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down with the ship

It was Tuesday, September 11th...better than a Monday by any stretch of the imagination. Christine began the day with a beautiful smile and hug from her husband Neil. Their respective careers kept them on the go constantly...she as the CEO of Applevision/ Vidicom and he as the newly appointed Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The marriage had followed an intense courtship born from a date arranged by Senator Alfonse D'Amato and he had become "Super Dad" to her two girls Ali and Caitlin. Only five months before, Governor George Pataki had appointed Neil to the position of director over the thousands of employees and miles of roads, bridges,tunnels,ports and runways that comprise the business end of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey..working men and women who show up every day to do their jobs as public servants. As Neil headed for his office on the 68th floor of 1 World Trade Center, his thoughts were where they usually were during down time. He mulled over restitution for Holocaust victims and their families and how to ease that pain, somehow, fifty years after the fact of the atrocity that was Hitler's reign of terror and ethnic cleansing.

A native New Yorker, Neil was a 1976 graduate of Lafayette College who later received a Master's in business administration from Long Island University and a law degree from Hofstra University. He then went to work as counsel to the securities subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee, headed by Senator D'Amato. While there, he helped to draft the Insider Trading Sanctions Act of 1984, which came in reaction to the trading scandals that shook Wall Street in the early 1980's. He spent seven years as chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board of New York during their transition from regulator of financial institutions to a profit-seeking business. In 1985 he joined Goldman Sachs & Company and was promoted to vice president two years later, assisting federal agencies with investment banking and advising federal home loan programs like Fannie Mae. In 1994, Governor Pataki appointed Mr. Levin as the state's superintendent of banks with oversight of 4,500 financial institutions in New York State. In 1997, he was appointed as superintendent of the State Insurance Department and head of the Commission on the Recovery of Holocaust Victims' Assets. As of March 2001, his appointment as chairman of the Port Authority continued to challenge this highly intelligent and energetic man. And so, he was there at the Windows to the World restaurant atop the North Tower, for a breakfast meeting on September 11, 2001. When the plane hit, he was on the phone with his executive adviser, Karen Eastman. It was the last anyone heard from him.

There was a memorial service later that month at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side, attended by about 500, that included an extended standing ovation at the request of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and ended with a procession led by a color guard.
After his death, his widow Christy was appointed as a liason between Governor Bloomberg's office and survivors of victims of the World Trade Center bombings. In June of 2004 she became a member of the Board of Directors of the Port Authority, carrying on the work of her beloved husband.

The 65th school to be established at SUNY was named after Levin, called the Neil D. Levin Graduate Institute of International Relations and Commerce. The first "for credit" courses were offered in the spring of 2005 to students from SUNY Buffalo MBA and Law programs. The semester long, 12 credit course focuses on international finance and banking. Students graduated May 1st of that year.

A video tribute featuring his widow Christy, co-workers and friends may be viewed here. I'm glad I watched it...it gave me a much greater understanding of one man who perished that day helping others, in his usual manner.

Neil Levin In Memory of Neil David Levin September 16,1955 - September 11,2001

Author's note: A big thank you to D.C. Roe for the opportunity to participate in this event. Out of respect to Mr. Levin and the other victims, there will be no posting here until after 9/11.

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