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Church executive recalls how 9/11 changed life for her family

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Wendy Whiteside

Christine Lee talks about losing her younger sister, Nancy Yuen Ngo, in the World Trade Center attacks.
Sept. 11, 2006

By Linda Bloom*

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Christine Lee was in her office at the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries when she learned of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Life for her family has never been the same.

Lee’s sister, Nancy Yuen Ngo, was last seen on the 95th floor of Tower 1, according to a 9/11 victims Web site. She was 36 years old, with a husband and two daughters, ages 2 and 6.

Although Lee believes the healing process has begun, the last five years have been very difficult ?? for her brother-in-law and nieces, her mother, her three other siblings and herself. Their father died the year before attack occurred.

Ngo, 12 years younger than Lee, held a degree in electrical engineering and had moved to Harrington Park, N.J., where Lee lived. But she had grown up in New York’s Chinatown and still was involved in the Chinese United Methodist Church there.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Eric J. Tilford, U.S. Navy

An aerial view shows the remains of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“ About two or three months before the terrorist attacks, she had accepted a new job at the World Trade Center,” Lee recalls. “My mother was caring for the kids while they both worked.”

Working as a network consultant for Marsh & McLennan, Ngo had to be at work in the World Trade Center before 8 a.m. Prior to the Sept. 11 attack, she had called her mother to tell her she was there. “That was the last ...” says Lee.

Of the 1,908 Marsh & McLennan employees who were working in or visiting the company’s offices in the twin towers that day, 295 were killed. One employee was a passenger on one of the hijacked planes. The company has a memorial to its lost employees adjacent to its offices at 1166 Avenue of the Americas.

After the destruction of the towers, the family went to hospitals in Manhattan, searching for Ngo. But, Lee admits, “By then, your hope is gone.”

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by John C. Goodwin

Nancy Yuen Ngo's name is inscribed on a wall honoring employees of Marsh & McLennan who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.

T he months following the attack were “horrible,” she recalls. Her oldest niece refused to attend her mother’s memorial service at Christ United Methodist Church in Manhattan. Her brother-in-law, Nick Ngo, was devastated and has never remarried. “He’d rather that he’d died instead of her,” Lee says.

His parents and her mother pitched in to help with the girls, and the family received counseling.

“My mother lost lots of weight,” Lee reports. “Later on, she just couldn’t stay in the house anymore. She wanted to go back to China.” Although her mother had moved to the United States 40 years earlier and had few relatives in China, she started making trips back there.

Time has helped with the healing. Lee’s nieces, now 11 and 7 years old, have become very attached to their father, who, in turn, is very protective of them. “It’s just hard for the kids,” Lee says. “There are pictures all over, but they can’t replace her.”

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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