2996 (2001-2011) Michael B.Packer
World Trade Center
Michael Benjamin Packer
Remembering Michael B. Packer
Rekha Packer, wife of Michael B. Packer, submitted this note for publication in Harvard Magazine.
It is with deep sadness that I report the death of my husband, Michael B. Packer, also Class of 1976, a managing director in Merrill Lynch's corporate and institutional client group, who was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at an e-commerce conference on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower on September 11, 2001.
Michael, age 45, was a widely respected leader in the financial and technology communities; in 1999, Institutional Investor named him one of the country's top online finance leaders. After four years at Exeter, Michael earned his B.A., magna cum laude, in Applied Sciences and Engineering from Harvard, where he built and tuned several harpsichords for Harvard-Radcliffe and performed in keyboard concerts, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from MIT.
In spite of his many accomplishments, what is most memorable about Michael is his insatiable curiosity within and outside his many fields, his boyish enthusiasm, and his eagerness to share his knowledge with others. Michael was forever an optimist, always insightful into situations that perplexed others, confident that he could work to improve any situation, whether in strategic and management consulting, investment banking, the publishing industry, or the brokerage business. His quiet strength and cheerful optimism carried us through many difficulties during our devoted 22-year marriage, including my life-threatening illness in 1990.
Michael was a tireless and dedicated father to our two children, Sarita (age 11) and Jonathan (age 7), who would light up as soon as they heard him return from work each weekday. Whenever Daddy was around, there was sure to be something interesting ahead, whether it be travel within or outside the United States or the latest gravity-defying office toy. On weekends, Michael enjoyed golfing, woodworking, fuming over impossibly hard Liszt compositions on the piano, and involving the whole family in scientific experiments. He was so happy to see the children's growing interest in the charitable foundation we set up last year. We will miss the joy that surrounded Michael, and I, for one, will miss so much the warm company of my best friend.
Packer, 45, was scheduled to present the keynote address at the Waters 2001 Financial Technology Congress at Windows on the World in Tower One.
"He shouldn't have been in the building, except he was going to give the speech," recalled his wife, Rekha. Packer, a mechanical engineer, worked nearby for Merrill Lynch at the World Financial Center where he was managing director of an electronic-commerce group for the bond firm.
"He was an incredible man," his wife said. "Above all, he liked learning about new innovations and that included highly technical things." But as technically gifted as he was, she said that her husband also had a deeply innate talent for artistic pursuits.
"His life included many things in the humanities, art and drama. He was an excellent pianist. In college, he performed concerts," she said.
One of Packer's avocations was building kit replicas of 18th century harpsichords, which he thoroughly enjoyed playing -- especially classical music of the masters.
"He would perform works by Bach, Liszt and Chopin," said his wife. He also enjoyed listening to jazz. At one point, the family, who lived in Hartsdale in Westchester County, found themselves with six harpsichords. "We gave away five and had one left," she said.
Packer possessed an enviable academic background. After attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and went on to get a master's degree and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His wife, an attorney, also graduated from Harvard. They celebrated their 25th Harvard class reunion in June.
Married for 22 years, the couple had two children, Sarita, 11, and Jonathan, 8. "He was an extremely good father and very dedicated to his children," Rekha Packer said. She said his children's birthday parties were "phenomenal." There was the time their son was fascinated by bulldozers. So through a friend's help, one arrived at their home for the boy to explore. And the time their son became intrigued with airplanes, Packer arranged for one to fly into Westchester County Airport so the child could examine it.
In addition to his wife and children, Packer is also survived by his parents, Leo and Dorothy Packer of Cambridge, Mass.; a sister, Janet Packer of Groton, Mass., and a brother, Alex, of Somerville, Mass.
