Green Room

Project 2996: Philip Haentzler remembered

posted at 10:46 am on September 11, 2009 by

Taking part in Project 2996 is something I’d considered doing in the past, but considered it a waste on the dormant blog bearing my moniker. Now that the Green Room has seen fit to include myself amongst their talented and articulate numbers, it shouldn’t be a waste. My assignment is a man by the name of Philip Haentzler, and during my research, found an article that gave a sterling account of his life. Leah Karnatski painted a vivid portrait of Mr. Haentzler in the Staten Island Advance, two weeks after the tragedy. Here is a re-print, since I’m doubtful I could better attest to the man.

Every morning for nearly two decades, Philip Haentzler would get up early and make a pot of coffee. He would pour a cup, place it on the table with a spoon, and peruse the New York Times for stories relating to social work.

If he found one, he would place the story, face up, on the table next to the coffee and wait. It was a ritual, but it wasn’t for himself.

Mr. Haentzler, a resident of St. George, did this every morning for his love, Patricia Thompson, who would wake up from a peaceful slumber once the powerful and soothing aroma of morning reached her.

Now, the social worker hardly sleeps, and she’s been sipping her treasured morning coffee alone since Mr. Haentzler became one of the missing victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

Mr. Haentzler was a legal administrative officer for Kidder Peabody/UBS Paine Webber on the 101st floor of Tower 1.

“I started my day with Philip, and I ended my day with Philip,” said Ms. Thompson. “He was so supportive of me, and gave me a love so grand that it pains me to realize he’s no longer with me.”

Born in Manhattan, Mr. Haentzler was brought to Queens as a baby. His parents were born and married in France, and Philip attended Lycee Francais on the Upper East Side. All of his classes were in French.

He had an immense talent for languages, Ms. Thompson said. Already fluent in French, Latin and Spanish, he was working on his German. He was also a voracious reader and “read everything he picked up,” she said.

Mr. Haentzler earned a degree in history from Haverford (Pa.) College, and a degree in paralegal studies from New York University. After college, he spent three years in Paris trying to make it as a writer.

An aspiring playwright, he kept his work at the office, so Ms. Thompson never had a chance to read his newer, incomplete projects. He finished a one-act play about the American Revolution that was critiqued by the former Minstrel Society of New York in the 1980s.

The couple met at Kidder Peabody in 1983, when she was a legal secretary. “He had piercing eyes,” she said. “Our first date was on St. Patrick’s Day. We went out for a drink after work, and went out every night after that.”
They frequented puppet shows, off-off-Broadway theater, and often went to a film house in Greenwich Village that showed short films. The audience would sit on pillows to view the films, after which Mr. Haentzler loved to critique them for hours. “He was a walking encyclopedia,” Ms. Thompson said. “We talked all the time, and had a perfect relationship as far as communication.”

In the fall of 1983, he was transferred to a Kidder Peabody office in Houston, and Patricia followed. They remained in Texas for seven years.
After returning north, they rented an apartment in Manhattan, but moved to St. George the following year because the commute was easier. They bought a house next door to their apartment building in March 2000, where they could share their morning coffee on the balcony off the main floor.

The couple preferred outdoor vacations, and visited towns throughout Pennsylvania together. “We both preferred a rustic vacation,” said Ms. Thompson. They also traveled to Vermont, Lake Placid, N.Y., and Canada and had recently purchased a time-share condominium in the Delaware Water Gap, Pa., area. A favorite destination was a certain mountain resort in Pennsylvania, which Mr. Haentzler had visited many times as a child. When his father died, he spread his ashes there.

“This was a very sacred spot for him. He created a memorial for his father there.” Patricia said.

In addition to Ms. Thompson, Mr. Haentzler is also survived by his mother, Madeleine Debolt.

It’s both poignant and fitting that Mr. Haentzler was fluent in so many languages. It’s important to remember that, while sentiments may have changed in recent years, that many nations stood with us eight years ago, and shared our pain. The fiends attacked not only America, but the free peoples of the world.

My deepest sympathies are with Patricia, his loving wife, as well as with his mother, Madeleine. My hope is that they will be able to meet with Philip again, in another time, another life.

My sympathies and hopes are also with all who lost a loved one on this day. May there never come another day like it.

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Well done. And thanks.

juanito on September 11, 2009 at 2:07 PM