Janet Alonso

Janet Alonso kissed her husband and her two children goodbye Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, and went to her part-time job as an email analyst for Marsh & McLennan on the ninety seventh floor of Tower One at the World Trade Center. Like so many others, she never came home.

Janet Bohlander Alonso graduated from Tappan Zee High school in 1978. A deeply spiritual woman with a beautiful smile and bright blue eyes, she radiated an inner beauty that enhanced her classic features and gentle ways.

Gifted with a lovely voice, she thrilled the congregation at Tomkins Memorial Church with her singing. The love of her life was her husband and her two children, Victoria, 3, and Robert Jr, 20 months, who was born with Down Syndrome.

'I met my wife in '83 at Lederle Laboratories where we worked together.' Robert relates.

'The minute I saw her, I wanted to take her out. She wasn't so sure about me at first. Janet's family was very religiously orientated. She was raised to view life in a positive way, always reaching out to help children, stray animals, homeless people, anyone who needed help. I admired Janet for those qualities. She taught me so much.'

Robert and Janet were married May 16, 1989, ten years before they had their first child, Victoria, on January 6, 1999. To their delight, Robbie was conceived less than a year after Victoria's birth and was born on April 9, 2000. Janet's family was her life. She took a leave of absence to stay home with her handicapped son and had just returned to work shortly before the day of the disaster.

'She worked hard for what we have,' Robert relates. 'Janet went back to school in her mid-thirties to get her degree and better herself on the job. When she graduated from Dominican College, she was pregnant with our first child. Going to college, keeping house, working full time, and becoming a mother was very difficult. I don't think I could have done it. But she did it. When Janet wanted to accomplish something, she planned it out and gave it all she had.'

Janet attended the weekend and evening classes at Dominican. Dr. Janet Pansini, a faculty member, remembers Janet as 'a good, hard working and very dedicated student who loved Dominican and valued her education. She had an unbelievable sense of humor.' Guy Adamo, adjunct professor, remembers her as ' a really wonderful person and an outstanding student who always contributed and participated in a positive way.' Another professor wrote, 'Janet lit up the classroom with her beauty, but it was her inner sparkle and warmth that drew you to her. She was in a class of her own.' Janet graduated Dominican in 1998.

Janet had problems conceiving a child. She wanted desperately to have children, so she started going to a fertility specialist while she was attending college. For a long time nothing happened. Rather than put a strain on her marriage, Janet decided that if God did not want her to have children, she would accept His decision. Soon after that, she became pregnant with Victoria.

The family was ecstatic when she became pregnant again. Janet had a cesarean birth. When her son was delivered, the doctor took Robert aside to tell him that the baby showed signs of Down Syndrome. Janet heard the news while she was still on the operating table. Understandably upset, she began to cry. Robert told her, 'Don't worry, honey. Everything will be all right. I was very worried about her, but the next day when I went to see Janet, she was on the phone investigating every aspect of Down Syndrome. She was determined to learn everything there was to know to help Robbie have every advantage growing up. That was the kind of person she was.'

Margaret Alonso, Robert's mother, remembers Janet through her tears as a person that was 'a great daughter-in-law and really on the ball. I baby-sat for her three days a week so she could go to her job in New York. Janet really appreciated it, but she was happy that Robbie would be going to nursery school full time in January so I could have some free time. I didn't work out that way.' A very close family, Margaret,70, has been with Robert every day since September 11 and plans to continue to help as long as 'this little family needs me.' Her sister, Alice Vasquez, helps out too.

'Margaret gets up a five A.M. to cook nutritious meals for Robert and the children every day,' Alice said. ' My sister and I knew how much Janet wanted children. We prayed everyday at the Don Bosco Shrine for a miracle. Now these children have no mother. We have done everything in our power to fill the void, but for a long time we could see the pain in Victoria's eyes when her mother did not come home at night. For days, little Robbie's sad eyes searched every face looking for her. It was heartbreaking.'

Robert was overwhelmed at the outpouring of love for Janet after the disaster. He received calls and faxes from her colleagues around the world. At Christmas, delivery trucks pulled in all day with flowers, toys for the children, and baskets of food. 'It was unbelievable.' A tree was sent in Janet's memory. Robert planted it outside the kitchen window and hung lights on it for Christmas. Victoria calls it Mommy's tree. Every night she says, 'Daddy, light Mommy's tree.' Robert plans to turn the lights on the tree every evening throughout the year to keep his children close to the memory of their mother.

