LIVINGSTON, NJ — This year’s annual 9/11 ceremony in Livingston will go remote-only due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Every year since the September 11 attacks, the township has held a ceremony of remembrance in the 9/11 Living Memorial Garden on Memorial Oval.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ceremony will be a closed event,” town officials stated in a news release. “Please visit the township website at www.livingstonnj.org/9-11-Memorial for updates regarding the ceremony, livestreaming on the Livingston Township, NJ Facebook page, and filming by Livingston Television (LTV), for broadcasting at a later date.”
A total of seven residents from Livingston died in the attack on the World Trade Center. Town officials provided the following background about each victim.
Luke A. Dudek
Wine and Flowers – Age 50
Education: Mr. Dudek grew up in Livingston and graduated from Fairleigh Dickenson in 1973 with a degree in Psychology, majoring in organizational management and quantitative analysis.
Career: Mr. Dudek was proud of his position as food and beverage Comptroller for the prestigious Cellars in the Sky and Windows of the World restaurants in the World Trade Towers.
Personal Memories: Working with his life partner George A. Cuellar, Luke was in the process of extending their flower business, Conqui Design Inc., to their own building in Cedar Grove. After taking a week’s vacation completing the renovations, Luke went back to work in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. He died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Jeffrey Brian Gardner
He Always Seized the Day – Age 36
Education: Jeff was a graduate of Livingston High School and Rutgers University.
Career: Mr. Gardner was an environmental insurance broker who worked for Marsh and McLennan. He also found great joy in his work as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. He built houses on his vacations and weekends in Newark, Honduras, and Brazil. He described his “great days” when he saw the excitement of the faces of the new homeowners.
Personal Memories: Jeff has a sizable tattoo of the sun on his ankle. His family said he believed, “There are no bad days, only good days and great days. There is always sunshine.” Jeff was described as a big kid whose “toys” included two motorcycles and numerous power tools. He also read the Torah, the New Testament and the Quran. Jeff embraced life with all his strength.
Donald Thomas Jones II
Brimming with Confidence – Age 38
Education: Donald attended Collins Elementary School and Heritage Junior High School and graduated from Newark Academy where he excelled. After graduating from the University of Richmond in Virginia, he began his career at Cantor Fitzgerald.
Career: Mr. Jones began working at Cantor Fitzgerald at the bond desk. His brother Will Jones said Don was a “consummate salesman” which explains how during his seventeen years of the brokerage firm he rose through the ranks to become a partner. During the 1993 bombing of the WTC, he helped a pregnant women down the stairs — a journey that took 2 ½ hours.
Personal Memories: Mr. Jones spotted Michele Ramirez on her first day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald and immediately declared he would marry her. A year later they were married, and they soon had two children — a daughter Taylor and then a son Donnie. A true family man, Don would race home from the office to play catch with Taylor and work with his son on his mountain bike. He taught his children his favorite Aerosmith songs and how to play Blackjack. “There’s no ‘Go Fish’ happening in this house,” he joked.
Donald was the son of Judith and Donald T. Jones, former Livingston Chief of Police.
On a mountain bike trek with his best friend, Jim Borkan, Donald stopped by a sun-dappled pond and smiled at the scene and said “I love my life.”
A Teacher at Heart – Age 41
Education: Ming-Hao studied at the Cheng-Kung University in Taiwan. In 1985, he pursued a master’s degree in civil engineering at Rutgers University.
Career: Ming-Hao Liu worked for Washington Group International helping to design the Monorail at Newark International Airport, as well as a new airport transportation system for JFK Airport. He worked on the reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line. He was the senior staff engineer.
Mr. Liu was on the 91st floor of Two World Trade Center when the building was struck by a hijacked airplane. While other employees of the firm were able to make it to safety, Mr. Liu did not.
Personal Memories: Mr. and Mrs. Liu had two sons, Allen, 2, and Austin, 7. Mr. Liu was the principal of the very successful Livingston Chinese School. Much to the disappointment of his sons, instead of bringing them gifts (which he had already purchased) after a trip to Taiwan, he found 50 textbooks for his school. He left the gifts for his sons with his mother-in-law because they couldn’t fit in his suitcase. Mrs. Liu explained “It’s not for himself; it’s always for other people. He wants to make things good.” Mrs. Liu remembers her husband as a caring man with an inquisitive mind and leadership qualities.
Joseph P. McDonald
Brainy, Brawny, Balanced – Age 43
Education: Born in Brooklyn, Joseph was a Livingston resident since 1989. He was a graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. In high school, he was a standout in baseball, basketball and later on in college, rugby was added to his sports resume.
Career: Mr. McDonald worked for many years as a broker of financial services for Garvin, Guybutler Ltd. and Garban LCC before joining Cantor Fitzgerald. He was at work at the World Trade center and died with many other associates in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
Personal Memories: For most of his life, Joseph was known as an outstanding athlete with an intellectual understanding of how to be a winner. In his later years, he changed his focus from clients to his wife Denise and his daughters Kathleen and Brigid as well as his parents, Joseph and May. Weekends were spent hiking and being part of the girls’ soccer and softball games. “His athleticism was God-given, and he had a good time with it, but it didn’t define his life,” said his father. “What defined his life was his marriage and fatherhood.”
John M. Pocher
A Details Guy – Age 36
Education: John graduated from Seton Hall Preparatory School, Seton Hall University, and Fairleigh Dickenson University. He grew up in Livingston.
Career: As a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald, Mr. Pocher was known for his ability to play close attention to detail. He was always aware of when and where bonds in his sector were trading.
Personal Memories: John is described by his wife Laura A. Grygotis, MD as a very thoughtful person who was loving and devoted. They enjoyed traveling, as well as spending “quiet time” together. Vacationing at the Jersey Shore was a favorite destination.
Kenneth Albert Zelman
Family First – Age 37
Education: Ken graduated from Livingston High School and Rider University.
Career: Mr. Zelman was a software consultant for Oracle Corp and had been working for a year-long at Marsh and McLennon on the 99th floor of the North Tower. He was known to arrive early and stay late, but the most important thing in Ken’s life was always his family. As he was leaving for the train to NYC on September 11th, his 14-month-old son was blowing kisses to his daddy.
Personal Memories: Weekends were always set aside for family outings to craft festivals, the zoo, and ice cream parlors. Family vacation in August was spent on Long Beach Island, where Ken spent hours building sand castles. His daughter Olivia, 4, was “daddy’s girl”. Ken would put her to bed and they would make up stories to tell each other. It was her routine to throw her arms around him when he walked in the door after work and call out “Daddy’s Home!”
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