William A. Karnes

Family Tribute:Tribute to William A. (Tony) Karnes

To our brother and best friend, Tony perished on the 97th floor of WTC Tower 1. Tony loved New York, the gardens, the cultural opportunities, entertainment and restaurants.

Tony’s work with Marsh took him all over the U.S. where he met and made many friends and got to visit many places of his dreams. Many of these friends came to his memorial on October 25th in Knoxville, Tennessee.

After the tragedy of 9-11-01, Tony’s sisters went to New York in hopes of finding him but his young life was taken by this cowardly act of terrorism.

Tony’s gift to New York is the $12,000 given in his memory for the Freedom Engine fire truck purchased by East Tennessee people. The Freedom Engine is to be presented to Ladder Company 14 in Harlem in March. The Engine displays a bronze plaque that reads: 'From the people of East Tennessee to the people of New York City, we will not forget September 11, 2001.'

Tony, your sisters are still hurting. We are only saying goodnight but not goodbye.

Sadly missed and will always be in our hearts.

Your sisters, Brenda Vandever, Vicky Ratcliff and Gayle BarkerWilliam Anthony Karnes: Discovering New York

William Anthony Karnes made his living as a software trainer for Marsh & McLennan. But his life’s passion was touting the virtues of his adopted hometown, New York, regaling his sisters with stories about the wonders of living in the city where anything is possible, a place grander than anything he imagined growing up back in tiny Corryton, Tenn.

At least twice a week, Mr. Karnes, 37, would phone home to Tennessee, as much to say 'I love you' as to brag about his latest favorite restaurant, usually some Indian place. 'He loved that there was so much to discover in New York,' said John Winter, his domestic partner.

And he made sure to share his favorite discoveries. 'It was a big kick for him to show us around his city,' said his sister, Gayle Barker. 'He’d take us to the Empire State Building, the top of the World Trade Center, Rockefeller Center or just walking through the streets.'

The one thing Mr. Karnes couldn’t find in his beloved Manhattan was true Southern cooking. His love of a good plate of pinto beans, corn bread, mashed potatoes and biscuits always managed to guide him back home to one of his sisters’ dinner tables. In her mind, Mrs. Barker still imagines her brother sitting around the table. 'I just keep thinking that this isn’t really happening, that he’s not dead. He’s just on a long, long trip somewhere.'

Copyright (c) 2001 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.

