Their names are engraved in bronze on the north pool panel of the 9/11 Memorial, where the World Trade Center’s North Tower once stood.
Angela Reed Kyte, N-11.
Larry John Senko, N-65.
Kenneth E. Waldie, N-2.
Kyte and Senko were born and raised in Washington County; Waldie grew up close by, in Bethel Park.
The three were among the nearly 3,000 workers, first responders and airplane passengers who died 20 years ago in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Their names will be read aloud, along with 2,983 others, at the national memorial service in New York City to commemorate the 20th observance of the most deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Two decades later, the family and friends of Kyte, Senko, and Waldie continue to grapple with their loss, and with the events that happened on that fall morning.
Nina Turton frequently turned to her big sister, Angela Kyte, for personal and professional advice.
Kyte, a 1969 graduate of Washington High School, was a regional director at Marsh & McLennan Co. She worked in Midtown Manhattan, but on 9/11, she traveled to the towers for a company meeting on the North Tower’s 90th floor.
“She was very outgoing, very social, a people person. She was driven to succeed in her career and worked very hard to get to where she was at Marsh & McLennan, but she was a mentor to a lot of women, including me,” said Turton, who lives in North Caldwell, N.J.
Kyte was one of five sisters – she was the middle daughter of the late Jack and Marjorie Vaira – and Turton was youngest.
The two lived about a half-hour away from each other in northern New Jersey, and often spent time together.
Two nights before 9/11, Kyte attended Turton’s daughter’s soccer game, and they went back to Kyte’s home for dinner.
Kyte mentioned she was scheduled to hold a meeting at the World Trade Center.
“I was driving to work that morning, and I can tell you the exact spot where I was when I heard that that first plane hit the World Trade Center. I instantly felt my stomach knot up,” recalled Turton. “To be honest, I didn’t think of Angela at first – I had friends who worked at the World Trace Center. But I also felt that something was terribly wrong.”
About an hour later, Turton’s mother called her from Washington, Pa., to tell her that Kyte’s husband, Roger, had called to let her know that Kyte had been inside the North Tower.
“I went instantly numb,” Turton said.
She left work and drove to Roger’s house.
“I remember there was hardly anybody on the road. I just remember seeing emergency vehicles driving east toward New York, ambulances from towns miles away,” she said. “I remember it being very quiet, no planes in the air, very little traffic. I sort of remember that numb quiet.”
Another thing that Turton can’t forget about that day is the blue sky.
“When I came home, I remember standing outside with friends, and the sky was so blue. It’s what I remember about that day,” she said.
That’s the reason she’s drawn to an art installation at the 9/11 Memorial Museum called “Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky that September Morning,” a wall comprised of 2,983 squares, each in a different shade of blue.
Turton said she is “a lot better now than I was 20 years ago.”
“I believe people stay with you, and I feel like Angela’s with me all the time. I know how she’d want me to to go on,” said Turton. “I joke with some of my friends and my sisters that I can feel Angela smack me in the back of the head and tell me to snap out of it when I’m down.”
Turton said her family was able to find closure when Kyte’s remains were recovered about seven months after the towers fell.
“There were so many who didn’t get that, because their loved ones were never identified,” Turton said.
Turton doesn’t watch television on 9/11, and she doesn’t follow coverage of the events.
“Initially, I’d start to watch things on TV, and I couldn’t anymore. I just don’t feel the need to watch it play out over and over again,” Turton said.
Usually, on the anniversary of 9/11, Turton visits a memorial site close to her home. The overlook offers a stunning view of New York City, and on Sept. 11, 2001, onlookers gathered there spontaneously.
There is a granite wall listing the names of all those who died, and after a morning service, a string band plays throughout the day.
“For the past few years, I got there every year. It’s convenient to where I work and where I live, and it’s very peaceful. I go there to reflect,” said Turton.
But this year, Turton is traveling on 9/11, so she will not be in the New York City area.
“It wasn’t intentional, but maybe it’s better that I won’t be home,” she said.
Kyte was a graduate of Lycoming College and served on the board of trustees. Shortly before she died, she and Roger started a scholarship, the Kyte Family Scholarship Fund.
The college has since established the Angela R. Kyte Outstanding Alumnus Award, given in honor of a graduate who has demonstrated a lifetime of service to humanity.
Turton mourns for the milestones her sister didn’t live to see, including watching Kyte’s son, Morgan, get married or meeting her grandchildren.
“I miss my sister. I miss having her nearby,” said Turton. “Her loss has brought home the fact that we never know when our last day is. She got up and went to work, certainly not knowing she wouldn’t come home. And she was one of 3,000 people who the same thing happened to. You have to live every day the best you can, and do your best. Take every day as a gift.”
Turton doesn’t want the memory of the events of 9/11 to fade.
