Kansas City Remembers 9/11

Six 9/11 victims came from KC area

The Kansas City Star

Six of the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were from the Kansas City area. Here are their brief profiles:

Denease Conley, 44, worked as a security guard for Summit Security Services, which served such clients as NBC, the U.S. Open and the World Trade Center.

In high school in Kansas City, “Denny” studied karate and loved Bruce Lee. She served in the Navy and qualified to be a New York City firefighter.

She also had a studious side, receiving a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from Hunter College. “She had a thirst for knowledge,” her sister Barbara Haynes told The New York Times. “And this was a child that at one time did not want to go to school.”

Witnesses saw her with firefighters, helping people out of the north tower. “She could have run to safety,” her friend Toxie Givins told The Star.

Randy Drake, 37, was working as a network integration manager for Siemens in the financial district when the hijacked passenger jet flew into the north tower.

His building, 195 Broadway, across the street, was evacuated, and he called his wife, Tammy, back in Lee’s Summit to say he was all right. When the south tower was attacked, however, Drake was still in the street below and was hit by falling debris. Flown back to Kansas City, he died on Sept. 22.

The avid fisherman and golfer had a son, Joe, then 17, and dozens of beloved nieces and nephews. “He often said he would rather be with his family than anybody else,” his wife told The New York Times.

Julie M. Geis, 44, a vice president at Aon Consulting, was attending a monthly meeting in the south tower of the World Trade Center.

Months earlier, a gay-pride group had honored Geis for leadership of the Women With One Voice organization as well as a gay softball league.

At her memorial service, many spoke admiringly about how the travel-loving Geis lived her life — proudly and openly, facing things head-on. A sister spoke of her as “the best book I ever read.”

Ronald J. Hemenway, 37, was assigned to the office of the chief of Navy operations in the Pentagon, where his body was never found after the jetliner struck the west side.

“For a long time I had this glimmer of hope that he was wandering around with amnesia,” his mother, Shirley Hemenway, told The Star in 2005. “We never really had closure.”

Born in Alaska, Hemenway followed a love of horses to Kansas. He joined the Navy at age 30, determining that he needed a career. Stationed in Italy, he married Marinella.

He applied for the Pentagon post, telling his mother: “I probably won’t get it, but if I do, I will be closer to Kansas and home every night with my son.” He left two children, Stefan, 2, and Desiree, 10 months old.

Lacey B. Ivory, 42, a 24-year Army man, was the senior enlisted military assistant in the office of the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs.

Ivory’s wife, Lt. Col. Deborah W. Ivory, stationed at a nearby Army base, phoned his office right after the plane struck. His voice mail still worked. She thought that meant the senior master sergeant’s office was intact and that he would call soon.

“And he didn’t call, and I knew.”

Born in Marvell, Ark., Ivory moved with his family to Kansas City, where he graduated from Manual High School. In the service, he earned degrees and looked to a second career in counseling youths. He left four daughters: Adenika, Maisha, Quawana and Rashida.

Gregg H. Smallwood, 44, a Navy chief information systems technician, was assigned to the office of the chief of naval operations at the Pentagon.

The Overland Park native enlisted in 1979, served at sea, left the service in 1981, then returned in 1988. His service included shore duty from Guam in the Pacific to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. He was assigned to the Pentagon in 1998.

He was originally listed as missing, but now a grave is marked at Arlington National Cemetery. He left his wife, Lisa, and three daughters: Wendy, Lynn and Valerie.

A family member said in 2001: “His daughters still get a big bang out of their dad goofing with them. That says something when teenagers like you.”

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