Add Your Own Tribute

All tributes will be reviewed by our site moderators prior to being posted. Tributes will normally be posted on the site within 24 hours of submission.
loading
Tony, another year has gone by without you in our lives. Brenda and I went to the Knoxville memorial ceremony yesterday to remember you and all the other victims. We miss your laugh. Rest in peace, my brother.
Gayle Barker, Family
Sep 12 2014 5:25PM
Tony's sister, Gayle has been my best friend for more than 40 years. I first met Tony when he was about 8 - 9 years old. He was an adorable, cotton-topped blond little guy bursting with energy and I loved him immediately. Over the years I watched Tony mature into a wonderful young man and loved every minute we visited. Each year on September 11, I reflect on Tony and all that I knew about him and the memories of conversations and visits over the years. Gayle and I are still best friends and many times when we talk, we include Tony in our conversations. Tony, you are loved, missed and you are now a part of American History. Rest in Peace my friend.
Sheila Carter, Friend
Sep 11 2014 5:47PM
To Tony's family: I worked with Tony and spoke to him on the phone often and was able to meet him in person when he came to Las Vegas to train a few of us in our office on a new program he was helping create. He was warm, funny and I liked him immediately. I spoke to him just a few days prior to 9/11 and his last words were 'call anytime you need help!' We laughed and said goodbye. Hugs and love to his family. Lisa
Lisa Dixon, Colleague
Sep 12 2013 10:21AM
Tony, we have missed you so much over these past 10 years. Your smile, your laugh, your practical jokes - I remember them fondly. Brenda & I go to all the Knoxville 9/11 services and hope to go back up to New York next year to see the new memorial. I hope you are looking down on me, Brenda & Vicky with a smile in your heart. Love, Gayle
Gayle Barker, Family
Sep 13 2011 9:29AM
Tony is never far from my thoughts not, just on 9-11. We were friends before we started school and remained friends. If there were ever someone through the years i knew i could count on being there if i needed them it def. was Tony Karnes. Unfortunately, like many we lost contact through the years. But, I had the opportunity to see him shortly before 9-11. My last memory of him was when i was visiting his mother in the hospital and some tall, slim good looking guy comes walking in with a smile that lite up the whole room. He took one look at me, ran over grinning ear to ear, picking me up the floor with a huge bear hug and says to me...' you don't even remember me?'. I then recognized him and just couldn't believe it was Tony. Our visit was short but, i thank God he allowed me that moment. Tony was like a brother to me. I guess you could say i knew him all my life before 1st grade through out HS. When we were little he would play whatever i wanted which was always 'house' or 'dolls'..just anything that made me happy. Last high school memory was right before graduation a few of us took off one day for a nice lunch before we went our separate ways. ..funny thing is the only one i remember from that day was Tony. God Bless the family! You will always be in my prayers! Cindy
Cindy Hill- Treadway, Friend
Sep 11 2011 8:36PM
Today (9/11/2011) I recieved a card at my church, Christ United Methodist in College Station, Texas with William's name on it so that I would have someone special to pray for. My prayers are for peace and serinity for William's family and friends today and for years to come till we all gather in heaven united with love. God Bless y'all. Bill Osborn II
Bill Osborn II, Family
Sep 11 2011 4:27PM
Thinking of Tony today as I have so many other days. What a wonderful, kind person. We laughed through many classes together in high school. Everyone who was fortunate enough to know him will remember that wonderful smile forever.
Anita Martin Shea, Friend
Sep 11 2011 1:38PM
Tony was a great friend and colleague. We met in Memphis in 1998 and he was one of my favorite people. I miss him so much.
Kelly Maxwell-Dice, Colleague
Sep 11 2011 11:43AM
I am remembering Tony today. We became friends in the seventh grade and had almost every class together for the next six years. Tony was so smart and witty. We loved school and worked hard for our grades. Others groaned under the hard expectations of our high school English teacher, but Tony and I appreciated her high standards and formed a club called the 'I Love Betty Club.' We loved to laugh together and talk about our plans to travel the world. Many times in high school I felt like I didn't belong, and Tony always understood. At our fifth year class reunion, he made me feel so good when he spent most of the evening with me, talking about his dreams to go to New York and telling me he was jealous that I'd been to Europe twice already. I was so glad to hear that he had achieved many of his dreams and lived a big life.
Mitzi Hipsher Lundy, Friend
Sep 11 2011 10:39AM
Thinking of you today. Remembering our conversations about having the assurance that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and even though you aren't here now, I can rejoice knowing you are in heaven with Him now. See you in the future my friend!
vala wood, Friend
Sep 10 2011 4:06PM
