February 7, 2015
Statement on the Loss of John C. Whitehead, Founding Chairman of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. He was 92.
Every one of us at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is deeply saddened by the loss of our Founding Chairman, John C. Whitehead. In the wake of 9/11, amidst devastation and loss, our great city and nation needed a true leader to help guide the recovery and revitalization of lower Manhattan. We were blessed to have John take on that charge. He embarked on a journey marked by emotional, political, and physical challenges, steering downtown’s resurgence and establishing a master plan for the World Trade Center rebuilding that would help to heal one of our nation’s deepest wounds. And then he founded the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. As our Chairman, John led us successfully through so many challenges, from early fundraising milestones to finalizing the design of the Memorial and Museum and getting construction started, all in the midst of a city still grieving and struggling with how best to memorialize our loss.
But John Whitehead was prepared for those challenges because of a lifetime record of serving his country when we needed him most—a career that stretched from storming the beaches of Normandy in WWII, to taking the helm at Goldman Sachs, to serving as Deputy Secretary of State under President Reagan, to leading some of our most essential non-profit organizations. Throughout his 92 years, John consistently stood up for what is just and what is right, and in so doing, showed us all that leaders who have integrity at their core can make a tremendous difference on the national and global landscape.
John lived a life that embodied that integrity. What’s even more striking, given all that John accomplished, is that he was universally regarded as kind, thoughtful, and generous. John’s approach—whether to global finance, world politics, or the development of a memorial and museum at the heart of our nation’s loss—showed a true social conscience.
We offer our deepest condolences to John’s wife, Cynthia, his family, friends and all of the lives he touched. We will forever keep this extraordinary man in our hearts and minds, and his contributions will always be a part of American history.