Bill Kaufman (Newsday)
The following letters are from Michael’s guest book:
I will always remember you as a man filled with so much enthusiasm for life. I'm thankful I had the privilege of working in your home for one year. Your dedication to Rekha, Sarita, and Jonathan was evident every day - when you spent your evenings and your weekends with them, they lit up with excess excitement. That will stay imprinted upon their lives forever. They thought the world of you and they will miss you the most.
For your optimism, joy, strength, laughter, intelligence, kindness, and devotion to your family: you will never be forgotten.
To Rekha, Sarita, and Jonathan: I wish you the best of all good things. May Michael's enthusiasm for life, live on in yours.
Janelle L. Anderson
(Former Nanny, 1999-2000)
On 9/11/01 I emailed you with an "are you OK" message. I never received a reply. Fearing the worst and hoping for the best I held my breath. Well, I was notified of the worst just two weeks ago and have since been contemplating my message and words below.
Although I worked with and for you in my role as a consultant, I always thought of you as a friend. You were always kind, good humored and considerate, enthusiastic and receptive. In my view, you were always a force for good, and an agent of positive change.
It goes without saying that you will be greatly missed by your family, friends, colleagues, company and country. We just lost a vital and capable human being who contributed much and gave everything to all those around him.
To your wife and family I extend my personal heartfelt condolences and those of my family and colleagues in the UK and USA. We can only imagine the intimate sense of loss they must feel, but it might help to know that we remember too, and our thoughts and prayers go with you all.
Michael, we are all going to miss you.Prof Peter Cochrane
Below is the link to Michael's Guest Book
Michael's Guest Book
Several months before the WTC attacks, Michael Packer offered to assist, pro-bono, the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center -- a non-profit, consortium of schools in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties -- in achieving our goal of being an organization synonymous with excellence. He was a world class business executive with a successful track record as a strategist, team builder and manager. When he first met Michael in August, we were impressed by his expertise and humor, as well as his genuine wish to help us. In one meeting, he established a bond of trust. We decided to get together again on September 14th, and we all had the highest hopes. We at the LHRIC were but a small part of Michael Packer's world but his kindness and sincerity were evident in each of our encounters.
~Peter Reilly, acquaintance
Musical and Mechanical
Michael B. Packer had a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which came in very handy at his children's science fairs and birthday parties.
"When you walked into the house, you usually walked into a scientific experiment," said Ronald Soiefer, a close friend who had met Mr. Packer when they were Harvard undergraduates. One contraption had a microphone hooked up to a laptop computer, which recorded human voices and showed them as sound waves on a colored screen.
Mr. Packer, 45, of Hartsdale, N.Y., had many other sides. He played the piano and, in his spare time, made harpsichords, a trade he had learned as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard. He made sure that his children — Sarita, 11, and Jonathan, 7 — were steeped in the classics. In June, he and his wife, Rekha, took the children on a tour of the Aegean Islands, following in the footsteps of Homer's Ulysses.
Mr. Packer, who was to be the keynote speaker at a technology conference at Windows on the World on Sept. 11, joined Merrill Lynch in 1999 as a leader of a major e-commerce initiative. "He was very good at managing things," said Mrs. Packer, who remembers most vividly how he coped with the family, the house, his job and her convalescence when she suffered a brain injury in 1990. "Nothing really got him down. We really miss him for that now."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 12, 2001.
Short video, Please take the time to view..
September 11th Tribute
I am honored to participate in 2996.
Sarita is 21 this year and Jonathan is 17. My thoughts and prayers are with Michael’s family. I hope they are all doing well. I am honored to post this tribute for Michael.
I think it is beautiful that the blogging community has taken on and supported this wonderful way to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost their friends and loved ones in this tragedy.
I just finished listening to your name being read at the memorial service. They have called it "Ground Zero" and have set up a beautiful place for people to visit all of those who were lost on that terrible day ten years ago. My thoughts are with you, your family, and all of those who had the wonderful opportunity to know and love you. God Bless all of those struggling with the loss of such a wonderful man. Huggles
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
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~ Robert F. Kennedy