Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, September 11, 2006

James Patrick White, 34, bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald...

That single line doesn’t begin to tell you about this wonderful man I’ve met over the past few weeks. James Patrick White, called Whitey by all of his friends, was the firstborn of five children, three boys and two girls. Born June 22, 1967, he grew up in a house of love, a role model to his younger brothers and sisters. He also knew how to dress to impress, even at a young age.

He not only enjoyed school, he excelled in his classes. He was driven and had a real thirst for knowledge that showed all through his life. He set goals for himself then strived until they were accomplished. He had a real love for reading, yet he wasn’t just a bookworm; he also enjoyed many sports, including tennis and learning to ski at an early age.

Jimmy was chosen as the speaker at his eighth grade graduation. The speech was entitled “Beating to a Different Drummer”. That was something that always applied to Jimmy’s life. He really started to shine in high school.

Jimmy was a B student at Hightstown High School. He, like many of us, found things he’d rather be doing than studying. Being a typical high school student, he spent time goofing off with his friends, occasionally getting into trouble for breaking curfew or drinking. On the other hand, he excelled in sports. He played varsity tennis in high school, winning the state championship. Even after graduation from college he stayed close to his high school buddies.

Jimmy came into his own in college. He got excellent grades, yet had time to have fun. He joined the Alpha Tau Omicron fraternity at Clemson University. His page in the ATO pledge book reads: “The real difference between men is energy. A strong, settled purpose and an invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the distinction between great men and little men.” This statement fit Jimmy perfectly.

One roommate said Jimmy had a wonderful sense of humor. You couldn’t be around him without smiling and laughing. Another friend said he always had a smile on his face and a friendly greeting. I can believe that; every photograph I’ve seen shows him smiling like he just got a great Christmas present. He could always be counted on to see the bright side of any situation. He had a warmth in his eyes and joy in his soul. Yet that fierce determination never left him. Jeff and Jodi Jacobson said they’d never met anyone so sure of himself. Once he took a friend to the top of the Empire State Building. As they looked out across the skyline, Jimmy pointed out the Twin Towers. He said, “One day, I’m going to work there.” There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would.

His fraternity brothers looked up to him as a leader as well. One of them wrote that they learned three lessons from Jimmy about how you should treat people.
1. Make people laugh. Jimmy always put people at ease when he was with them.

2. Share. Jimmy would share anything he had with anyone who was in need.

3. Look for the good in everyone. Jimmy was open-minded and non-judgmental. He took the time to find common ground with everyone he met. He valued the opportunity to get to know people from different backgrounds and people with different interests and opinions.

One of his friends wrote “Heroes touch lives everyday through the selfless passion by which they choose to live their lives. Jim White grew into such a hero. We all could learn from those words he wrote... live your lives with passion!

That he did. He loved to watch Clemson football, even climbing the walls with his friends to get in when they didn’t have tickets (naughty naughty!) He drove a ‘69 cherry red Mustang convertible, but always seemed to have trouble with the “clutch jutter”. He sold it in college because it couldn’t handle driving back and forth to Jersey. He continued his love for skiing, taking on the double and triple diamond slopes, as well as the moguls.

He enjoyed mountain biking as well. He once took a biking trip in Utah through some pretty rough terrain. He ran in the NY marathon three times, twice with brothers and once by himself.

He enjoyed attending all sorts of sporting, and non-sporting, events. He rarely, if ever, missed the U.S. Open, feeding his love of tennis. He also managed to get tickets to the World Series, and to see Bruce Springsteen in concert, as any good Jersey boy would. He wasn’t quite immune to getting into mischief, however. Such as the time in 1995 when he and his friends were asked to leave Madison Square Garden during the women’s WTC Tennis Tournament for being inebriated.
Jeff Jacobson once said Jimmy had a natural courage that created a steady, unwavering way about him. He didn’t seem to be afraid of anything, and he made life an adventure for all who came in contact with him.

