New York Times Portraits of Grief

Niurka Davila

She was a joyful person, Niurka Davila, an exotic element dressing up the bureaucracy inside the Port Authority's data-control division at the World Trade Center's north tower. She talked and laughed and made herself memorable to colleagues who became her friends for life.

She loved her routines — breakfast every day in the Port Authority's 70th-floor lounge with her friends Jackie Willins and Myrna Maldonado, followed by lunch and then another break, at 2:30, for coffee — and she also had her eye on changes. She was taking courses at Audrey Cohen College that she treated very seriously, Ms. Willins said. When her friend Emma Eng announced that her daughter would be getting married, Ms. Davila, 47, asked not to be invited. "I have a lot of studying to do," she explained.

Ms. Davila, who was born in Cuba, criticized her own English, although everyone told her it was fine. A baby granddaughter had arrived recently, so she and Ms. Willins, who had one about the same age, often shopped together for children's clothes. They also celebrated their birthdays, both in April, together at the office. This year, Ms. Willins stayed home.

Her friend had come to the Port Authority in 1985 as Rosa Davila. After she became a United States citizen, she told everyone she preferred to be called Niurka. They obliged, in their own way, Ms. Willins said. "We used to call her New-yorka."