Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memory of Howard “Barry” Kirschbaum - A Life of Family, Friends and Service

Howard "Barry" Kirscbaum - Missed by Friends and Family

Barry Kirschbaum lost his life in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. Barry likely started that tragic morning like so many other mornings during his previous four years working in the upper reaches of one of the world’s tallest buildings. Barry was the Director of Security for Marsh & McLennan, he was in charge of 20 officers who took care of floors 93 through 100 of Tower One. Marsh was directly below the offices of Cantor Fitzgerald. Tower One was the first of the Center’s towers to be hit; I have a friend who was on the fiftieth floor who was knocked several feet out of his chair, and he’s a big guy.

I never knew Barry but after spending a few evenings searching for and reading snippets of his life through the words of friends and loved ones I feel honored to be writing this post. The comment that seems to sum up all of his friends thoughts was left by a woman Barry dated before meeting his wife Rochelle; she described Barry as a “mensch”, the Yiddish word for a good guy. Indeed Barry was a mensch.

In 1972 Barry joined the New York City Police Department and eventually rose to the rank of Detective, he retired after twenty-five years in order to start a second career at Marsh & McLennan. During Barry’s time on the Police force New York City underwent dramatic changes that often wound up (as usual) putting the city’s Police force on the front lines of society’s problems. During his third year on the force the city of New York even teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. The posts left by his friends and colleagues resonate with Barry’s gift of gab and the gift of his friendship. I am sure that twenty-five years on the New York City Police force gave Barry a nearly endless font of material to amuse and inform his friends and family.

Barry’s path in life was service and friendship; twenty five years as a NY City policeman is more than yeoman’s service yet it was probably tough for him to leave all of his friends behind. Although it did take more than leaving a job to keep him away from those old pals, his daughter Lauren, now 27 said that “He knew every restaurant and what to order and who to go with.” In New York that alone is a full time job. All of his friends wrote of how much fun he was to spend time with, whether in the Kirschbaum home in Staten Island or in one of New York’s many restaurants.

There has been a very small but vocal minority of Americans who have disparaged the WTC victims during the past few years by stating that they deserved their fate. A few have actually used slurs to describe those victims. It should be noted that Barry’s service in the WTC helped a group of people who were transferring risk in a manner that has been critical to the advancement of individuals in our modern economy. Barry’s employer Marsh & McLennan provides insurance services; those services allow products and services to be offered to consumers at lower prices. Everyday products like mortgages have been made more widely available enabling more Americans to enjoy the benefits of home ownership. Those critics simply do not understand our modern society. Barry spent the last years of his life protecting those people who help to facilitate the modern commerce that is improving the lives of so many.

Barry was a lover of family, good friends, good jazz, good brandy and a good cigar. In memory of Barry I plan to have a little bit of brandy, put on some Thelonious Monk and smoke a stashed Cuban cigar this evening. All that is left is say a prayer for Barry, his family and his friends.

Barry’s New York Times obituary can be found here.

If Barry’s family or friends would like me to add to this post please contact me at

This post was written in conjunction with thousands of other bloggers who were organized by D. Challener Roe at Many thanks to Dale for putting so much work into organizing this project.


Blogger Carrie said...

That was a beautiful tribute. Through your words, I feel like I almost know him and he sounds like a great man. Thank you for participating.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Shelly said...

That was a wonderful tribute. Thanks for sharing!

Tribute to Cora Holland

11:30 AM  
Blogger Shekky said...

Thank you for sharing Barry's life.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Mark Base said...

Very thorough, and very beautifully done. Hope you didn't overdo your evening with Thelonius though.

7:01 AM  
Blogger kateandjona said...

Thank you for sharing Barry's life with us all.

Jonathon's Closet remembers Robert Levine.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Mummy said...

Thanks for sharing this, it was very moving. Hope the cigar, brandy and thelonius rocked, I'm sure it did.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Kathie said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful man with us. Reading through and participating in the 2,996 project has made the tragedy of 9/11 solidify names and faces into people I'm sorry I didn't have the opportunity to know but have become intimate with thanks to all of the people who made an effort to share each individual. It's been an intimate journey.

Jimmy Audiffred: Let the Light Shine.

Other tributes: Frederick Kuo Jr. and Francis Nazario as well as here, also Juan Salas.

Please pass the candle by sharing other tributes while leaving kind words in the comments of blogs paying tribute to the 2,996 lost on September 11th.

God bless,

12:15 AM  
Blogger Kristy said...

Wonderful tribute. thank you for putting yet another face and life to a number

I remember Simon Weiser

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A wonderful man with a wonderful heart as we said for years"I'll see you when I get there"!!

Never ever forgotten now you are in a safe place,much to far away but we will meet again.


9:55 PM  

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