Man who lost wife and daughter in 9/11 dies of cancer

A man whose daughter and Cork-born wife were killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York has died of cancer in the US.

David McCourt, who lost his wife, Ruth, and their four-year-old daughter, Juliana, when United Airways Flight 175 hit the World Trade Center, passed away last Thursday.

Local media reported the 61-year-old died at the CT Hospice in Connecticut following a lengthy battle with metastatic melanoma.

He came to the world’s attention following the 2001 attacks. In a tragic twist, Ruth’s brother, Ronald Clifford, had arrived at the World Trade Center from his New Jersey home on the morning of 9/11 and was in the WTC’s north tower when it was struck by the first plane. On leaving the building while helping an injured woman outside, he then saw the plane carrying his sister and niece smash into the south tower.

In a further twist Ruth’s close friend Paige Farley Hackel — who was Juliana’s godmother — died in the other plane that crashed into the WTC.

Mr McCourt had been living in Niantic in Connecticut, the state where he was born, although his family could trace their roots back to Waterford. After studying in Maine and Atlanta University he enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1963 and six years later he joined the family business, ABCO Welding Supply. Alongside his brother, Bill, he took over the running of the company in 1986 and in 1994 he married Ruth Clifford, who had moved to America when she was a teenager, and they moved to Newton, Massachusetts. Three years later Juliana was born.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks Mr McCourt helped establish the B.R.A.V.E. Juliana programme of non-profit organisation HELP USA, which focuses on teaching conflict resolution to children. Later he and his second wife, Mary Bryant, who he first met a year after the 9/11 attacks and who he married in 2011, founded the Juliana Valentine McCourt Children’s Education Fund. He also had twin sons and two daughters.

Neilan Funeral Home in his home state of Connecticut said a memorial service will be held for Mr McCourt on July 27 at the Old Lyme Country Club.

Ruth and her daughter are buried in St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork. Her brother, John, lives in Cork.


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