Benjamin Clark (chef)

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Benjamin Clark
Born Benjamin Keefe Clark
1962-06-30
New York City, U.S.
Died September 11, 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 39)
South Tower, World Trade Center, New York City
Cause of death Collapse of 2 World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks
Nationality American
Occupation Chef
Spouse Lashawn Clark
Children 5

Benjamin Keefe Clark (June 30, 1962 – September 11, 2001) was an American chef and victim of the September 11 attacks. Clark was working as the only corporate chef for hundreds of employees on the 96th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center that day. He urged people down the stairs, possibly saving hundreds of lives while losing his own in the process.

Personal life

Benjamin Keefe Clark, also known as Keefe, was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 30, 1962 and graduated from John Dewey High School in 1980. He served as a United States Marine and became a corporal before returning to New York to pursue cooking, a passion he picked up from his mother. After receiving an education at Le Cordon Bleu, Clark joined Sodexo and became an executive chef for corporation clients.[1]

At the time of his death, Clark was 39 years old and resided in Brooklyn. He left behind a wife and five children.[2]

September 11 attacks

On September 11, 2001, Clark was working as the sole corporate chef for more than 250 Fiduciary Trust employees on the 96th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. After the neighboring North Tower was struck by American Airlines Flight 11, but before United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, Clark began urging hundreds of people out of their offices and down the stairs. He was last seen assisting a woman in a wheelchair along with three other people. Clark was killed in the collapse of the building.[1]

According to Fiduciary senior vice president Bibi Conrad, Clark was likely responsible for the escape of hundreds of his company's employees. Reportedly, after several hundred people had fled downstairs to safety, Clark traveled back up to ensure that everyone else had left.[2]

One of Clark's children, then-17-year-old Chaz, witnessed the attacks from Stuyvesant High School, where he was a student.[3]

Aftermath and legacy

Clark's memorial service in October was attended by 800 people, including Marines and chefs in their respective attires. Many of the people who attended the service were alive because of Clark's actions.[4]

Speaking of Clark, his wife, Lashawn, stated: "I still can't look at him in the past tense because I look at my children and the legacy is still there -- the giving, the caring, the loving person." Channing Thornton, a childhood pal of Clark, stated: "Keefe was always trying to make life better for others. He always looked out for everyone else besides himself. Wherever Keefe is now, he's probably making a good meal, and smiling."

Patricia Hannigan, who served as Clark's district manager at Sodexho for five years, recalled that he "had a great temperament, was cooperative no matter what and was always very respectful."[2]

Clark's mother, Elsie Clark, hangs a banner on the fence alongside the front-yard memorial to her son at midnight every September 11. According to Elsie, on September 11, 2001, one of Clark's children had woken up at 4:00 am while he was getting ready for work and warned him not to go into work that day. Elsie recommended that her own street be named Benjamin Keefe Clark Avenue in honor of her son.[4]

See also

References

External links