Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memoriam

Francisco Cruz

1954 - 2001

The Quiet Guitar Player

Francisco Cruz was a security guard for Summit Security at the World Trade Center, he was last seen guiding firefighters through 5 World Trade Center.

"He was a good man," said his wife, Carmen Candelaria, who uses her family name. "I loved him so much."

The couple had been together for 21 years, she said, and Mr. Cruz was especially caring and sensitive during her occasional bouts with asthma.

"He helped me very much. When I was sick, he would go to the doctor with me or take me to the hospital," she said. "He was very special in my life."

Francisco Cruz was not much for words — the kind of guy who would go to a party, look over the dance floor and head straight for a dark, quiet corner. When Mr. Cruz, a security guard for Summit Security in the World Trade Center, did have something to say, he let his guitar speak for him, spewing out fiery renditions of tunes by Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Jose Feliciano. "Music was his life," said his brother Tomas Cruz. "It allowed him to escape outside of himself. He would just come alive."

Music hooked Mr. Cruz, 47, at an early age. While kids all around him were busy dreaming baseball, Mr. Cruz became mesmerized by a neighborhood kid who was learning to play the guitar, and earning lots of attention because of it. Young Mr. Cruz wanted to be cool, too. "But we didn't have a guitar, and our mother didn't have the money to buy one," his brother recalled. "So we would steal my uncle's guitar and hang out in the hallway with it, like we knew what we were doing."

Soon, Mr. Cruz had taught himself and his younger brother how to play. "I'll never be half as good as he was," Tomas Cruz said, "but when I'm playing, it keeps me with him and takes me back to our good times."

Family Tributes:

Gathered from online tributes (links below). Translations from the original Spanish (included); thanks to the Digital Dad.

September 1, 2002 – From Ethan, Francisco’s 8-year-old stepson

Dear Papa,

I want you to know that I miss you so much.I love you with all my heart.I think about you every day and sometimes I cry.You were like my real father and I thank you for that.Thank you for the love you gave me and for buying me all the toys that I wanted.Rest in peace.I will see you some day.Don't worry about Mama I will take care of her.Love you always your son.
Ethan Candelaria

September 1, 2002 "Para el amor de mi vida" (From Carmen, Francisco’s Wife)
Querido Frankie,

Aun recuerdo que en la madrugada del 11 de Septiembre 2001 tu no querias ir a trabajar,pero tenias que hacerlo.Mas tarde recibi tu llamada donde me desias que no sabias lo que estaba pasando afuera
Me acuerdo que te grite "Frankie salte del building" y tu me contestaste que no podias por que tenias que ayudar a los demas.Esa fue la ultima vez que escuche tu voz y se escuchaba el miedo que tu tenias.Nunca pense que me ivas a dejar y mucho menos de esa manera.Francho hace casi un ano que te fuistes de mi lado pero aun el dolor de haberte perdido se siente igual.Yo se que tu estas con el Senor y que estas descansando en paz pero, quiero que sepas que aun te extrano mucho.Tu eras mi esposo,mi amigo y mi companero.La persona con quien comparti mi vida por 22 anos.El hombre a quien yo quise,quiero y voy a querer toda la vida.Vivir sin ti no sera facil pero yo tratare de seguir adelante como tu lo hubieras querido.Te extrano mucho tu esposa y amiga Carmen.

Que descanses en paz y nos veremos algun dia.I Love You Francho.


My dear Frankie,

Once memory from the dawn of September 11, 2001 is that you didn't want to go to work, but you had to do so. A little later, I received your call where you told me that you didn't know what was going on outside. I remember that I yelled "Frankie get out of the building!" and you answered me that you couldn't because you had to help the others. That was the last time I heard your voice and I heard the fear that you had. I never thought that you would leave me and even less in this way. Frankie it's been almost a year since you left my side but the pain of losing you still feels the same. I know that you are with God and that you are resting in peace, but I want you to know that I miss you terribly. You are my husband, my friend, my companion. The person with whom I shared my life for 22 years. The man that I wanted, that I want, and that I will always want for my whole life. Living without you will not be easy but I will try to continue forward like you would have wanted. I miss you very much, your wife and friend, Carmen

You should rest in peace and we'll see each other again another day. I love you Francho

September 1, 2002

Dear Frankie,
We really miss you.We hope your in a better place near god.Mom really misses you alot,she feels lonley without you,but she excepted what happened and hopes one day she will be with you in heaven,until then we pray every day for you.God Bless you,we will always love you.