Tony, I think of you often. On that fateful day back in 2001, Suzy and I both reached for the phone to call you and ask if you knew why our computers suddenly went down. There was no answer. Then we heard the news and we tried again and again to call you, but the phone lines were down. We told each other that you were surely OK; you were probably busy helping others and you would call to let your family and former colleagues know that you were OK just as soon as you could get to a phone. We all wish that had been true. In the next few years I still sometimes reached for the phone to call you with one of those dumb questions you were always kind enough to answer for an old colleague. Then I would sadly realize that there would still be no answer. I was finally able to visit your second home, far from East TN, a few years after you were gone. I remembered the little stories you shared with your former colleagues back in Knoxville, about the big city and your adventures there. I felt your spirit with me as I walked those streets. Thank you, Tony. Thank you for sharing your joyful, kind, sweet, full of life spirit with us before you were taken from us too soon. Your giving and generous heart and soul will live on forever in the minds and hearts of those who knew you.
Carol Yauch, Colleague
Aug 30 2011 11:38AM
Thinking of you today - you can truly rest in peace now.
Doreen Harris, Colleague
May 2 2011 12:59AM
Tony, we still miss you so much. Brenda and I attended a 9/11 memorial service today. Tim Burchett, who is now our mayor, talked about working with you and seeing your car with the license plate, 'CMEFLY'. I had forgotten about that! It brought back so many fond memories of you. Wish you were still here with us.
Gayle Barker, Family
Sep 11 2010 3:10PM
Today marks the 9th anniversary since your life was taken. We miss you just as much now as in years past. We attended the annual ceremony in downtown Knoxville and placed flowers in your memory. Our new mayor Tim Burchett was guest speaker and as you know used to work with you. He mentioned your car with the license plate CMEFLY and remarked that you always tore into the parking lot every morning. He also had nice things to say about you and he misses you too. Tony, we love you and you will never be forgotten. Your sister, Brenda
Brenda Vandever, Family
Sep 11 2010 2:54PM
(I did not know Tony) However, I was in Highland Memorial Cemetery today and ran across the memorial stone for your beloved brother. My heart just sank when I read it. I came home and searched the computer to see who this person is and ran across this beautiful tribute to him. (wow, what a tribute everyone has left this young man.) I think it is great that he has sisters so understanding about his life and included all aspects of it into their lives as well. 9/11 will always be etched into every ones minds and I think 100 years from now it will still be the same.. I am so sorry you all had to lose such a wonderful person...Many prayers to you all! Tim
Tim, Friend
Sep 1 2010 1:48PM
Tony, I still miss you so much and think about you often. Jan 9/11/2009
Jan Smith, Colleague
Sep 11 2009 7:53PM
I didn't know Tony, but in a company as big as MMC, you can't know everyone. However, the tragic death of so many of our colleagues will never be forgotten. The memory of that day is just as vivid today as it was eight years ago when we watched this tragedy play out. If only it were a dream, a fictional book, or a Hollywood movie. Tony would be proud that this year, Marsh launched the first LGBT group. We are very excited about this. I hope that Tony's sisters and his partner John have found a semblance of peace. We will never forget!
Charles Vance, Colleague
Sep 11 2009 2:40PM
I miss your smile! It's hard to believe 7 years has passed. You still hold a special place in my heart.
Kelly Maxwell-Dice, Colleague
Sep 11 2008 12:34PM
Tony worked in the small bond department with me at Sedgwick James Inc. in Knoxville, TN. He was a great person and there were lots of fun times with co-workers after work. Tony was very dedicated to his job and a great as a co-worker. Here we are six years later and I still think of him. May God Bless your family. All that knew you miss you.
John Sissom, Colleague
Sep 11 2007 3:18PM
I had the priviledge of working with Tony at Sedgwick/Marsh in the Knoxville office for several years. Tony was always so helpful and just one of those people who would just make you laugh or smile. When I was pregnant, my office gave me a shower and Tony gave me the cutest peach dress for my baby. She actually wore it on her first Easter. We also had her picture made in it. Days following 9-11, I was in shock as everyone else in the Country, and watching the continuing news coverage of 9-11 and happened to notice that the picture of my daughter in the dress that Tony had given me was sitting on top on our entertainment center. I have kept the dress and I will always have the picture. I will never forget Tony and my heart and prayers continue to be with his loved ones who I know miss him terribly. Kim Lay
Kim Lay, Colleague
Sep 13 2005 8:21AM
Just a comment to moderator, not for posting since I have never meet him. I send my prayers to the family. I remember listening to the horror on Sept 11. My fight left Sunday Sept 9 from Boston. I was thinking God I was on the ground on that day. Having three older sisters who missed the pain of losing their only brother. No one but God knows why their family was touched that day and not mine. That day, family was on my mind as it touched everyone. Gary
GARY KARNES, Friend
May 9 2005 12:11AM
Dear Tony, Although days flow into months, and months flow into years, and the pain of loosing you softens over time, the memories of have of you and the love I still feel for you will never fade nor weaken. You will always be remembered and dearly loved ... always. Love and miss you so much - still, Your NBH John
John Winter, Friend
Sep 10 2003 12:17PM
