Remembering Kevin Michael Williams’ Unique Holiday Proposal

Kevin Michael Williams and his fiancee Jillian pose for photos after he proposed to her on Santa Claus’ lap at Macy’s in December 2000.
Kevin Michael Williams and his fiancée, Jillian, after he proposed to her on Santa Claus' lap at Macy's in December 2000. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, gift of Michael and Patricia Williams.

In 2001, Kevin Michael Williams seemed bound for a promising future. The 24-year-old had graduated magna cum laude from Boston College. The Long Island–native was an honor student as well as a talented athlete. Soon after graduation, he landed a job as a bond salesman at Sandler O'Neill on the 104th floor of the South Tower. And, two weeks before 9/11, he had moved into a new apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where his fiancée, Jillian Volk, was soon to join him.

Williams and Volk were high school sweethearts. With their future in New York City unfolding before them, Williams had taken Volk the year before to Macy’s just before Christmas. Sitting together on Santa’s lap, he popped the question.

“He handed the ring off to one of the elves, who then gave it to Santa secretly,” Volk recalled in Volk recalled in a Call to Remember recording made for the 9/11 Memorial Museum. “While sitting on Santa’s lap, he got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. And it was amazing. It was so creative and so Kevin. And just, he just could put a smile on anyone’s face. I miss him so much, and he was just an amazing person.”

Williams was at work in the South Tower on 9/11. His remains were identified on Dec. 1, 2002, which would have been his and Volk’s first wedding anniversary.

If you are interested in objects or recordings that reflect the life of a family member or friend who died as a result of the 9/11 attacks, you may learn more about contributing to the In Memoriam collection by contacting or by calling (212) 312-8800 x3.

By 9/11 Memorial Museum

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