Love Freddy and Family [Alfredo Candelaria, Buffalo, NY]

I will never forget you.
-Carmen Candelaria(Wife)

March 11, 2002

Dear Frankie

Althought your stay here on earth was brief, you gave the best of yourself to those around you. We trully miss you, we will never forget you and we'll make sure that your nieces and nephews know your legacy. You are our HERO. Rest in peace. love your sister in law

[Zulma Cruz (Staten Island, NY)]

March 11, 2002

I love you Frankie, I love you very much, I'm sending you a letter to you to say I love you very munch and I miss you. You are now in heaven with Papa Dios.

Love your niece Nikki (3 years old) [Staten Island, NY]

August 29, 2002 (From Carmen, Francisco’s Wife)

Para mi querido esposo,

Hace casi un ano que me dejastes,pero no pasa un solo dia en que yo no pienso en ti.Te extrano mucho.Tu eras mi esposo,mi amigo, mi companero y el amor de mi vida.Siempre te llevare en mi corazon y en mis pensamientos.Que descanses en paz y algun dia nos volveremos a encontrar y seguiremos siendo felices.Te ama tu esposa, amiga y companera



For my dear husband,

It's been almost a year since you left me, but not a single day passes that I don't think of you. I miss you very much. You are my husband, my friend, my companion, and the love of my life. I will always carry you in my heart and in my thoughts. You should rest in peace and one day we will return to meet again and continue being happy. You are loved by your wife, your friend, and your partner/companion.


September 1, 2002 (From Carmen, Francisco’s Wife)

Querido Frankie,

Te extrano mucho.Hace casi un ano que te perdi pero aun parece que fue ayer.Visito tu tumba casi todos los dias y te hablo.Siempre te digo cuanto te extrano y cuanto quisiera verte otra vez.La familia tambien te extrana mucho.Yo se que tu estas con Dios y que estas descansando en paz.Nos volveremos a ver algun dia y entonces estaremos junto para siempre.Te quiere y nunca te olvidara tu esposa y amiga .


Dear Frankie,

I miss you very much. It's been almost a year since I lost you but it seems like it was just yesterday. I visit your tomb almost every day and I talk to you. I always tell you how much I miss you and how much I wish I could see you again. The family also misses you very much. I know you are with God and are resting in peace. We will see each other again some day and then we will be together forever. Your wife and your friend loves you, wants you, and will never forget you.

September 14, 2003 (From Carmen, Francisco’s Wife)

Querido Frankie

Tu me haces mucha falta todos los dias de mi vida. Yo se que ahora tu eres otro angel que vela por nosotros. yo miro tu retrato y pienso en ti todos los dias. Hasta que nos volveamos a ver y te quiero mucho. Tu esposa Carmen


Dearest Frankie

I miss you very much every day of my life. I know that now you are another angel that flies for us. I see your picture and I think of you each and everyday. Until we return to see each other again, I love you very much,

Your wife, Carmen

More information on Francisco Cruz:

Francisco Cruz was a security guard and an avid guitarist. He passed on a chance to work for higher pay at another building because 'he loved the World Trade Center'

Francisco Cruz wasn't much of a talker.

Soft-spoken and shy, the West Brighton resident would retreat into a quiet corner at parties and social gatherings. But put a guitar or bass in his hands, and Mr. Cruz would come alive.

From volcanic rock 'n' roll riffs to pulsating salsa beats, Mr. Cruz let his music do the talking.

"Music was an outlet for him to express himself," said Zulma Cruz, his sister-in-law. "He had a passion for music."