I think often of the horror of 9/11/01. As the HR Manager in the Information Technology Department I interviewed Tony when he was applying for the position in the Memphis. He was relocating from Knoxville and was so happy to be starting another phase of his career. His smile was contagious and his friendship true. My heart will always ache for what he and all of our friends, colleagues, family members and loved ones (living, injured and deceased) experienced in the name of terrorism. Marilyn Winn
Marilyn Winn, Colleague
Jul 7 2003 11:43PM
I just wish I had more time with you. My heart is with you and always will be. Love your nephew, Greg
Greg Barker, Family
Jun 7 2003 12:25AM
Tony, we again approach the holiday season without you. Brenda, Vicky & I miss you so much, especially now. But it helps to focus on all our good times - when you would act crazy for our cameras, we would tell jokes and just generally enjoy ourselves. I treasure my visit to you & John in NY in 2000 but regret I never made it there in the summer of 2001 (as I had planned). Thank God I saw you on your last visit here in July. I know you are in a better place now with the rest of our family who have already passed on. I look forward to seeing you there. Much love to you, Your sister Gayle
Gayle Barker, Family
Dec 19 2002 8:08AM
tony, it has been over one year since you left us. my heart is broken as you were like my own child. you are in mind at all times and my love for you is like none other. i know that you are in heaven with daddy,mother, and bobby. you and other family members are rejoicing where there are no more heartache, pain or tears. i will be going to new york often as you were left there and i feel close to you. til we meet again. love forever, your sister brenda
brenda vandever, Family
Dec 13 2002 4:15PM
Tony, a whole year has passed of living my life without you - it doesn't seem possible. I still think of the fun and and the life we had together and feel blessed to have had you in my life if only for 3 years. You are indelibly etched into my heart and my mind. I will always love and cherish the memory of you.
John Winter, Family
Sep 19 2002 9:43PM
I knew Tony since he was 8 years old when his sister, Vicky, would bring him to the Aetna C&S; office where Vicky & I worked. Tony's other sisters, Gayle & Brenda worked at Aetna and Tony later did. Tony and I were colleagues at Fred S James, Segwick & Marsh and also neighbors for awhile in Knoxville. Tony was a good guy and he will always be remembered. Andy Middleton
ANDY MIDDLETON, Friend
Sep 17 2002 1:21PM
Although I did not know Tony well, he made me laugh and feel as though we were old friends. He came to our office a few times as an instructor and I had emailed back and forth with him with questions. He was a positive person who made everyone he worked with feel comfortable and provided laughter too. Our office misses Tony and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.
Lisa Dixon, Colleague
Sep 11 2002 12:35PM
Remembering Tony on this anniversary. All my thoughts and prayers for his family and loved ones.
Eleanor Hoehn, Friend
Sep 11 2002 10:36AM
I had the pleasure of working and travelling with Tony when we were both trainers for Marsh, Inc. It was truly a joy to have met Tony in Memphis and to have worked by his side as a colleague. My prayers and thoughts are with the family.
Kathryn Biddle, Colleague
Sep 10 2002 10:22PM
I had the pleasure and honor to work with Tony in the Knoxville office for approximately 4 years. Tony was one of the nicest, most caring individuals I have ever known. He would do 'anything' for anyone and expected nothing in return. He was a joy to be around. It saddens me to know he is gone but am very greatful that he touched my life.
Carlos Reveiz, Colleague
May 23 2002 1:32PM
Tony came to a holiday party I had at my apartment in January 2001. It's really hard to look at the pictures from that night knowing that he's gone. My deepest sympathies to his family.
Paul Zorovich, Colleague
Apr 18 2002 8:47AM
I didn't know Tony very well when I started out with Marsh. It was when he came back to Memphis last summer to teach the Oracle classes that I got to know him. He was a wonderful instructor & a great person to know. I wish I could have known him longer. I think of him often. His family are in my thoughts & prayers.
Lisa Mullikin, Colleague
Apr 4 2002 5:18PM
I've had the pleasure of knowing Tony, since we worked together in Memphis, in 1998. He had genuine kindness, and incredible wit. He was such a wonderful person to work with, and a great friend. I learned a lot from Tony. I'll never forget him. My heart goes out to all of his loved ones.
Kelly Maxwell-Dice, Colleague
Apr 4 2002 12:39PM
I first met Tony in May 2000 when he visited our office in Baltimore for Basys training. We had alot to talk about as I have many family members who reside in Tennessee. I was glad to hear that he would later return to our office that same year for WinCert training. Occasionally I would call Tony in NY if I had problems or questions regarding these applications. He was always so helpful. If he didn't have the answer, he knew who did. I remember first hearing the news on Sept. 11th. I immediately thought of Tony. I knew he traveled alot so I prayed that he was not in the NY office that day. Tony was one of the kindest people I'd ever met. I think of him often as well as his family. He touched my life, and I will never forget him.
Tanya Finch, Colleague
Apr 4 2002 8:42AM
Tony came to Greenville several years ago to do some training and not only was he excellent at training, but he also made it interesting and fun, which isn't an easy task with what he did for a living. I immediately liked Tony and am very sad that he is gone. He was a great guy and my heart goes out to his family and close friends for your loss.
Janie Davis, Colleague
Apr 4 2002 7:43AM