The children in Garnerville have been especially caring. They have held lemonade and cupcake sales and brought the money to Robert for Janet's children. The students in North Garnerville Elementary School raised two thousand, six hundred dollars for the children in a Read-a-Thon and presented the money and a plaque entitled, 'The Many Hearts Together Certificate' to the Alonsos. Inscribed on the plaque is 'To remind you that you will always be part of our North Garnerville community and in our hearts forever. In honor of your loving wife and mother, Janet Alonso.' Robert is especially surprised and touched by these gifts from the children.

Ellen Barbera, a Garnerville resident and lifetime friend of Robert Alonso, is not surprised by the outpouring of love from the community. 'Janet and Robert were always involved with community projects, especially those involving the children. Robert has been sending pizza's from the pizza parlor his family runs to the school children as a reward for Read-A-Thons and sporting events for years. The children are encouraged to feel safe in Patricia's Pizza Parlor and to feel free to go there if they need to use the phone or are in trouble.'

Robert is now a full-time caregiver for the children with the help of his family and Janet's sister, Cheryl Russo. The family is taking one day at a time and moving forward with their lives. Robert feels blessed with his children, but says, 'My heart aches for my children and the other children of 9/11. They got a raw deal. I plan to do everything in my power to raise our children and educate them the way Janet would have wanted them to be raised. More than anything, Janet wanted her children to get a good education, and I am going to see to that.'

Janet and Robert Alonso's story is one of the thousands of stories of the victims of 9/11 who have lost their lives and whose families are struggling to rebuild a future. Out of the devastation comes the realization that the true heroes of this world are not the glitzy celebrities that grace the glossy pages of our magazines, but the unsung heroes and heroines who work everyday to build a better life for their families and our society. They must not be forgotten. Their lives should serve as role models for our future generations.

We will never know what Janet Alonso's last thoughts were on that fateful day. Given her deep abiding faith and her love for her family, her last words may have been what every mother prays for, 'Dear Lord, please take care of my children.'

by Natalie Pieterse from Clever Magazine. Reprinted with the permission of Clever Magazine.