A security guard for Summit Security at the World Trade Center, he was last seen, Ms. Cruz said, guiding firefighters through 5 World Trade Center.

"He was a good man," said his wife, Carmen Candelaria, who uses her family name. "I loved him so much."

The couple had been together for 21 years, she said, and Mr. Cruz was especially caring and sensitive during her occasional bouts with asthma.

"He helped me very much. When I was sick, he would go to the doctor with me or take me to the hospital," she said. "He was very special in my life."

Although Mr. Cruz was a relative newcomer here -- moving to West Brighton four years ago -- the Island long held a special place in his heart. The serene waters at Clove Lakes Park reminded him of his native Puerto Rico, said Ms. Cruz, and he gravitated there on visits to her West Brighton home.

"His dream was to have a house on Staten Island," said his wife.

He played in rock and Latin bands for a quarter of a century. When he wasn't jamming in small Brooklyn clubs with his brother, Tomas, he was entertaining relatives at family affairs, Ms. Cruz said.

Jimi Hendrix, the left-handed rock guitar legend, was among her brother-in-law's biggest influences, said Ms. Cruz.

And just as Hendrix's high-voltage solos and lyrical phrasing fanned Mr. Cruz's musical zeal, he attempted to instill the same love of music in his three nieces, five nephews and stepgrandchildren.

"Every Christmas they would get something related to music -- a little guitar or keyboard, headphones or CDs," said Ms. Cruz, who has one of her brother-in-law's original guitars. "The kids loved it."

Mr. Cruz took the youngsters under his wing, helping them learn their instruments. Her daughter, Candice, 16, always sought his assistance before taking a music test in school, Ms. Cruz said.

Born in Puerto Rico, Mr. Cruz moved to Brooklyn in the early 1960s. He graduated from John Jay High School in Brooklyn, and from Kingsborough Community College, also in that borough, with a music degree.

But in 1983, he and his wife wanted to "try another life" and moved back to Puerto Rico, Ms. Candelaria said. The experiment lasted just 18 months before the couple returned to Brooklyn.

"He loved New York too much," she laughed. "He loved Brooklyn." They settled in West Brighton in 1997.

Mr. Cruz was employed by several security companies in Manhattan before joining Summit Security 13 years ago.

He worked in Tower 2 and his affection for the Twin Towers tragically became his undoing. Less than a year ago, Mr. Cruz had passed on an opportunity to work for higher pay at another Manhattan building.

"He loved the World Trade Center," Ms. Cruz said.

On the day of the attack, Mr. Cruz was sent to 5 World Trade Center after the second hijacked plane slammed into Tower 2. He and a team of security guards were escorting firefighters through the structure to aid the evacuation.

"The security guards knew the ins and outs of the building," said Ms. Cruz. During the evacuation, Mr. Cruz telephoned his office manager, who was on a below-ground level of Tower 2, and instructed those still in the office to leave the building before it collapsed, Ms. Cruz said.

Mr. Cruz relished nature as much as he did working at the Twin Towers and playing guitar. The majestic trees and serene pastoral nooks drew him to Clove Lakes Park, where he combined his ardor for the outdoors and music. Guitar in hand, Mr. Cruz would sit by the lake for hours, composing and arranging music. Mr. Cruz also enjoyed visiting Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Benedicta R.C. Church in West Brighton.

In addition to his wife, Carmen, and his brother, Tomas, surviving are his son, Francisco Jr.; his mother, Juliana Velasquez; his sister, Iris Cutillo, and five stepgrandchildren.

Sources, and further links:

[The preceding tribute is part of Project 2,996, a worldwide effort to memorialize each individual 2,996 victims of 9/11. May we never forget. (Have we already?)]

If you have something to add, or would like to make changes to this tribute, I have created a Wiki page here [ ]. Feel free to edit or add anything.

I never knew you, Francisco, but from reading about you and your family's online tributes to you, you have touched my heart with your simple warmth and love of life. You cared about others, and communicated in your quiet way through music. You were last seen helping firefighters rescue people. You were, and still are, and inspiration to all who meet you. Thank you.

May you rest in peace.



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