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On Monday, September 11, 2996 blogs will be paying tribute to the 2996 victims of 9-11. This is a tribute to the Senior Vice President, Portfolio Trading of Cantor Fitzgerald, Matthew Blake Wallens. On 9-11, Cantor Fitzgerald was the hardest hit of any other company:
Cantor Fitzgerald’s former New York office, on the 101st-105th floors of One World Trade Center, lost 658 employees, or about two-thirds of its workforce, in the September 11, 2001 attacks, considerably more than any other company, including the Fire Department of New York.
Every year the names of the victims of 9-11 are read at Ground Zero to honor their memory and there are many sites out there that lists the names of all the victims but it’s easy to lose sight of the person behind the name. Putting a life to a name helps us to understand the maginitude of the loss of that day.
Matthew Blake Wallens was a beloved husband. He appreciated having fun:
When Matthew Blake Wallens had lunch at his favorite pizza place with his wife, Raina Wallens, it was his habit to turn to her when she was finished.
“He would say, `That was fun, wasn’t it?’ ” Mrs. Wallens recalled. “I would say, `Yeah.’ And he would say, `That is what we do, we have fun.’ ”
That was the spirit Mr. Wallens, 31, created wherever he went, no matter what he did. So when he fell in the mud, it was the greatest mud in the world, said his father, Dr. Donald Wallens. “He found something to grab hold of in all life’s experiences,” Dr. Wallens said.
Known to all as Blake, Mr. Wallens was a senior vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald whose contagious enthusiasm made his clients look forward to his calls, knowing he could make a bad day good and a good day better.
“There are things in life you need,” his father said. “You need to work and you need to play and you need to love. He did them all in an extremely satisfying way.”
He had a child-like appreciation for life:
Blake knew how to have fun. He had no trouble accessing his inner child, and so our friends’ kids all loved him and his silly ways. He appreciated the small gifts of everyday life; a bike ride through Riverside Park, a hike in the woods, a delicious meal, going to the movies, reading a really good book, spending time with friends or family – any of these activities would bring a big smile to Blake’s face, and, as a result, to mine.
He was loved by his wife:
Blake was my best friend and the best person I knew. He was a beautiful person – his smile and gentle spirit radiated warmth, kindness, intelligence and integrity.
Blake loved life, and for the past five years that we were together, his contagious enthusiasm and unfaltering devotion elevated the quality of my life immeasurably. He was always a joy to be around. When I look back at our time together, there are no regrets or what-ifs. Just many, many happy memories, and lots and lots of love.
And in-laws, remembering when he asked them for their permission to marry their daughter:
Sharon burst into tears, opened her arms and embraced Blake. She said – “We love you so very much. We love you as if you were our own son – as much as if I had given birth to you myself.”
We did then. We do now. And we always will.
And he was remembered fondly by those who knew him as a business associate:
I knew Blake since 1996 and we used to share financial information. I worked for Dow Jones and got him news services and he sent me the morning call from CF. He was always full of life when I called him about breaking news. Always appreciative and treated me with respect. As I told him many times, I appreciated his efforts to help us out as well.
As a teenager:
I remember Blake when he was 15 years old. I had the pleasure of spending three summers with him at camp. He was one of those people I always enjoyed being around.
I knew Blake from our days at Cornell. I will always remember him for his overwhelming positive outlook on life and his ability to turn dust to gold. I can honestly say that I never saw an ounce of negativity in him in all the time spent together.
As a child:
I remember you as a little boy running about doing what boys do best, get into trouble, not bad trouble mind you, just the regular miscievious kind.
And as a childhood friend:
I knew Blake in Pasadena, California, when we were in grade school together. I remember spending New Year’s Eve on the Rose Parade route with him and other friends. He had a wonderful spirit even at the young age that I knew him. He will be missed.
Matthew Blake Edwards, was not just a name on a list, he was a real person with hopes and dreams and was loved and admired by others. It is clear from the quotes that his loved ones will miss him and his ethuism for life, the joy he brought to others, and his sense of fun in whatever situation he was in.
It’s sad that someone who loved life so much had it cut short at such a young age. Remembering his ethusism for life, must have made his friends and family appreciate his life all the more and his story can be an inspiration for others to enjoy life and appreciate each moment that they have been given:
And of the articles I have read, fun seems to be the best thing to learn from Blake. I truly hope that what we take and give can be a fraction of what he did.