This evening, about a half dozen friends of Paul Sloan will gather for a meal, a drink and a toast to their old friend, one of about 3,000 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Alex Hautau said in very small ways, it's getting easier on the survivors of the fallen.
"It's bittersweet when we get together to sit around and laugh and remember, but I think the most difficult years are behind us — at least for most of us," said Hautau, who grew up with Sloan in Novato. "It's kind of nice to get together and tell stories."
Hautau, a San Francisco resident, graduated from l in 1993, the same year as Sloan. Eight years later, Sloan was working for the financial services firm of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, which had offices on the 89th floor of the World Trade Center's South Tower in lower Manhattan. He'd been a football star at San Marin and at Brown University before settling into his career, one that ended with so much more violence than anything you'd see on a football field.
Sloan was one of several Marin County residents killed in the terrorist attacks that day. Sloan and Jack Keohane (Class of 1978) were victims from San Marin High; Keohane, a New Jersey resident who was an attorney for a Swiss company, was struck and killed by falling debris near the base of the towers. Novato resident Jeffrey Collman was a flight attendant on one of the planes that struck the towers, and San Rafael’s Lauren Grandcolas was on Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Hautau said he's pleased that there is and that friends have purchased commemorative bricks near a plaque a few feet from the high school's football stadium. "Some are serious and some are funny," he said of the messages.
The memories of Sloan's life that Hautau recalls most easily are the ones late in Sloan's life as the group of friends began to establish their professional careers and meet up in San Francisco.
"Some friends went all the way back to elementary school with him, so they're going to have those memories," he said. "But the more recent ones are the ones that come to mind for me — like the time's we were going out to the city after college and getting to know each other again. A lot of us had really spread out for college, so those times we were cool because we were back together — all but a few of us ended up in the Bay Area."
Sadness is rekindled whenever the friends talk about a life cut short. Mentioning that Sloan didn't get the chances they were living out — having fun on the town, climbing the company ladder, establishing their own families — always leads the laughter to subside and the voices to tail off.
"He was definitely ... I don't know if overachiever is the right word," Hautau said. "You think where he would be right now, and it makes you scratch your head. He was on a path to be really successful. Some guys never get a shot, never get a chance. To see him grow into being a man, it would've been really special."
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