Triumph After Tragedy: The Jimmy Dunne Story

The great American City of New York, home to finance and fashion, is once again under attack from forces beyond their control. We all sit and helplessly watch as life after life, over 5000 at last count, falls to the deadly pandemic that has our country gripped in fear. How can anyone endure such horrific pain? It’s unimaginable for outsiders, but New Yorkers have been here before.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Jimmy Dunne, an up-and-coming amateur golfer, was at the Bedford Golf and Tennis Club in Westchester County. Co-workers at Sandler O’Neill, an investment firm he is now the senior managing partner of, convinced him to go there so he could qualify for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. His partner and best friend from high school, Chris Quackenbush, along with his assistant, Debbie Paris, went to work.

The offices for Sandler O’Neill were located on the 104th Floor of Tower 2, the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Chris, Debbie, and sixty-four other co-workers and friends died that morning. Jimmy had just completed his fourth hole and was shooting a solid one under par when he was notified by tour officials about what was happening at his company headquarters. The world stopped moving, not just for Jimmy and New York City, , but for all Americans.

Rising from the Ashes

Jimmy Dunne was supposed to play his qualifying round the day before at a different course, but his friend Chris convinced him to wait because he had a better shot at getting under par at Bedford. That simple twist of fate saved his life. He did not squander the opportunity. Jimmy rebuilt the company from scratch, made sure employees and families of the deceased were financially compensated, and set up college funds for the firm’s children.

Jimmy Dunne is in his sixties now, happily married with three children, and still has a single digit handicap. His friends and colleagues describe him as a “hard-charger” and a man of “iron will.” What he did to bring hope back to his people in the aftermath of 911 was miraculous. For that, Jimmy Dunne is this week’s October Golf Magazine hero of the week. Hopefully, New Yorkers will be inspired by his efforts and help the city rise from the ashes once again.

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