'Good Man.' Good Voice.
That October night in 1977, Jean Rieger, a divorced mother with a 10-year-old daughter, got down on her knees and prayed to God to send her "a good man" to marry.
When she got up, the phone rang. On the other end was Jim Cleere, a divorced father of two sons, ages 12 and 10.
They married one year later.
Mr. Cleere, vice president of Seabury & Smith, a division of Marsh & McLennan, was in New York Sept. 11 for a meeting at the insurance brokerage firm on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center. Mr. Cleere, 55, was across the street at the Marriott Hotel when the first plane struck the north tower. He called his wife at their home in Newton, Iowa. They were on the phone when the second plane struck the south tower.
"He said he was O.K. and would be coming home," said Jean Cleere. "That was our last conversation."
Mrs. Cleere says her husband was a man of faith. "He had a deep, rich baritone and sang all the time," she said, mostly the old- time hymns.
She loved that voice of his. That's why she hasn't changed her answering machine tape. It has Mr. Cleere's voice on it.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 15, 2001.
I couldn't find much information on Mr. Cleere. I'm sure he was a fine man, husband, and father. He certainly didn't deserve to die a horrific death. I'm not much of a flag waving nationalist or patriot and I've been antiestablishment all my adult life but that doesn't mean I wasn't apalled, sickened, and enraged at the horrible murders that we now know simply as 9/11. I was, and still am.
Somewhere today, most likely in the small town that is Newton, Iowa, Mr. Cleere's widow and children are remembering and grieving once again the husband and father they so senselessly lost. And trying to understand it, and of course they can't, none of us can.
There have been few, if any, world events that have reshaped the world to the extent that 9/11 has. The world has been robbed of its sense of safety and security. On that day, America had the world's sympathy and heart. I don't want to get political here but I think we could have built from that, used it to bring the world closer together, perhaps worked together to pare the fanatics from the central core of goodness that makes up the vast majority of us who walk upright and just want to raise our families and love and be loved, eat, drink and enjoy what life has to offer. We didn't do that.
And now, tens of thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of others have become 9/11 victims. I'm not sure the world has ever been more afraid. I'm ashamed for our children, ashamed that thousands and thousands of children won't get to enjoy those simple pleasures. Killed, maimed, orphaned. It's just a god damned shame that the fanaticism and greed of two cultures who can't come anywhere near figuring out how to survive together or how to live and let live have so fucked it up for the rest of us.
Rest in peace Mr. Jim Cleere from Newton, Iowa. I think we could have been friends and I'm saddened that we were robbed of that chance.