'He absolutely loved New York'
By Joseph Kellard
His profession didn't lead him to New York, but his heart did. Tim Haviland moved to the Big Apple after meeting his wife, Amy, on the Internet. He loved New York, and when he had the opportunity to work in the Twin Towers he glowed, said Amy Haviland.
Tim died during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He was vice-president and project manager for insurance brokerage Marsh McLennan, a company that lost many employees in the attacks.
"He was on top of the world,” Amy said. “He'd go to the windows every day and watch the ferries and all the people below. He loved the hustle and bustle and the people. He loved talking to the people."
Haviland was born in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1960. He moved with his family to Ames, Iowa, at age 2, graduated from Ames High School in 1978 and relocated to Minneapolis-St. Paul, where he attended Macalester College.
After graduation, he landed a job with Lawson Computer Associates, a software firm in St. Paul, where he started in the mailroom, and while he was a manager in that department, he introduced many computer programs to make it operate more efficiently. After 12 years, he left the company and returned to school to learn computer programming.
Amy and Tim originally came to know each other through an Internet matchmaking web site in April 1996. They had much in common, except their locations. Living a thousand miles apart, they nevertheless decided to remain Internet friends and corresponded with each other often.
In August of that year, Tim decided to accompany a coworker who was flying to New York on a business trip, and he arranged to meet Amy at LaGuardia Airport. After spending some time with each other, Tim returned two weeks later to attend the christening of Amy's niece.
"I thought he was the most wonderful person I'd ever met," Amy recalled. "He was kind, generous, loving, honest."
In October, Tim set up a series of job interviews in New York and was hired by Avis to run their computer program department at twice the salary he was making in Minnesota. In January 1997, he moved to Oceanside with Amy and her two children, Nicholas, 14, and Jesse, 12. They were engaged in November 1998 and married in August 1999.
"He took over managing my children's lives and became their financial supporter and their homework man," Amy said. "He was very devoted to me and my children."
By September 11, Haviland had been working for Marsh McLennan for more than three years and he expected to be promoted to vice president in October. He started at the company's headquarters at 1166 Avenue of the Americas, and later his office was switched to the 96th floor of the North Tower at the World Trade Center.
"He absolutely loved New York and working in the city to begin with, but when he transferred to the Twin Towers he glowed," Amy said.
The day before the attacks, Amy had returned home from the hospital after undergoing abdominal surgery. The next morning, the couple performed their usual routine, which included driving Tim to the Oceanside Long Island Rail Road station each morning.
"I said to him before we left that morning, 'do you want to go vote now?' He said, 'I would but, you know how Jesse gets if she can't push all the levers for me. I'll come home early and we'll all go vote.'"
After dropping him off, Amy returned home and went back to bed to convalesce. The bedroom phone rang and woke her from her sleep. It was Amy's sister Christine.
"She tried to be very calm," Amy explained. "She said, 'Amy, I think you should put on the TV because they think a plane just flew into the World Trade Center.' I put on Channel 4 immediately and started screaming, because I could see it was his tower."
When Tim failed to call her, Amy knew he was in trouble.
"He would have called me if he could have, even if he were choking with smoke,” she said. “I called his voice mail and then his cell phone. And I kept calling his cell phone. He never answered."
Amy also characterized her husband as someone who always walked around with a smile.
"Our neighbors, who took the train with him in the morning, miss him so much because he always lightened up their morning."
Haviland was someone who was passionate about his interests, whether it was studying computer books to increase his knowledge in his profession, politics or the Minnesota Vikings, Amy said.
Tim once brought Amy to the Metrodome in Minnesota to watch the Vikings play the Green Bay Packers. "I knew nothing about football, but instead of shushing me because he wanted to watch the game, Tim explained the rules and every detail,” she recalled. “He was a very patient man."
Haviland was also a Knicks and Yankees fan, but Amy and her children were Met fans. "Last year's World Series when the Yankees played the Mets was a big deal in our house,” she said.
For Amy, what makes coping with her husband's loss most difficult is seeing her children's suffering. Amy said she feels "very depressed" and wants to "hide under the covers and not come out," but that she has to take care of her family.
"To sit at our dinning room table at night and try to have dinner without Tim, I haven't been able to eat,” she said. “My kids are destroyed. It's just an awful, awful feeling."
Amy and her family's saving grace have been their relatives, who were with her at every moment in the wake of the attacks and the search and rescue efforts.
"I don't think I would have survived this without them," Amy said.
A memorial service was held for Haviland last Sunday at Vanella's Funeral Chapel in Oceanside.
* This story originally appeared in the Oceanside/Island Park Herald in November 2001.