Love Stories: Karen Juday and Rich Pecorella

A man and a woman stand on a deck, hugging each other with big smiles.
Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, Gift of the Hawley and Pecorella families

While attending an IndyCar race at Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania, Karen Juday sat down next to a New Yorker named Richard Pecorella. Karen was there to cheer on her brother, a mechanic with Team Penske. She would often drive from her hometown of Elkhart, Indiana, to support her brother’s team as they traveled around the country. Rich had never attended a race before but had received tickets from a friend. This was his first auto race as a spectator.

As the two casual seatmates began chatting about the ins and outs of IndyCar, they started to realize how much they had in common. Each had raised two children and was in the middle of difficult marital separations. A subsequent dinner invitation and a gas station bouquet marked the beginnings of a love story. In a 2005 StoryCorps interview, Rich remembered, “I knew as soon as I looked at her that she was the one.”

Within a few months, Karen moved from Indiana to Brooklyn to be with Rich. She took to New York City immediately, exploring the shops and bakeries in their neighborhood and marveling at the beauty of the nearby Verrazano Bridge. She found a job as an administrative assistant at Cantor Fitzgerald, where she worked on the 101st floor of the North Tower. During the workweek, Karen and Rich would commute together, he to downtown Brooklyn and she to lower Manhattan. Outside of their jobs, the two relaxed by attending baseball games, going out to dinner, or taking impromptu weekend trips. They made plans to marry in Las Vegas in June 2002.

After her death on 9/11, Rich honored his fiancée’s memory by successfully campaigning to have the corner of 64th Street and 20th Avenue in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn—the block where the couple lived for four years—renamed Karen S. Juday Place.

Photograph of a crowd of people standing on a street corner at a dedication ceremony.

Rich stands with his daughters, his parents, and Karen's brother, Pat, at the street dedication ceremony of Karen S. Juday Place. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, Gift of the Hawley and Pecorella families.

Rich also shared many photos and precious items representing their love with the 9/11 Memorial Museum, including a Valentine’s Day card he received from Karen, addressed to “My Clyde” and signed, “I love you, / Karen / Your Bonnie.”

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

Previous Post

Thomas Hegghammer Addresses the Rise in Global Jihad

Hegghammer discussed his research and insights from his book, a biography of the influential ideologue who played a crucial role in the international spread of the jihadi movement.

View Blog Post

Next Post

Daughter of 9/11 Flight Captain Reflects on Support Shown to Her Following the Attacks

“The biggest takeaway from 9/11 for me was that you might be able to break down steel and structure, but you can never destroy love.”

View Blog Post