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Thinking of you today Janet. Hoping you are somewhere happy.
Eileen McGuire, Colleague
Sep 11 2014 9:51AM
Thinking about you today, Janet. We will never forget.
Steve, Friend
Sep 11 2013 9:34AM
Janet was my friend in High School. She was always so sweet and she must have been a wonderful mother and wife. I'm so sorry she left this world and her family the way she did. Anyone who knew her will forever miss her. God Bless Janet and her family.
Joan Helle-Fasolo, Friend
Sep 12 2011 12:45AM
I remember how much Janet loved her children. They were her blessing after a long wait. Janet was special.
Michel, Colleague
Sep 11 2011 11:59PM
Saw your daughter on the Today show a couple days ago and I'm sure you're SO PROUD of the woman she is becoming, so smart and beautiful. I pray that our heavenly father brings your family peace in these hard upcoming days of remembrance.
Jill Stacy, Friend
Sep 9 2011 11:05AM
Remembering you today,
Lily Emanuello, Friend
May 2 2011 1:32PM
Today in Mass, we were asked to approach the alter to pick a wristband with the name of a 9/11 victim on it, I chose Janet's. The Priest suggested we wear the wristband, pray for Janet and her family. I am so happy to have found this tribute and read about her. Although I live out in Lake Tahoe, my life changed on 9/11/01, my sorrow is heart-felt for what happened that day and will never take my freedom and safety for granted ever again. Janet, you were clearly loved by many and will be remembered forever! God Bless America!
colleen, Colleague
Sep 12 2010 11:44PM
RIP Janet.
Jeff Worth, Colleague
Sep 11 2010 8:49AM
Janet Alonso Thank you for your spiritual wisdom
Luciana, Colleague
Nov 4 2009 9:01PM
Thought about you today and while watching YouTube Documentary. I choose to remember the Bear Mountain Inn and disco. We were all so young then. By the grace of God, I was not at work that morning. Hope you all are safe and healthy.
Adrian Correa, Friend
Sep 11 2009 8:43PM
Hi Janet, 8 years have passed since that tragic day and we still miss you and think of you! Steve
Steve, Friend
Sep 11 2009 12:03PM
I was in the ACCEL program at Dominican College with Janet. I have to admit, that after a long day of work hours of evening classes were tiring and the names and faces of the majority of my classmates are a blur. Janet, however, stood out. We would grab a snack at break and chat. She was my kind of person; genuine, honest, kind...you could just tell. She shined with a light and warnth from within. Our contact was brief and yet, I'll never forget her. I am reminded so often but, especially today, to live a good life for those whose lives were cut short. Janet and her family will forever be in my thoughts and prayers.
Sharyn Youngman-McTigue, Friend
Sep 11 2009 9:35AM
I know you are with God!
Luciana, Colleague
Jun 7 2009 10:57AM
Conheci Janet Alonso por internet, porque tenho um blog chamado 'Janete & Alonso', e então coincidentemente me deparei com essa linda história, desta linda mulher, quem entrou no meu coração como um ser de muita luz!
Luciana, Colleague
Apr 11 2009 9:25AM
Janet, Still missing you 7 years later. It was an honor and a pleasure to have known you and worked with you, and I will always treasure those memories. Steve
Steve Ovadia, Colleague
Sep 11 2008 9:47AM
Hi Janet, It has been 5 years since that awful day, but always know that you will never be forgotten. Steve
Steve Ovadia, Colleague
Sep 11 2006 12:48PM
Janet, Saw your name today and went to your tribute page. Its still hard to believe that you're gone. I saw your face and I immediately recalled the days you sat behind me at the Trade Center. I can still hear you calling home to check on your family. I know you weren't alone for your last hour. For that Im grateful. I hope that you are resting in peace and that your spirit watches over your children. Love, Michael
Michael Cantatore, Colleague
Jul 23 2004 10:23AM
It has taken me 2 years to reach this point, and it is still not easy. It seems like yesterday when we were talking, laughing, and making fun of people. Janet, I miss you. You always knew exactly what to say to make people laugh. I remember the huge smile that lived on your face when you found out your were pregnant, the first time. I remember that smile again when you finished school. And yet again that smile remained when you realized you were once again pregnant. Despite the obstacles that were put in your path, you always stayed positive. I remember the comforting words you always had for people going through uncertain times. You were there when I first came to Marsh, and thought you would be there until you decided to stay home with the kids. You were a friend, someone who listened, someone who cared. I miss the Cinnamon Swirl cakes you would make for me, and then force me share it with the team. The time you took to bake a cake for me always made me feel really special, and I thank you for that. I've tried to duplicate your cake, but unfortunately, it appears to be something only you could pull off. I know that your children are being taken cared of by Robert and the rest of your family, and that gives me some comfort. I know how much you loved your husband and children. This was apparent everytime you spoke about them, which was everyday. I really miss the stories and the pictures of your family. I still have images of the pictures your shared of your last summer vacation at the beach with the kids, and hope that they are enjoying the past, and future summers the same. We were a group of co-workers and friends that worked well together, and loved and cared about each other. We knew each others children, and shared in the happiness and sadness that presented itself in each of our lives. That bond will never be broken. You are constantly thought and spoken of. You are truly missed Miss Janet. Hope to see that smile again one day.
Ordia Bryan, Colleague
Sep 22 2003 10:00PM
Dear Janet Alonso and family, I talked to Robert tonight. He was referred to me by a Marsh person. My husband John was killed at Marsh as well, on the 100th floor of Tower 1. Your husband is a good person, Janet, optimistic and fun and doing as well as he can by your children. He cheered me up, somewhat. I'm sure you were lucky to have each other, as John and I were. May God be with you, and all of us.
Betsy, Friend
Jul 10 2003 1:39AM
Janet was a special friend of mine for so many reasons. We worked together on many projects and became Marsh's Office Automation Team, collectively knowing more about Lotus SmartSuite than Lotus themselves. I will never forget her smile and sense of humor. She taught me that it is possible to get ahead by helping others rather than pushing people down; a lesson that I do my best to perpetuate.
Steve, Friend
Apr 21 2003 5:45PM
My heart goes out to the family of Janet Alonso. May God bless her husband and children. May she watch over her family from heaven and lead them joyfully, safely and spiritually torward lives that they never would have had without her. Even though she is gone, she lives on......
K.D. Chaplin, Friend
Sep 30 2002 8:19PM
Although I do not know Mrs. Alonso, my thoughts are with her. It's so sad that God had to take away such a sweet Angel, but I'm sure she is needed in Heaven.
Kelly Sweet, Friend
Sep 12 2002 4:19PM