20 years later, remembering a ‘gentle giant,’ Wade Green


Alicia Govia wears a thin metal memory band on her wrist, engraved with her brother’s name, “Wade B. Green, 9-11-01, WTC” and an American flag, which has mostly worn off. The band isn’t pretty, she said, and she has to take it off at the airport because it always sets off the metal detector. But it means the world to her.

Green, who was born and raised in Muttontown, was a field-service representative for Thompson Financial for four years. He was a trouble-shooter for technical issues, and was in the World Trade Center’s north tower the morning of Sept. 11, at the restaurant Windows on the World, setting up equipment for a conference.

He wasn’t supposed to be there, Govia said. “Wade worked in the tristate area,” she said. “I heard he switched with someone that morning to be assigned to the World Trade Center.”

Roxanne Green, Wade’s wife, was also busy in Manhattan that day, at Bear Stearns, where for 20 years she worked in technology services. She was in her office, at 3rd Avenue and 54th Street.

After the attacks, she recounted, “I walked to Penn Station, and when the trains started running again, got the first train out. Things were popping around in my head but … I thought maybe he would be safe.”

When the phones were working again Roxanne made many calls to see if anyone had seen her husband. Then her worst fears were realized at 6 p.m. Wade’s supervisor called to say he had been at Windows on the World.

In the days that followed, Roxanne went to Manhattan many times. She put posters up with Wade’s photo on them downtown, and gave his toothbrush and comb to workers using DNA to identify the remains of the victims.

“To financially support my family, I had to submit forms for the families of 9/11,” she said. “During that time, everything was churning in my head. Is he alive or not? And I was hoping he would show up one day, but that never happened.”

She went to the city morgue, too, but wasn’t permitted inside. Feeling helpless, she joined others searching for their loved ones. “A lot of us were sitting on the roadside watching as the big trucks went by with body parts,” she said. “It was hard doing that.”

At one point she had a glimmer of hope, when she received an email saying that Green was in a hospital in Manhattan. But when she called the hospital, she quickly learned it was a hoax. “That hoax was done to so many family members,” she said. “I don’t know what the goal was.”

Wade’s remains were never recovered. He was 42 when he died.

It took Roxanne three months to come to terms with the fact that he had died. The family held a memorial service.

Govia said that she and her father knew right away that Green hadn’t survived. “It’s like the days after, I was living in a dream,” she recalled. “It was the most surreal in life I ever remember feeling. Like the rug was pulled from under me.”

Crying, she said that 20 years still feels like yesterday, and that the week of Sept. 11 is always hard for her. “My brother was so full of life — the last person you would think would die young,” she said. “He was someone you would be drawn to, a gentle giant, very handsome, with a smile to die for.”

Roxanne and Wade met at a barbecue, and married in 1994. They moved to Westbury, where they raised their daughter, Danielle, who is now 24. Wade was a family man, Roxanne said. She still remembers Danielle’s first birthday, when Green pushed his daughter up and down the street in a new wagon. He missed so much, Roxanne said — their daughter’s graduation from high school, from college, and her birthdays.

Alicia Green Govia was the youngest of four. Wade, the middle son, saw what was involved in raising an infant and helped their mother raise Alicia.

“We were 12 years apart, so I was the baby,” she said. “He spoiled me to death. I remember he would sit and watch cartoons with me when I was 5. He was a teenager, but he would watch them with me.”

Wade was the last child to leave home, Govia said, and his parents adored him. “When he came into the house he would always say, ‘Hello, family,’” she said. “And he sang in the church choir at the Church of Advent. He was a great father and a wonderful uncle. He always included my girls in anything he did.”

Becoming a single parent when Wade died led Roxanne to change careers. She worked for a number of school districts, including Glen Cove, and eventually become a computer teacher in the Herricks School District.

“I realized when being a single parent, commuting was not the way to go,” she said. “I wanted to be with my daughter, and I’ve been watching her grow and enjoying all of the vacations and holidays with her.”

Green’s name was added this year to the Sept. 11 memorial in Oyster Bay. His name will be read, along with the other local people who died, on Saturday.

In 2006 and in 2010, Roxanne read her husband’s name at the memorial ceremony in Lower Manhattan. She was nervous, she said, but read his and nine other names correctly.

“It was hard,” she recalled. “But I wanted to give Wade a personal tribute and let him know that we are thinking of him, even though he is not here anymore.”