married a few years later, they took up residence in Brooklyn Heights.

Their priorities changed after Mrs. Flounders learned she had cancer. ”Had it not been for him ministering to her,” Mr. Curry said, ”she would not have survived.” In an interview for a biographical sketch of Joseph that appeared in The New York Times on Nov. 29, Mrs. Flounders said that her health problems spurred her husband ”to find a better quality of life for both of us.”

They both wanted peace. They yearned for fresh air. Her son from a previous marriage was grown, with a family of his own. ”I was a cancer survivor and my husband felt that we’d both do better in the Poconos,” she said.

And so, three years ago, they moved to eastern Pennsylvania. But the relocation had consequences. Every weekday morning Mr. Flounders rose at 3:30 a.m. so he could be at his desk at Euro Brokers Inc., on the 84th floor of 2 World Trade Center, by 8:30. They both bought into the trade-off, though. ”The house was his sanctuary,” she said in the biographical sketch. ”We’d been working on the house three years, and three days before he died, we finished it.”

It was painful for her to discuss with others the events of Sept. 11. ”He was supposed to be playing golf in Westchester at a tournament that morning,” she said, ”but instead he went into the office to make a few trades. I was watching television and saw the first plane hit Tower 1, and I got on the phone with Joe and told him to get out. He said, ‘O.K., I’ll call back as soon as I get downstairs.’ ” But, he told her, he was staying to help a co-worker who was hysterical and in shock. And so, on Dec. 1, the Flounders’s friends and relatives found themselves at ”A Service of Remembrance and a Celebration of the Life of Joseph W. Flounders,” as it was called on the printed program distributed that morning at Trinity Church, on Broadway at Wall Street in Manhattan.

Occasionally, through the ceremony, the congregants could hear faint echoes from the din of the recovery effort at ground zero a few blocks to the north. They sang ”Amazing Grace,” recited the Lord’s Prayer and listened to an impassioned homily by the Rev. Milton C. Williams Jr., which left many in tears. ”I had hoped that the service would bring her some peace and closure,” said her brother Norman Vallette, ”but it didn’t happen that way.”

She is survived by her son, Christian Croner, of Staten Island, N.Y., and two grandchildren, as well her brother Norman, of New Orleans; another brother, Richard Vallette of Slidell, La.; and a sister, Evelyn Bernard of Lafayette, La. At her husband’s memorial service, Mrs. Flounders stood in black at the head of the receiving line, solemnly and tenderly thanking all who had come to the church, and asked people to attend a reception at Fraunces Tavern, in the financial district. Mrs. Flounders explained that she had selected the landmark tavern as the site for the reception ”because they, too, were once bombed,” she said, referring to the 1975 bombing by a Puerto Rican nationalist group in which four people died and more than 60 were injured.

”We thought it would be appropriate to have it there,” she said, ”since they suffered, as well.”

(Cross posted on Blog for Cuba)

 

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