My name is Anne Leonhart from Fargo, ND. I am a complete stranger to
all of you and even to Ann. I was however quite moved by the Nelson
family on that unforgettable day and every day since. You see, I was
working at Sprint PCS here in Fargo on the day Gary Nelson called to
find out if I had access to Ann's most recent phone log. I remember
our conversations as if they were just yesterday.
Along with everyone else on Earth, my shocked and worried eyes were
glued to the news channels to see the destruction someone had created
on US soil. The phone didn't really ring much on September 11, 2001
but when it did, it was very difficult to find an ounce of composure
to answer it in that cheerful "customer service-y" way, "Thank
you for calling Sprint PCS, this is Anne." On the other end of
the line there was a short pause followed by an, "Ahem, what did
you say your name was?' I replied, "This is Anne." He said,
"My name is Gary Nelson from Stanley, ND. My daughter's name is
also Ann." Only for a short moment I thought, "COOL!"
until he continued, "She works at Canton Fitzgerald in the World
Trade Center, New York City." My knees immediately became flaccid
which caused me to plop down hard into my chair. I knew at that point
I needed to keep it together and do whatever it was Mr. Nelson needed,
right now. Even though I had never talked with Mr. Nelson in my whole
life, I could tell he didn't sound like him. He was so scared and worried,
I could feel it through the hundreds of miles of phone lines between
us. I informed him that I could access up to the minute call logs on
her account. Through the waterfall of tears falling from my eyes and
the Kleenex that blocked my perfect vision, I was able to find out that
her last phone call was made that morning to her boyfriend in Chicago
shortly after 8am NYC time. Apparently she was running just a couple
minutes late for work but was able to squeeze in one last call to him
right as she got to her desk.
I told Mr. Nelson I would keep a very close eye on her account all day
to look for any additional activity. After a few minutes of conversation
as to how all this phone stuff works, Mr. Nelson and I shared our fears,
with tears, of this situation. It had been hours since she made a call
on her cell phone.
I felt really important to the Nelson family as I could possibly have
news, hope, answers or anything that would make their worst fear go
away. He gave me his home phone number so I could let him know when
new calls showed up. I probably looked at that call log 700 times that
day, including three minutes after hanging up with Mr. Nelson. I prayed
that Ann had made a pile of calls each time I looked. Nothing. That
was what I had to tell Mr. Nelson a few hours later when he called,
just to see. He was so full of hope as was I.
He told me all about her, how much he had missed her when she moved,
again, but farther from home. He beamed with pride for her successes
in life. He was so proud of her for "going for it" and traveling
and experiencing as much as she did. He admired her kind and selfless
heart that was so full of love.
I gave him my schedule for the week, called him right as I got to work
for the day everyday, if he didn't already beat me to it and before
I left work each night. I wanted him to know, I was seriously on it.
We stayed positive as each day passed.
We ended our short companionship on that following Friday, the 14th
of September, 2001 with the realization that she was gone. Not one call
was made from her phone since the morning of September 11th shortly
before an airplane collided with her beautiful view of New York City.
We shared tears again that day for his lost daughter with the same name
I am writing this to let the Nelson's know that there hasn't been a
day that has gone by that I haven't thought of them, and of course,
Ann. I pray for them each and every day. I have seen all the TV spots
and interviews, I've read all the articles pertaining to their tragic
loss and have adopted Ann's list as one of my own. She was a brilliant
girl with amazing parents that have made an incredible impact on my
life. I, will never forget..........