September 11, 2006 - Admin

He Was the Life of the Party

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers
will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
Each blogger will pay
tribute to a single victim.We will honor them by remembering their lives,
and not by remembering their murderers.

I Remember Colin Richard McArthur

Colin Richard McArthur died during the combined terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Colin worked as a Senior Vice President of the international insurance company, Aon Inc. His office was on Floor 104 of 2 World Trade Center, also called the South Tower.

Colin was born in 1949 in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of four children. He began attending the University of Glasgow in 1967, studying geology and physics, but left without graduating. He taught for a while before choosing a career in insurance. In 1977, this new career took him first to Toronto, where he met and married Brenda and then in 1986, the couple moved to Montreal. Colin became a Canadian citizen but he maintained a dual British and Canadian citizenship. In 1989, Colin, a meticulous person who liked to complete any project he started, returned to Glasgow and passed the physics examination required to complete his degree. Colin and Brenda moved to New York in 1997 where they both worked for Aon. Brenda left Aon in 2000.

On Friday November 2, 2001, family, friends, co-workers, and clients from all over the world attended a celebration of Colin’s life. The memorial service was held at Shore Oaks Golf Club in Colin’s hometown. The golf course was a fitting setting in that one of Colin’s passions was golf, which gave him a captive audience for his sharp wit and fast one-liners. One of his friends said, “Colin was not much of a golfer, even he’d tell you that, but what a great guy to play 18 with.”

Colin’s friends universally mentioned his tremendous wit and sense of humor. Brenda said he was always “the life of the party.” He was very clever and a fast thinker, traits which helped him to be a great joker. His comebacks were quick and often hilarious. People enjoyed his Scottish accent and he was adept at mimicking other accents as well. He was fun loving but always a gentleman, and considerate of those around him. One of his friends said, “He was always the funniest man in the room. He was charming and, really, who can resist a Scottish accent? He was absolutely hysterical. Truly, falling down, can’t catch your breath kind of funny.”

Colin also had a great love of music of all kinds. He played several instruments and sang. He formed his own folk music group ‘The Kells’ while at the University of Glasgow, but he enjoyed classical music, Frank Sinatra, James Taylor and of course, Scottish music. He was known to take over the piano in restaurants or bars, then play and sing for hours much to everyone’s enjoyment.

In addition to his two self-proclaimed passions of golf and music, Colin had other hobbies. He spent many happy hours dismantling and rebuilding computers. A friend said his basement contained a very nicely equipped electronics shop. Colin often bought computers and parts on eBay and built or repaired computers for friends.

Colin’s computer hobby combined well with his love of photography, both taking and then printing his photos. He also enjoyed cooking but according to Brenda, Colin wasn’t the best cook, but he tried hard.

In 2002, the University of Glasgow along with Colin’s widow created the Colin McArthur Postgraduate Scholarship. Through the scholarship, the University is extending its heart-felt sympathy not only to Colin’s family and friends but also to the American people as a whole. This award provides tribute to Colin and would enable a student who has lost a parent or guardian in the events of September 11, 2001 to attend the University of Glasgow and study any discipline.

The terms of the scholarship were amended in 2003 to include siblings as well as sons and daughters of those who died in the 9/11 tragedy. Martina DeSimone from New Jersey was the first holder of the Colin McArthur Scholarship. Martina lost her only brother at the World Trade Center in the attacks of September 11.

The scholarship was amended again earlier this year, with Brenda’s approval, to make it more widely available. The scholarship became open to any US student accepted for a postgraduate research course of study at the University of Glasgow.

Under these new terms of eligibility, University administrators have just appointed the second Colin McArthur Scholar. This new scholarship holder is due to begin research studies in Glasgow this autumn in the Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences. Her studies will lead to the award of a Ph.D. degree in 3 years.

No additional contributions to the Colin McArthur Scholarship Fund have been received recently, meaning this is likely to be the last full scholarship to be awarded. It will take approximately $600,000 USD to perpetually fund the McArthur Scholarship, which will assure that Colin’s legacy lives on in his birthplace. If you would like to make a contribution to the scholarship, or if you would like information about applying, please contact the University:

In the US: The University of Glasgow c/o RBS 101 Park Avenue, 6th Floor New York NY 10178 Tel: 212 401 1460

In other countries including the UK: The University of Glasgow Development and Alumni Office 2 The Square GLASGOW G12 8QQ Email:

I asked Martina DeSimone the first holder of the Colin McArthur Scholarship if she would like to contribute to this memorial. The following are her words:

From the first day I began to roam the streets of Glasgow, I felt a comfort and ease in knowing that I was essentially walking in Colin’s footprints. Each subsequent day, I felt the same feeling… living each moment through his eyes. The University is located in a quiet and intimate area and each day I got the same positive feeling.”

