If God summoned all the little boys on Earth and asked them to form a line to give her one as a gift, Kathy Ashton would have picked her Tommy.
“I’d choose my son”, she said recently in between tears. “He was the best kid. He was so handsome. He was my dear boy.”
On September 11, Thomas Ashton, 21, of Woodside, N.Y., had been working on the 95th floor of the north tower on an electrical contracting job for Marsh and McLennan. But his family believes he was probably on his way to the basement area when terrorists struck, and was killed when one of the towers collapsed. Authorities told the family that Tommy’s body had been recovered between September 11 and 13. But police officers did not notify his family until the day before a memorial service had been set for him on October 4.
Tommy Ashton had lived a good life.
Thomas graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, where a scholarship has been established in his memory. Thomas had been a competitive swimmer and captain of his high school swim team. He also swam for the Flyers, a Flushing YMCA team. At age 13, Tommy was part of a NY State record-setting relay that still stands today.
Having completed 3 years of studies towards a political science degree at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, Tommy planned to finish college at night while working during the day. He joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Union Local 3 in July 2001.
At home, Thomas lived with his parents, Kathy and John, sisters Colleen, 25, and Mary, 19. A brother, John, died as an infant before Thomas was born. His mother said her middle child was deeply in love with his girlfriend, Jackie, and the two planned to marry.
Kathy Ashton said her son doted on Jackie’s little nephew, Anthony. “Tommy adored that little boy. They used to take him to Mets games, to a summer trailer in New Jersey we have there. Tommy called Anthony ‘The Kid’ ”.
At work, Local 3 had found an assignment for him with Denino Electric Construction Co. of Woodside. After finishing an assignment in midtown, Thomas Ashton began a new job at the World Trade Center for Marsh and McLennan on September 10.
On September 11, about ten minutes before the first plane hit, Tommy was apparently summoned to the basement area of the north tower to pick up electrical supplies. The family hoped and prayed he had survived the initial impact of the aircraft and the towers’ collapse.
Since the attacks, Tommy’s family and friends are keeping his memory alive. The Ashtons themselves like to return to images of a good son, a protective brother to his two sisters and a great friend to his father. The sadness abates only a little when family members think back to the little boy who grew up to be a bright and gentle man.
Even though he was only 21, Tommy had tried so hard to begin an independent life. He was a smart kid with a good head on his shoulders…He seemed to be at a peaceful place in his life. That’s probably the only consolation there is.