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Queens Chronicle

Two Families Face Life Without Their Children

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Posted: Thursday, September 7, 2006 12:00 am

The Pearlmans and the Maurers have a common bond. They both lost children in the 9/11 attacks and their suffering remains raw five years later.

Dorie Pearlman of Howard Beach lost her 18 year old son, Richard, who was working in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11 and sped to the scene to help in the rescue effort. Trained in CPR and first aid, Pearlman was a member of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

His remains were found six months later, next to those of Police Officer Moira Smith, 38, a Queens Village resident. Although proud of her son’s heroism, Dorie Pearlman is bitter over his death.

“It was a waste of his life for nothing,” she said. “Things have gotten worse and I hope he didn’t die in vain.”

Richie was on a temporary job delivering papers at One Police Plaza for a law firm when the terrorist attacks occurred. He called the law office and told them he was going to stay at the scene to help the wounded. “I know he would have done it because he was always helpful and was always thinking of others, not himself, but deep down he would have been scared,” his mother said. “Where do you find an 18 year old doing this stuff?”

Richie was supposed to start college that October at LaGuardia Community College. “It’s hard. I know he’s never coming home,” Dorie Pearlman said, adding that her husband, Barry, a quiet man, is angry over the loss of their son. They have an older daughter.

“Our country overlooked the warnings. They should have done something in 1993 (after the first World Trade Center attack). It’s a sad situation,” she added.

Jill Maurer Campbell, 31, of Middle Village, was only working part time at an office job at the World Trade Center so she could spend more time with her 10 month old son, Jake. Now her parents are helping to raise the boy, who just started first grade at P.S. 128.

Her parents, Joseph, a retired firefighter, and Jeanne, say they still have a lot of grieving to do. “It’s very hard. We take it one day at a time, but our grandson keeps us going,” Jeanne Maurer said.

Jill loved working as an administrative assistant for Thompson Financial and was married to a police officer. “She was a great mother who loved life and lived it to the fullest,” Maurer said. “Everyone loved her because she made them feel comfortable.”

A communications major, she graduated magna cum laude from Adelphi University. Maurer said that Jake has inherited his mother’s eyes, smile, temperament and intelligence.

Jill worked on the 78th floor and left a message at her parent’s house saying not to worry, that the plane had hit the other tower and she would see them that evening. “We were at Jill’s house getting the baby. Maybe if we had been there when she called, we would have told her to get out,” Maurer said, noting that Jill’s floor was the point of impact for the second plane.

After getting to their home, the Maurers listened to their daughter’s message, immediately turned on the television and saw the second tower fall. “We got Jill’s wallet back intact, but nothing was recovered of her. It’s hard to accept. We hope she didn’t suffer,” Mrs. Maurer added.

Jake is too young to understand what happened, but has been told his mother died when a plane hit her building. “We haven’t told him the evil behind it,” she said.

He recently was given the honor of cutting the ribbon on a new playground at Juniper Valley Park. His buddy, Councilman Dennis Gallagher, hears from Jake on a regular basis.

On Sept. 11, the family will go to Ground Zero and in the evening will attend a memorial program at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village. Jill’s sister will read a tribute written by her daughter.

Welcome to the discussion.