“At most college campuses, there is this feeling of innocence, of young, carefree life and the University of Glasgow was no different. This gave me mixed emotions. For one, it made me feel alive and unpredictable, the possibility that I would meet new friends, learn something new about another culture, etc. However, at other times, I would think that Colin must have felt this same innocence when he attended the University. Then years later, would have his life taken from him, yet again at a time of innocence. However, I quickly learned that this was backward thinking, to dwell on the manner in which he left us, rather it was more important to focus on the moment and to enjoy the time we have with family and friends.”

In closing, I asked one of Colin’s friends to tell me how he would describe Colin, his prompt reply was, “he was genuinely a nice guy.” In the words of Scottish dramatist James Matthew Barrie (best known for creating Peter Pan) “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” And in my words…Colin, I’m sure you’re still making them laugh!

Colin Richard McArthur

Colin Richard McArthur 1949-2001

This memorial was derived from newspapers, Web sources and from people who knew Colin. I thank everyone who helped me put the bits and pieces of Colin’s life together. I’d like to thank Martina DeSimone for agreeing to share her thoughts about the time she spent in Scotland. I’d especially like to thank Mrs. Eileen Reynolds and others at the University of Glasgow and Colin’s friends (you know who you are).

Wesley Slade


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  • Nelma says:

    Well said, finally a good report on this stuff

  • jhm47 says:

    May Colin rest in eternal peace. May his murderers rest in eternal torment.

  • Mike says:

    I enjoyed looking at this site and I must say that was a very interesting comment. I must agree with this post. This makes me really think about this subject and the comment stated. Keep the comments coming on this subject

  • Leslie Scrivener says:

    I’m a reporter at the Toronto Star newspaper in Canada. We are running a series of daily profiles on the Canadians who died in 9/11 and I’d like to speak to people who knew Colin well. Can any one help? Appreciate a reply at :
    Thanks very much, Leslie

  • I thought you might be interested in the “Toronto Star’s” tribute to Colin:–9-ll-portraits-in-grief-colin-mcarthur

  • Adam Alatif says:


    My name is Adam Alatif. It was a real pleasure reading all the tributes and comments about Colin. I must have met Colin on a couple of occasions. My young family back in 1998 decided to purchase the house where Colin and Brenda lived, just outside of Montreal, Canada.

    I can recall quite vividly how both Colin and Brenda conducted themselves when we came to see the house. I had a chance to spend some time with Colin in the basement – he took me down to show me all electric utilities and how certain things functioned. I also remember the amount of information that Colin put together in a large folder! Everything was well marked properly outlined by meticulously detailing every single piece of information. That was very impressive.

    I also recall that as we stood around chatting about various aspects of the house, suddenly, Colin picked up his guitar and started playing it with ease and fluidity. Then, he started singing a folk song and I just stood there admiring his voice and his performance. Then, Colin noticed our little boy (3 years old at the time) wondering around looking at something he could connect with. He managed to spot a small electric keyboard somewhere in the basement.

    As you can see, I hardly knew Colin but, in the one or two hours I met him he had a great impact on us. Hi actions demonstrated a great intent to help, care, assist & inspire.

    Hearing about the loss of Colin was a complete shock to us back in 2001. I think it is imperative that the focus should be on how Colin lived his life and how many hearts he touched.

    My greatest respects go to Brenda for setting up the Colin McArthur scholarship. This is the best gift that Colin could have given to many generations. Well done.

    Finally, you remember that electric keyboard that I mentioned earlier. Well, once we purchased the house, Colin left it as a present for our little boy; Leon. As the years went by and once Leon turned 8, we decided to give him some piano lessons as a present. For the first 9 months Leon used that keyboard to practice on, until we realized that he was to take music more seriously. Eventually, we ended up buying Leon a piano and a professional keyboard. Now and at the ripe age of 18, Leon is studying Jazz Piano and he plans to either go to McGill or win a scholarship to pursue his music dreams in Boston, USA. Leon is now writing his own music, given many performances and managed to raise over $2000 for the Japanese Tsunami that occurred 3 years ago.

    Life is filled with uncertainties and surprises. It was the keyboard that Colin left behind as a present for our son which inspired him to play music and eventually make it a dream come true.

    Thank you Colin for your generous heart and may the deeds done in your name inspire and uplift generations to come.

    God bless.

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