Project 2996: James P. O’Brien

There were four O’Briens who died in the September 11th attacks, and they all looked just like O’Briens do. There are a tonload of O’Briens out there named John or James, with middle names like Patrick and Michael. (There used to be a lot of Conns and Corneliuses, but not so much, these days.) We are all remote relatives to each other, and every so often family resemblances pop up, in how we look and even how we act.


James P. O’Brien started in the mailroom at Cantor-Fitzgerald at the age of 22. (Which means he was probably present for the previous World Trade Center attack.) He had moved up quickly to become a bond trader. He worked hard all day, and then he hurried to get home on time, so he could walk the dog. He had a live-in girlfriend of seven years, whom he apparently treated just as if they were married. She had had two babies already, and he had no problem treating them like his own. After seven years, they had a baby together. They lived a “normal life.”

He’s buried in Brooklyn. Please remember and pray for him, and for the little family he left behind.

I can look at the shape of his face and his complexion and see my own brothers. He loved his dog.

Somewhere along the line, we are all members of the same Irish clann. I am sorry we never met.

“For the seven years I’ve known him, we’ve basically done nothing but be at home together,” Lisanne MacKenzie said of James P. O’Brien Jr. “There were two children in the house, babies when he moved in, and we live really modestly in a three-room apartment. We don’t have a country house, he doesn’t golf, he was totally normal: come home from work, hang out in the house, do nothing, watch TV, hang out with the kids on the weekend.”

Their first child together, Aiden, was five weeks old on Sept. 11.

Mr. O’Brien, 33, started out in the mailroom of Cantor Fitzgerald when he was 22, but soon moved up to become a bond broker.

“He was very disciplined,” she said. “He walks into the house at 6:10 on the dot, and was up every morning at the same time. He was very structured with his time.”

And every evening, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., he would take the couple’s Rhodesian ridgeback, Roadie, known as the Road Dog, for walks in Prospect Park, near their home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he grew up.

“The dog cried every single night, all night long, for two weeks after this happened,” Ms. MacKenzie said. “The dog was very attached to him.”

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 16, 2001.


Filed under 2996

2 responses to “Project 2996: James P. O’Brien

  1. Pingback: Remember the 2,996 on 9/11 | Aliens in This World

  2. Pingback: Project 2996: Fifteen Years After | Aliens in This World

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