Monday, September 11, 2006

Valerie Silver Ellis

This post is part of the project 2,996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11.

MISSING: Valerie Silver Ellis
Valerie Silver Ellis, 46, had made plans with her husband, Sam, to visit her mother in Rehoboth sometime this past weekend. On Monday evening the couple of 18 years discussed his work as a theater production manager. On Tuesday, they both left early. She was headed to her desk at the World Trade Center. Sam has not heard from her since.

"I spoke with someone from her office in California," her husband said with a touch of a laugh, "who was on the phone with her at the time. All he could assure me was when the plane hit him and her were concocting a scheme to react to a humorous e-mail that was from another coworker. She's a real practical joker."

When asked what she loves about New York, Sam responded, "She hated the World Trade Center ever since 1993 and was like the canary in a coal mine. The first time she walked 104 flights of stairs, and that night we had a party. I hope we can have another one. I'll even invite you."
-from The Village Voice, Sept 19-25, 2001

Like so many others, I wasn't really sure how to go about this project. How would I get information? Should I try to contact those who knew her? What was she really like?

In the end, I decided to simply share here what others had already shared. There are snippets of Val around the internet... facts, memories, a tribute quilt block. She was a woman loved by those who knew her. She was full of humour and laughter and success. Valerie Silver Ellis, we remember you.

Valerie Silver Ellis, age 46, was a resident of New York; a partner, Institutional Equities Trader, in the ESpeed division of Cantor Fitzgerald. She joined the firm in 1981, and for 18 years worked in the World Trade Center. September 11, 2001, she was working on the 104th floor of the north tower.

Valerie was the first female senior class president at Takoma Academy in Maryland. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland.

She was married to Sam Ellis, a production manager working with the New York theater community.
- from

From those who knew her, as posted on 9-11 Heroes:

Like so many others I've read comments from, I only knew Val for a little over a year, but the impression she left on me was deep -- and grand. She was a hoot! We had fun, fun, fun, after long weeks of work, work, work. She was such an inspiration to me, and I know I let her down with my own foolish choices then and later, but she, of course, went on to become only more successful -- professionally and personally. That's just how she was. I wish I could call her today and ask her advice (I'm even in her same business now!). What a crime. - Cary, 2006-07-14

My name is Dan and I knew Val from the Hamptons in the mid 80's when I was a kid. I met her in the summer of 84 when she and Sam shared a summer rental in the Springs with my mom Pam. Even though I was only 10, we hit it off immmediately; she had such a great sense of humor and we both had a passion for music. Val was one of the coolest and kindest people I've ever known - she kind of felt to me like that hip young aunt who buys you tickets to a Grateful Dead show against your mother's wishes. There weren't many kids around the block we stayed on, so Val and Sam became my best friends for those summer weekends, and I have fond memories of going to the beach, riding bikes, and just hanging out listening to 80's pop and rock tunes and joking around with the two of them. They turned what could have been a boring summer into a good time filled with laughs. The next summer in 85, Val and Sam bought a house out there and I would ride my bike the 2 miles from my mom's rental and pop in unannounced, and Val never made me feel like I wasn't wanted even if I had come at a bad time. Unfortunately, I didn't see very much of her after that summer - the last time I saw her was at her place in the Village in 1991 I think it was. I didn't know she worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, all I knew was she worked somewhere as a trader, so on 9/11 I had no idea she was in the building. I found out later that night from my mother that Val worked at the top of the north tower and I was stunned and deeply saddened. I'll never forget Val, she was a great friend for the short time I knew her and a truly remarkable spirit. - Dan, 2004

I am Val's mother and as the 9/11 anniversary nears agqain my thoughts go to her. I should say many of my thoughts each day are of her. She was a wonderful daughter who loved to do things for her family. I am so thankful that I spent Labor day weekend with her in 2001 and that was the last time I saw her. We had such a wonderful time. She cooked my favorite foods and took me on "adventures". Things were never dull when Val was around. I was blessed to have her and Steve and Beth. God has been good to us and I thank all our friends who have loved and comforted us. - Joan Silver on 2003-09-06
One of the best Valerie Silver Ellis stories takes place in the early '80's when she was starting out at Cantor Fitzgerald. A senior trader asked her to take his shoes to be repaired, so Ms. Ellis had taps put on the toes and the heels extended to four inches. When the senior trader ordered the upstart young trader to redo the job, Ms. Ellis had the shoes bronzed.

"They ended up being friends," said Brian Hull, a friend and former client of Ms. Ellis. "She refused to be insulted, she refused to be intimidated. She just worked as hard as she could and she won."

Ms. Ellis, a 46-year-old equities trader, worked at Cantor Fitzergerald for 20 years, 18 of those at the World Trade Center.

"Someone said at her memorial that Val collected people," her husband, Sam Ellis, said. "She also loved to collect art. We had a place in the Hamptons and she liked the artists in the area. She loved the beach; she loved her dog Spudley. She also loved the theater and we'd often entertain clients by taking them to theater and dinner."

Mr. Hull said, "You never had to see her to know that she was in a room. You just knew her laugh. She always found a reason to laugh."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 16, 2001.
On September 11, 2002, one year after Val's death, her brother Stephen Silver wrote this tribute.
"Val understood people. She could talk with a homeless person or the chairman of the board. She would empty her purse to someone in need. Despite her professional and financial success, she never lost touch with what mattered - relationships and people, not money."
"I am honored to have known Val and to have witnessed her strong spirit, vibrancy and love of life. "
-Tracy Steinman, Friend, wife of co-worker

"Last Spring while Jeff's mother was dying of cancer Valerie gave him a book from Hospice which she had read and found useful during her mother's illness.He told me that they would talk and both would sob as they shared their sorrow. Jeff's quote was:"I have to stop talking to Val; the two of us stand sobbing in the hallway and I am a mess!" Those of us who were blessed to know Val and Jeff will forever miss their gracious presence in our lives. I offer my sympathy to Sam and the rest of Val's family.
-Chris LeVeen,wife of Jeff LeVeen(coworker), and friend. "
"Born of the 4th of July, she lived the "American Dream." She was "Auntie Val" to her family and lots of others. A quick mind and quicker tongue, there was no fear she could not overcome, no height she could not reach and no joke she would not entertain. Val created laughter and shared that laughter. You could always expect the unexpected from her. (Funny, poignant and bawdy stories upon request.) Val found a way to share tears as well and turn them into smiles that grew to laughter. She improved on what she found and created what she could not find. She created herself and her own world. She succeeded in that world and generously shared that success. She was direct, creative, exacting and very smart and she always knew just what to say and no one, no one got in her way.

Was she a saint? I think not, she didn't try to be. Was she real? I think so, and that is what we should all strive to be. No longer can we "Ask Val" but instead we must ask, "What would Val have done?" Then...........just do it!!!!! " -Sam Ellis, Husband


Vicky said...

Hi, this is a beautiful tribute. I passed your link along to someone who knew Valerie and still feels the pain of the loss. I'm sure this tribute will make her proud.

Mine is at for David Vera.

Take care,

Lori said...

I knew Val & this tribute is a beautiful tribute to her. I am sure she would be so grateful to you for doing this for her.

Val was a warm, funny, generous, beautiful person!

bob said...

I dated Valerie in the early '80s, and I still think of her. She was one of the most special people I have ever met. I miss her.