New York Times Portraits of Grief

Bryan C. Jack

For days, friends thought Bryan C. Jack, a budget analyst for the Defense Department, was missing in the ruins of the Pentagon. By a strange twist of fate, it turned out that he was among the passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed at the place where Mr. Jack, on most days, would have been crunching numbers at his desk. On Sept. 11, he was on his way to California on business.

Colleagues said Mr. Jack was a brilliant mathematician. As director of the programming and fiscal economics division, he made sure that defense programs reflected the ideas and policies of the administration. He joined the department in 1978.

Vance Gordon, a fellow program analyst, said no one at the department could have done the job Mr. Jack did.

"He was a mathematician, but also a real intellectual," Mr. Gordon said. "He had an incredible breadth of knowledge — certainly the best the country had to offer."

Mr. Jack, who grew up in the small East Texas town of Tyler, was a National Merit Scholar, a Presidential Scholar and a Henry Luce Scholar in Japan. He had a master's degree in business administration from Stanford University and a doctorate in economics from the University of Maryland.

"Bryan was interested in music, photography and art and many other things you often do not associate with bureaucrats," Mr. Gordon said. "When we cleaned out his office, we found more than 40 classical and modern music CD's."

Mr. Jack, 48, and Barbara Rachko, an artist from New York, were recently married, though they had been together for about 15 years. For parties, they took pecan pies — a piece of Texas and of Mr. Jack's childhood. "Bryan's pies were highly regarded," Ms. Rachko said.

Every year Mr. Jack and Ms. Rachko got a shipment from the Jack family farm in Paris, Tex., which was dotted with pecan trees. "I have a freezer full of pecans that will never be made into pies," she said. "I have begun to feed them to the squirrels."