'Finding Fifteen' recounts lives, passions of 9/11 victims

Kristin Thorne Image
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
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Kristin Thorne reports on a book that is bringing comfort to those who lost loved ones on 9/11

POINT LOOKOUT, Nassau County (WABC) -- (This story was first printed in 2016)

As the nation mourns on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the family members of some victims are gaining added solace thanks to a new book that honors the lives of their loved ones.

"I don't think I've truly come to terms with it or fully grieved the loss of my brother," Mary Kay Kemper said.

Michael Duffy was everything to his sister -- a brother, a mentor, a friend -- and his sudden death on 9/11 left a huge hole in her heart. But a few months ago came an opportunity to share his memory. It was a letter from local author Timothy Oliver.

"Tim's letter, I could not ignore that," mom Barbara Duffy said. "OK, Michael, you want us to talk about you, and we will do it."

Duffy is one of 15 victims featured in Oliver's book "Finding Fifteen." The author got the idea while walking to work by the reflecting pools. He said names started to jump out at him.

"I would see a name and say, OK that's the person I'm going to find out about today," he said. "For me, it became an issue of honoring people...the names just show the end of their life, that they had passed away. But it doesn't say anything about the way they lived."

Related: 9/11 attacks by the numbers

And Michael's loved ones feel it was more than a coincidence.

"I do believe Michael chose Tim Oliver," Kemper said. "And I do believe he chose Tim to help us to really grieve his loss."

Oliver interviewed family members to create a detailed portrait of each victim -- their childhood, their relationships, their passions.

"All 15 people were in a very happy part of their lives when this happened to them," Oliver said.

Related: DNA technology bringing new hope to families of September 11th victims

For Duffy, he was excited about a new girlfriend and was excelling at work. His family is honored that others will be about to read and know about his life.

"It's a chance for the new generation to get to know the beautiful soul that my brother was," Kemper said.

If you would like to know more about the book Finding Fifteen visit FindingFifteen.com.

CLICK HERE for more Eyewitness News reflections, photos and stories marking the anniversary of 9/11


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