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Long Island remembers

Janice Lee Blaney

  • Age: 55
  • Employer: Marsh & McLennan
  • Place of death: Tower One
  • Community: Williston Park
  • County: Nassau

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About Janice Blaney

This profile was originally published in 2001/2002

Things were looking up for Janice Blaney after a protracted period of crisis in her life. She had lost a parent, then her only sibling died, said Scott Blaney, her only child.

She had bounced from one job to another searching for meaningful work and from one apartment to the next in a fruitless quest to find living quarters within her means. And she was still trying to come to terms with her broken marriage.

Blaney's fortunes changed in the spring of 2001. Years earlier, her determination to get ahead and her decision to enter the then-burgeoning computer field paid off. She landed a job at Marsh & McLennan as a computer technician while sharing with her son his two-bedroom Williston Park apartment. Blaney, 55, felt isolated working the night shift, her son said. But she felt that it was a small price to pay for a decent-paying job with a future.

Around the end of August 2001, an opportunity to work the day shift came Blaney's way. Feeling like her prayers weren't falling on deaf ears, she was happier than she'd been in a long time. "She was so proud that she finally had a well-paying job where she could use her hard-earned computer skills," her son said. "She often called her friends and family to tell them of her view of a lifetime" from her offices on the 102nd floor of Tower One.

Scott Blaney said he was half-asleep when his mother left for work on the morning of Sept. 11. That, combined with the fact that the terrorists' attacks killed her in the midst of one of the most joyous periods in her life, weighs heavily on him" She finally found a job she'd been searching for, and then something like this happens," he said.

A former nursery-school teacher who quit the profession to raise her only child, Janice Blaney had been hit with a series of life-changing happenings, her son said. Her father, Everet James McDonald, died in 1991. A year later, her only sibling, Robert McDonald Sr., died. Then her 19-year marriage crumbled. Struggling to make ends meet, working a string of low-paying, dead-end jobs, she moved in with her son at the beginning of last year.

Between changing work and living arrangements - she lived for a while in Westborough, Mass., with her mother, Norma McDonald - Blaney chalked up mileage on her 1995 Geo Metro, driving to visit her surviving parent. As the only living child, Blaney felt she had a responsibility to spend as much time as she could with her widowed mother, her son said. She couldn't do it as much as she would have liked because she was busy trying to get her own life on track.

The Monday night before the attacks, she wrote a note to her son, saying an apartment she was eyeing looked promising. His mother was "very determined," Scott Blaney said. She always planned for the long term, taking great care to make sure she had options to fall back on.

While she was more than 10 years from retiring, she had looked at brochures for places, including Long Island and Connecticut, where she might settle. Her work at Marsh & McLennan was a passport to a future she'd struggled for long and hard.

"She loved her job," Scott Blaney said. "The pay was great, she liked the people she worked with, and the view was like no other." - Collin Nash

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