Monday, May 4, 2009

Larry Filler and Nancy Johnson Visit Us in Snoqualmie Valley

OK, a non-C-Dory article today.

This was going to be really easy to write. But it got a little more complicated midway through yesterday afternoon.

Larry Filler is my classmate from Rutgers Camden School of Law Class of 1975, and Nancy Johnson is Larry's wife, also a Rutgers Camden Law grad. Larry and Nancy live in Princeton, New Jersey. We last saw each other 29 years ago. Larry and Nancy were our good friends in New Jersey when we lived there. We had exchanged annual Christmas cards over the years, but it is truly amazing how easy it was to pick up right where we left off after all these years. Good friends are good friends forever!

Larry was in Seattle to speak at the American Public Transportation Association conference. He is the President and CEO of a New York non-profit called , which helps employers provide a federal transit tax benefit to employees. Larry was instrumental in getting the law through Congress to allow this benefit. He walks the walk, too - he takes a train from his home in Princeton, NJ, to his office in Manhattan, a 50 mile daily commute.

We had a delightful day. We toured the Snoqualmie Valley sights, including Snoqualmie Point Park, Snoqualmie Falls, and of course lunch at the the world-famous Snoqualmie Brewery and Taproom! We came back to our house to plan the remainder of their stay here. We got out the maps and fired up the trusty Macbook, and they now have ferry tickets to the San Juans and reservations for a cottage at Roche Harbor. Hopefully they will find time for a day in Victoria, B.C. We finished up the day taking them back into Seattle and we had a fabulous dinner together at Wild Ginger, arguably Seattle's best Pan-Asian restaurant.

So what was so complicated? Well, I am not sure how it came up, but while touring Snoqualmie Ridge, we heard a horrific tale. Larry, it seems, was in the World Trade Center on 9/11. He told a truly spell-binding tale. His office was on the 25th floor of Two World Trade Center. That morning, he was in the basement of One World Trade Center at the ATM machines, when literally all hell broke loose. Eye witness to history, and lived to tell about it. He wanted to go back to Two World Trade Center to make sure his employees were all OK, but the police made Larry and everyone else get away from the scene. Fortunately, all his employees got out OK. Larry encountered a person he knew on the street, all covered in debris, and took him to a restaurant restroom and got him all cleaned up. Somehow Larry got to Penn Station and on a train back to New Jersey. An amazing tale. It of course dwarfed everything else we had done or talked about all day. Larry related it all in his typical understated way.

And they never mentioned it in the annual Christmas card - of course it would be hard to work it in to news about the family! Just one of the most significant events in history, and my good friend Larry was an eyewitness to it all. Patty and I were just stunned as we were listening to think of how it might have turned out differently, how Nancy might have been writing to tell us about how Larry didn't get out OK. Fate is fickle, and we are so glad this had a happy ending for our friend!

No good way to close so I will just say "OUT."

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