Conn. man who lost wife, daughter on 9/11 dies

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man who lost his wife and their 4-year-old daughter in the 9/11 terrorist attacks has died of cancer. David McCourt was 71.

McCourt died Thursday of metastatic melanoma, Thomas L. Neilan & Sons Funeral Home in New London told The Associated Press on Sunday.

McCourt’s wife, Ruth, 45, and their daughter, Juliana, were aboard United Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles to meet a friend of Ruth’s at Disneyland. Their plane struck the south tower of the World Trade Center.

The friend was aboard the other plane that hit the north tower.

Ruth McCourt’s brother was working in one of the World Trade Center towers that day but escaped.

In January 2002, David McCourt said he had considered suicide.

“Ruth and Juliana were my life and my passion,” he told an audience at a New London synagogue. “I was going to end it all. If faith could justify taking these two beautiful creatures, I just didn’t want to go on. But something kept me going.”

“It’s been a journey of spiritual awakening to go from where I was,” McCourt said. “If you don’t have the spiritual awakening, you don’t survive.”

McCourt helped found B.R.A.V.E. Juliana, a program of HELP USA, to teach nonviolence and conflict resolution to children. He said his wife and daughter died because some countries teach their children to hate.

“What we have do is to start with the children in this country and teach them tolerance, compassion and understanding,” McCourt said in 2002.

A garden on the grounds of New London’s Lyman Allyn Art Museum was established to honor the memories of Juliana and Ruth McCourt. David McCourt called it a “metaphor for seasons and renewal and healing for those who are left behind.”

He later retired to Florida.

McCourt is survived by his wife, Mary Bryant, whom he married in 2011, two sons, two daughters, nine grandchildren and one sister.

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