“I just hope it doesn’t become a distant memory. We can’t forget those people who just got up one day and went to work and didn’t come back,” said Turton. “And there are thousands of other families who are still living with this, including the families of first responders who died or are suffering illnesses after digging through the site for months and months and months. We need to remember that it happened. It was a horrible day for our country.”
When Steve McGinnis first met Ken Waldie, the two played on opposing Little League baseball teams.
But even back then, Waldie stood out.
“He treated everyone the same, and he always offered encouragement and had something supportive to say,” said McGinnis, who now lives in Florida.
The two became close friends; Waldie served as best man at McGinnis’ wedding, and they vacationed together.
Even after Waldie settled in Massachusetts, they remained close.
“He was just a good guy with a great sense of humor, really witty. But he was also the most competitive person I knew: Whether it was ping-pong or anything, he wanted to do his best at everything he tried.”
Waldie was an exceptional swimmer at Bethel Park High School, and he also participated in track and other activities, including student council and the National Honor Society. He went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, and was a senior quality control engineer for Raytheon.
Waldie was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. He had been on his way to a business meeting in California when the plane was hijacked.
McGinnis, who was working as a salesman at a car dealership that day, was listening to the radio when he heard that a plane had struck the North Tower at 8:56 a.m.
He went inside and watched on television as the second airplane crashed into the South Tower 10 minutes later.
About an hour later, McGinnis left work and went home, where he “was glued to the television.”
About 5:45 p.m., a friend called to inform McGinnis that Waldie’s mother had told him Waldie had been on board the first plane.
McGinnis was devastated.
He recalls heading outside with a golf club, swinging the 6-iron while he walked and thinking about Waldie.
Later that night, he and three of Waldie’s friends went to visit Waldie’s mother.
“That was hard,” said McGinnis. “None of us expected it to hit that close to home. 9/11 was brought right into our lives.”
Waldie, 46, left behind his wife and four children.
On the way to Waldie’s memorial service, McGinnis and about six other friends who crowded into a van, tossed around the idea to start a scholarship fund.
“We talked about the kind of man he was, and how we could honor Ken, so we said, ‘Let’s start a scholarship.’ I wasn’t really ready to end my friendship at that point,” said McGinnis.
The result: The Ken Waldie Memorial Fund, which to date has disbursed $142,000 in scholarship money to Bethel Park High School students.
McGinnis said the scholarship fund will end after its 25th year, and estimates it will have awarded more than $220,000 during that time.
“We were way more successful than I ever thought we would be, and it’s a tribute to Ken, to so many classmates, and so many people ... who write us checks and help every year,” said McGinnis. “We did it for Ken, to celebrate his life.”
Waldie’s life and death also impacted McGinnis’ family. His son, Brendan, serves as a U.S. Navy pilot.
McGinnis said that for a long time, every airplane that flew overhead made him think about 9/11 and Waldie.
“I’d look up at it, and it brought me back to that day. I have great college and work friends, but my best friends are still my high school friends, and I cherish my friendship with them and Ken the most,” said McGinnis.
In June, McGinnis traveled to New York City to visit the 9/11 Memorial for the first time.
There, he saw the engraved name of Waldie.
“I didn’t know how I’d react. But standing in front of Ken’s name, looking out at the reflecting pool, I felt complete peace,” said Waldie. “Nothing in my life has been more powerful than that.”
Larry John Senko
In the borough of Donora, a walking trail in Palmer Park is named after Donora native Larry Senko.
Senko, who collected Jerry Garcia ties and loved tacos and the Grateful Dead, was vice president for Alliance Consulting. He was attending a business meeting on the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower when Flight 11 crashed into it.
Senko was trapped in the conference room, but called his wife, Debbi, to tell her he loved her and that he would come home.
“He was such a nice young man. You couldn’t find a nicer family than the Senko family, and you couldn’t find a better young man than Larry,” said Tom Kostolansky, who was the family attorney for Senko’s parents, Ed and Marge, and was a family friend.
Kostolansky said he can still picture Senko, who played football at Mon Valley Catholic High School and St. Francis University, in his football uniform.
One of Kostolansky’s daughters attended Mon Valley Catholic with Senko, and Senko had served as an altar server at St. Dominic Parish.
Kostolansky recalled that it was Senko’s brother, Ed, who called him on 9/11 to tell him that Senko had been in the World Trade Center when the attacks happened.
Senko, who was 34, left behind his wife and a 1 1/2-year-old son.
Kostolansky said he doesn’t believe Senko’s parents, who are deceased, ever recovered from the loss of their son, and their grief was compounded because Senko’s remains were never recovered.
“In my perspective, they were just never the same. That was just absolutely devastating for them,” said Kostolansky.
Kostolansky is grateful the borough named the walking trail in Senko’s memory.
“It’s a peaceful place, and a nice way to remember Larry,” said Kostolansky.