We Remember You

Of the 2,977 people who died in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, three were UT-Austin alumni. A decade after their deaths, the UT family remembers them.

Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, BS ’86

Lauren Catuzzi caught Jack Grandcolas’ eye from across a crowded lecture hall in a government class. He soon struck up a conversation with the bubbly sorority girl and health sciences major.

Their first date was to a U2 concert at Austin’s Frank Erwin Center. Jack still has his ticket.

They married in 1991 and moved to San Francisco, where Lauren worked in marketing for Good Housekeeping magazine. On her 30th birthday, she talked Jack into skydiving. “She was always tackling one adventure or another,” he says. A former Girl Scout with a plucky, fearless spirit, Lauren was writing a book encouraging women to try new things.

Grandcolas was coming home to San Francisco when she boarded United Flight 93. She was originally booked on a later flight but switched so she could get home earlier. This is the voicemail message she left for her husband from the plane, in an utterly calm and collected voice:

“Honey, are you there? Jack, pick up sweetie. OK, well I just wanted to tell you I love you. We’re having a little problem on the plane. I’m totally fine, I just love you more than anything, just know that. And you know, I’m, you know, I’m comfortable and I’m OK for now. Just a little problem. So I just love you, please tell my family I love them too. Bye, honey.”

She was three months pregnant with their first child.

Jack and Lauren’s sisters finished the book she had begun. You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls was published in 2005. It urges women to master new hobbies, from surfing to knitting.

Through a foundation started in Lauren’s memory, friends and family also sponsored a birthing room at Marin General Hospital, where Jack and Lauren’s baby would have been born.

Sometimes Jack visits the birthing room. “It’s a joyful place,” he says. “I try to live as she would have wanted me to live. That’s what keeps me going.”


Richard Aronow, JD ’78

Gil Aronow was 15 years old in 1978 when he boarded a plane from New York City to Austin to visit his big brother Richard, a UT law student.

Richard picked him up at the airport in a giant, rusty old Buick he’d borrowed from a friend, and he and Gil set off on a road trip.

They ate barbecue in Manor and strolled the riverwalk in San Antonio. “We tooled around Austin, which was a weird and wonderful place, the anti-Texas Texas,” Gil remembers.

Richard and his law school friends studied hard, but found time for Bacchanalian revelry, too. At a student apartment, Gil watched one of his brother’s friends do John Belushi-style party tricks. “Beers had pull tabs back then, and this guy would pull the tabs off with his mouth and leave them in his mouth while he drank his beer,” he laughs.

Gil, now an attorney with Sony Music, recalls how happy his brother was during law school. “I think that trip influenced me to start thinking about law,” he says. “He was my big brother. He made a big impression on me.”

Richard was an attorney with the Port Authority of New York for more than 20 years, working on the 66th floor of the North Tower. His coworkers were like a second family, and he loved his job. But most of all, he was passionate about finding a cure for autism.

Richard’s son William, now 14, is profoundly autistic. His widow, Laura Weinberg, still raises money for autism research.

This Sunday, Gil will read his brother’s name at the dedication ceremony of the 9/11 memorial in New York City. “I live just across the bridge in Brooklyn,” he says, “but this will be my first time there.”


Peter Moutos, BBA ’83, Life Member

His coworkers called him Superman because he was always doing so much.

Peter Moutos, who worked as a consultant for Marsh & McLennan, was a busy man, and no amount of stress could deflate his perennially positive attitude.

“One coworker told me that if somebody had a problem and complained to Peter about it, he’d say ‘Let’s look at this as an opportunity for growth!’” remembers his widow, Meg Belding.

Peter’s high school wrestling teammates showed up at his memorial service to tell stories about how loudly and enthusiastically he cheered them on during matches.

Peter and Meg were barely married a year, but they already had the drill down.

Every day, they’d kiss and say “I love you” before Peter headed off to work in the Twin Towers, and Meg went to her job as a school nurse.

And every day at five o’clock sharp, Peter would call Meg from his office on the 100th floor. “Every time like clockwork, he always asked, ‘How’s my gorgeous woman?’” Meg remembers. She’d pick him up from the train station, and they’d head to the gym.

Peter always carried Meg’s gym bag and held the door open for her. “He was such a gentleman that way,” she says. “Those little things, you know. “

Then they’d head home and make dinner together. Nothing fancy; just a simple daily routine, Meg recalls.

They were planning to start a family soon, so Meg had put her plans to go back to nursing school on hold.

After Peter died, though, she entered a graduate program to become a certified nurse practitioner.  Meg, now remarried with two stepchildren, still finds solace in her job as a school nurse for special-needs kids.

“Some of the kids have a single parent, or a troubled background, and I love being able to help fill that void in their lives,” she says. “Getting to watch them grow, they’re like my own kids. I guess they help me, too.”

Flag photo by Marisa Vasquez. Other photos courtesy Gil Aronow, Jack Grandcolas, and Meg Belding.


1 Comment

Post a Comment