Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Maile Hale had a lifelong passion for the ocean. During a 2011 visit to the 9/11 Memorial, her two sisters, Marilyce and Martha, brought a jar of sand from Malaekahana Beach, where they spent time together while growing up on the island of Oahu.
After graduating high school as valedictorian, she traded in Hawaii’s white sand beaches for New England winters, attending Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. While earning her degree in chemistry, she maintained a wide range of interests, including ballet and modern dance. She even stayed tied to the sea that she loved, participating in a maritime studies semester in Mystic, Conn.
Far from home, Maile made strong connections with the new people she met at college. According to those who knew her, this was a special gift of Hale’s. A close friend, Kimberly, shared in a 2007 interview with StoryCorps that Hale “knew how to make her friends her family.” In the same interview, Kimberly remembered how excited she was for Hale to see snow fall outside her dorm window:
“She was from this exotic place where she hadn’t really—she’d experienced snow, but only skiing—like, not really falling from the sky, just kind of on the mountain. So she just seemed ill prepared for a New England college experience. And that’s my impression of her freshman year. I don’t remember actually meeting her and her telling me, ‘I’ve never seen snow fall.’ But I do remember running to her room and saying, ‘You gotta look out the window, it’s snowing.’”
Undaunted by the change in scenery, Hale moved to Boston after graduation and took a position with Boston Investor Services as an administrative assistant. She rapidly climbed the corporate ladder, and after just two years earned the role of vice president and chief operating officer for the company. On Sept. 11, 2001, Maile Hale was attending the Risk Waters Technology Conference on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. She was 26.
By Kirsten Madsen, Assistant Manager of Memorial Exhibition, 9/11 Memorial Museum