New York Times Portraits of Grief

Charles L. Chan

For Charles L. Chan, a small-town boy from the Midwest, life was going according to a plan he mapped while at the University of Illinois College of Commerce and Business Administration. He graduated in January 2000. That May he took a job at the World Trade Center, trading currencies for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor of the north tower.

He bragged to his family back home in Peoria, Ill., that the views of New York Harbor from his office were awe-inspiring, said his mother, Julia Chan.

Mr. Chan, 23, lived with two roommates in the heart of the financial district on John Street in a trendy apartment building. His only telephone was a cellular, like most young, hip professionals. "He had thousands of hours and the best long-distance plan you can imagine," Mrs. Chan said.

Mr. Chan, whom relatives called Chip, learned the importance of mapping strategy through growing up with five brothers. They were always competing against one another in basketball, soccer or baseball.

"With five brothers you learn to interact because you are living in a group," Mrs. Chan said. "There is always compromise, and there is always knowing how to work with someone. He was always trying to get someone in backyard to get a game going and teasing them about how he was going to win. They are all very competitive."