Thomas Nicholas Pecorelli was only 12 years old when he landed his first job as a cameraman. As an apprentice for his local television station in Newburyport, Mass., he captured town events like city council meetings on video. He also served as class historian at Newburyport High School where he often brought a camera along to document school events.
After earning a degree in communications from the University of Massachusetts, Pecorelli followed his dream around the country, moving from New England to Florida to work at a local station in Fort Myers. He occasionally emerged from behind the scenes, appearing in short comedic segments that highlighted his talent for impersonations. He also spent time at a station in Tucson, Ariz., before moving to Los Angeles to work for the Fox network in 1996.
Pecorelli was behind the camera for Fox Sports studio programs, entertainment shows like Talk Soup on E! Entertainment Television, and occasionally worked high-profile events such as the Academy Awards’ red-carpet arrivals. While living in Los Angeles, he met his wife, Kia. They married in October 1999, and in the summer of 2001 they learned that they were expecting their first child.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Pecorelli boarded American Airlines Flight 11 at Logan International Airport in Boston, returning home from a trip where he attended a friend’s wedding and visited his family and friends living in Massachusetts.
In 2002, the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recognized Thomas Pecorelli’s contributions to the television industry with an honorary Emmy. The award was also bestowed upon seven other television industry professionals killed on 9/11.
Six of them (Gerard J. Coppola, Donald Joseph DiFranco, Steven A. Jacobson, Robert E. Pattison, Isaias Rivera and William V. Steckman) were broadcast engineers for television companies who worked high in the World Trade Center’s North Tower, tending to sensitive transmission equipment on the tower’s distinctive antenna. Another, Glen Kerrin Pettit, was an NYPD officer assigned to the department’s video production unit who responded to record the agency’s response to the attacks.
Thomas Pecorelli’s family donated his award to the 9/11 Memorial Museum as a testament to his passion for broadcasting. It is currently on display in the Museum’s In Memoriam gallery, where visitors are also invited to explore the touchscreen tables to learn more about Thomas Pecorelli’s life and career. Pecorelli’s family also honors his love of broadcasting with an annual scholarship, awarded to Newburyport High School students who share his talent for the arts.
If you are interested in donating photos or objects 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (212) 312-8800 x3.
By Kirsten Madsen, Assistant Manager of Memorial Exhibition, 9/11 Memorial Museum