Sep 8, 2009

9/11 Tribute to David D. Alger

How does one perform an adequate tribute to the life of a man?  How does one reach out, and through meager words, attempt to describe the life of one who has touched many?  Though an entire library of books may be written, they would not do justice concerning that individual. As a writer, I have come to the stark conclusion that words become insufferably inadequate when they attempt to speak of David D. Alger. However, this is a task that I have humbly undertaken.

David Alger was born on December 15, 1943.  He entered into the world during a time of crisis.  It seems almost prophetic that he would leave the world at the beginning of another.  Born in California, he grew up in Gross Pointe, Michigan. He attended Harvard University where he majored and then graduated with a diploma in history.  He then went on to the University of Michigan where he not only received his M.B.A, but would eventually earn the Alumni Achievement Award which “recognizes alumni of the Business School whose attainments in their professional fields have brought distinction to themselves, credit to the School and benefit to their fellow citizens.”

In 1968, he started his career as a securities analyst.  With talent promoted by hard work and strong ethics, he quickly ascended the corporate ladder.  By September of 2001, he was the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Fred Alger Management.

David made numerous appearances on financial shows.  A common place to find him was on CNBC’s Squawkbox.  Not content to follow the common practices of others, he developed a successful, yet unorthodox program that involved computer modeling.

Although his professional life was indeed impressive, it was through his personal character that he truly shined.  While researching the life of this great man, I came across numerous testimonies written by those who knew him.  What they wrote of was not his business achievements, though they were many, but of his character.  Some of those tributes can be found at the David D. Alger Guest Book hosted by 

Katie Quinn Harvey described an instance where a client became irate and proceeded to curse over the phone.  She went on to write:

He (David) let me put the call through and told the man that he could have his money back from the fund and if he ever spoke to his staff again in an disrespectful manner that he'd "head butt him"...he then called me at my desk and asked if I was okay. He praised me for my patience with this man and apologized that I had to deal with him at all and assured me it had been taken care of….This big powerful man actually cared about the lowly new phone rep.

Lissette Morales wrote:

Mr. Alger: You always had a smile on your face and always were interested in talking to my parents and me. You have always treated us with respect and kindness and have inspired me in more ways than you can imagine.

Patricia (Pat) Whalen, whose daughter also lost her life on that fateful day, wrote:

My daughter had been hired by David to begin working at the firm upon her graduation from UofM in April 2000. So when she had asked if I wanted to come and meet her future boss, I didn't hesitate. I attended that evening and was amazed to learn what a kind, caring, and loving person he was. Upon seeing us enter the room, he hurried over to greet her with a BIG hug and said, "I wondered if you would be here tonight!" As Meredith's father had died when she was 11 and her sister was 9, it warmed my heart to know another caring male figure would be in her young life--and that she would not be just a "faceless" employee in just another firm in NYC.

There are countless other stories by individuals who were touched by David.  As it is not my place to list them all here, I implore you to go and read them for yourself.  They paint the picture of a man who was not aloof in his concerns for his company.  A charismatic man, he truly cared for each individual employee.  People who worked under him were not treated as mere numbers, but as individuals who mattered.  If only more employers would learn from the example set by him.

Not much could be found concerning his personal life, and perhaps that is best.  Yet it does not take a leap of faith to conclude that he was a loving husband, father and son.  Known for his bear hugs, the depth of love that he held for his family as well as the affection they held in return cannot be fathomed.

On that fateful September 11th morning in 2001, David was with other Alger employees on the 93rd floor of the North Tower.  The first to be struck, none who occupied it had any inclination that this vicious attack was about to take place. 

In the aftermath of the attack and our resulting loss of this great man, the University of Michigan renamed the “Alumni Achievement Award” to the “David D. Alger Alumni Achievement Award.”  A fine tribute, it encourages others to follow in his gigantic footsteps.

David D. Alger is survived by his wife and two daughters, as well as his brother and sister.  It is my profound wish that the legacy he started will endure well into the unforeseeable future.

For more information concerning David D. Alger, please visit the following websites:

David D. Alger - Guestbook
9-11 Victim Memorial
David Alger Obituary - New York Times
A Tribute to David Alger, Harvard College '66 - The Harbus
Remember September 11, 2001


Cathy said...

A very touching tribute. Thank you for remembering David Alger.

Flag Gazer said...

Thank you for this beautiful tribute to a remarkable man.

Reading the tributes and writing tributes reminds you of the vast depth of the human soul.

(Trying to make the rounds to the Project 2996 pieces, please stop by my place, too.)

Risa Tzohar said...

A very sensitive tribute.
Like Flag Gazer I am trying to make the rounds of the project.
Read about Ronald John Hemenway who died at the Pentagon that day:
here at my blog.

Anonymous said...

Great job. Thank you for remembering David- may he be a lesson to us all.

Alicia said...

Thank you.

I honor Christopher Paul Slattery.

Snarky Basterd said...

This is a wonderful tribute. Thanks for never forgetting.

Anonymous said...

David Alger is of Colonial New England stock.

TroubledPatriot said...

I'm glad to hear that Mr. Alger and I have something in common then, as I can trace my ancestry back to the Pilgrims. I'm honored to be of the same blood.

Anonymous said...

Even David Alger has some Cajun French origin.

Anonymous said...

David Dewey Alger is related to the big name people have Dewey ancestry:
George Dewey
Thomas Dewey
Melville Dewey

Anonymous said...

Also, Charles Schuveldt Dewey to boot! He was the grandfather of David Dewey Alger.