Jimmy even challenged himself overseas. He ran with the bulls in Pamplona, and also took on the “Walk of Kings” in El Chorro, Spain with Craig and Al, two of his friends. Here’s Al’s description of that challenge:

When Jim, Craig and I were in Spain we went to "the walk of Kings" in El Chorro. It is a tattered old walkway two feet wide at it's widest area with no hand rails and some complete sections missing, leaving any hiker with decisions to make on how to get through. This walkway is suspended hundreds of feet above a gorge from sheer cliffs. It is one of the more unusual and beautiful places that I have ever seen. Toward the beginning of the walk is the most terrifying obstacle that I have ever seen. With 30+ pound backpacks you had to face the wall and inch your way along this sheer cliff. When we arrived at a ninety-degree turn in the cliff, the walkway was broken away leaving nothing but a two-inch wide piece of steel resembling a single railroad track. Craig had done this walk years before and paused before this obstacle looking pale and very frightened and told me to go take a look. I walked forward, looked at what was ahead and returned to Craig shaking as if I had just seen a ghost. Jim was next to approach the obstacle; without pausing, he stepped out onto the steel rail, leaned forward against the sheer wall and disappeared around the corner.
When we finally rested at the bottom of the gorge, I shared my thoughts with Jim and asked why he did not pause at the first obstacle. He had a completely different view of our days activities. To Jim, this was one big challenge and he had to overcome his fears.

Along with his adventurous nature, he had a penchant for practical jokes. Once he pranked a friend who had fallen asleep outdoors by turning him so he’d only sunburn on one side of his body. Once he stacked empty drink cans on a friend at a tennis match so they’d fall when he moved. Naturally he’d just happen to move during the quietest part of the match.

Jim graduated from Clemson University in 1989 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and minor in Finance. He got an apartment in Hoboken, called the “Youth Hostel”, which he shared off and on with his brothers Mike and Greg as well as a host of other family and friends. He started working for Cantor-Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center, fulfilling one of his dreams from youth. He became one of the youngest partners in Cantor’s history. A co-worker of Jim’s, Rich Bolton, described Jimmy this way:
I met Whitey when he first came to Cantor from Clemson. He arrived with the thirst for knowledge and the enthusiasm of a kid in a toy store. Jimmy moved up the ranks quickly due to his work ethic and desire to be the best. In no time he was offered a position as a broker on the Ten Year desk. When all hell broke loose and the pressure was on we all had our ways to cope. You would look over at Whitey and he’d be standing there, hair a mess, helping some other broker out of a position while covering one of the busiest customers in the room, logging his trades, typing in orders, yelling at the top of his lungs what was being said on whatever trades that were going on, so all could hear and never missing a beat. God it was fun.
He was extremely focused and intense at work, but he still had time to laugh with his friends. Unlike most office workers, at the end of the day they didn’t go their separate ways; they were a second family. They often went out after work and spent time just enjoying life.
And after all that, he still had energy enough to attend classes at night and on Saturdays, earning an MBA through St. John’s, where he graduated with highest honors and a near-perfect GPA.

At that point in his life, he contemplated pursuing another career path, but after talking to his boss, he decided to stay. He was working the day of the 1993 bombing and had to walk down stairs from the 105th floor - an experience which rattled him, but didn’t deter him from his goals.

After being a free-wheeling bachelor for years, Jimmy was finally thinking of settling down. He had a girlfriend who worked with him at Cantor-Fitzgerald. Her name was Amy O’Dougherty. They were only beginning their relationship together, but the feelings for each other were already deep. She was a friendly, fun-loving Irish girl, who had the energy to keep up with him. They were both working on September 11, 2001.

I’ve learned a great deal about Jimmy White. I’m sure I would have liked him. His passion and enthusiasm for life is seldom found these days. I never met him, but I do miss him. He made his family proud.

There have been two endowment funds set up in Jimmy’s name. The Jim White Clemson Endowment Fund was set up to provide scholarships to outstanding students at Clemson University. The Jim Endowment Organization was set up to provide educational scholarships to Hightstown High School students who exemplify the leadership skills and exceptional drive that Jimmy possessed as a student. This will insure that Jimmy will be remembered for many years to come. I know I’ll never forget him.

thank you. what a great guy
What a wonderful tribute to one of the many incredible people who lost their lives through an evil attack on innocent people. Never forget...Carol
A great tribute. I can't beleive the people that Cantor Fitzgerald lost. I too did tribute for some of their employees.
Kelly, a fellow 2996er
I remember
Thank you for the beautiful tribute for my son, Jim.I appreciated all the time you spent. Jim was very successful, but he never put his career before his values. Being a bond trader was such a cut-throat profession,but Jim always helped others first. This was what I was most proud of. He commented to me once that;" He never had to (as the saying goes) step on anyone to become successful".You captured that trait in your tribute & I thank you. I miss Jim & as a mother I would have willingly changed places with him.Thank you again for the great job that you did.
This was really touching ...thank you.
... beautifully done... great job...

thank you for posting this.
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Like old goo times... Good to remember that times...
It is such a nice feeling to recall real life stories that we ourselves has experienced. I love reading biographies since it will make me learn more about life and how to live it well.

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