William A. Karnes "Tony"

William A. Karnes "Tony"

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  • Occupation:
    Marsh & McLennan | Software Trainer
    Biography:

    Tony Karnes was born 3-23-64 in Knox County, TN. Parents now deceased are Leonidas Carlisle Karnes, Jr. and Stella Brock Karnes. Siblings are Bobby L. Karnes (died in car accident 1987), Brenda Vandever, Vicky Ratcliff, and Gayle Barker. Tony was born in Mom’s later years and we siblings thought of Tony as our son. Tony lived a normal life in a small community attending Gibbs Elementary and Gibbs High School in Knox County, TN. He loved music and the arts and was an avid hiker and played tennis. He was a member of Clear Springs Baptist Church. When Tony was 13, our father died from a major heart attack. Mom had always been a housewife and Dad’s death was traumatic as well as posing a financial hardship.

    At age 16 Tony worked part-time to help with expenses. He graduated from Gibbs High School in 1982 and was the salutatorian of his class. Tony attended University of Tennessee for a short time until he was offered a job with Aetna Life & Casualty in the commercial underwriting department. He was with Aetna approx. 2 years and went with Broadus Anderson (insurance agency) working in the accounting dept. This agency changed names a couple of times and was bought by Marsh USA. Tony bought his own home in Knoxville and lived there for approx. 3 years when we learned that Mom had brain cancer. This was in Sept. of 1996. She had surgery and as we cared for her at home, Tony sold his home and moved back in with Mom to help care for her. Mom lived 14 months after her surgery.

    We sold Mom’s condo and Tony transferred with Marsh to Memphis, TN working in the computer area. August of 1999 Tony transferred with Marsh to New York also in the computer field. He lived at 75 West St.which is 3 blocks from ground zero. He traveled across the US as a software trainer. The horrific event of 9/11 (he was in Tower I) ended his plans and his young life. I was at work and was told that a plane had crashed into the WTC. Of course, I thought this was a joke and immediately went to an office in my building to watch TV. I saw Tower I on fire and saw the plane hit Tower 2. I knew Tony was in the building and I can’t explain what this has done to my family as we relive this sight each day of our life and this will be with us until death. My sisters and I flew to New York on 9/16 and went through the traumatic experience of giving DNA. Unless you have done this, you just can’t imagine.

    I still visit New York just to be close to Tony as he is there somewhere in the rubble on Staten Island in the landfill. Can you even imagine? My last visit to New York was on 9-11-03 and Gayle and I went to the apartment area where Tony lived, visited the family viewing room, which overlooks ground zero to leave photos and just to reflect, and attended the memorial ceremony. Tony’s young life was snuffed out by this horrific murderous event. He loved New York and belonged to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens which he visited often. The pressures of the past five years and reliving 9/11 have taken a tremendous toll on my two siblings and myself. We live each day seeing Tower I fall. Where was Tony at the time of impact? Was he aware of imminent death? Did he see what was going to fall on him? Was he trapped? Did he suffer? Was he alone in his office? I hope and pray that death was quick and that he didn’t suffer. This is breaking my heart as I write this.

    Tony’s memorial was held in Knoxville, TN. on October 25, 2001. The church was full and several of his friends from his business travels attended. The media including the local newspaper and TV stations attended. Memorials were made to The Knoxville Rescue Mission (homeless people) in Knoxville. Tony cared for these people and had he stayed in Knoxville had plans to become involved in the activities to help these people. The other memorial was contributions given in his name to help East Tennessee give a fire truck to New York. This was accomplished by giving Ladder Company #14 a fire truck (called THE FREEDOM ENGINE). The truck was delivered to this fire dept. location at Harlem in March of 2003. $12,000 was donated in Tony’s name. Gayle and I visited the Harlem fire station when we visited in July of 2003. What a bittersweet experience.

  • Guestbook

    Tony, you are still missed and loved more each day. I miss your phone calls and your smile that would brighten any room. Rest in Heaven with other members of our family. Til we meet again, love your sister Brenda Posted by Brenda Vandever

    Tony, I can t believe it has been 10 years since we have seen you as it only seems like yesterday. The City and County of Knoxville had wonderful and solemn ceremonies this year (9-11-11) two of them with reading of poems and a brief history of each of the 3 victims with ties to Knoxville(including you)and the City and County mayors were there. Your friend and previous co-worker (now the Mayor of Knox County) attended and made remarks about your license plate CMEFLY. He said that he always stood aside when you entered the parking lot. The choir from our High School (Gibbs High)sang. Many of your friends and others as well as your family attended. Your family misses you so much. We will meet with you and see your beautiful smile when God calls us home. Til then rest in peace and know that you are still loved. Your sister, Brenda Posted by Brenda Vandever

    Tony, I went to the 9/11 memorial ceremony last Thursday. It was a beautiful service. All the news stations mentioned your name along with the other 2 Knoxville victims. Tim Wheeler, Jack Copeland, and Nancy Tompkins came to support us. We love and miss you, Gayle Posted by Gayle Barker

    Tony, It has now been 13 years since we last saw you. I wish I could walk to you one last time. I miss your practical jokes and funny laugh. One day we will meet again. Posted by Gayle Barker

    To Tonys loving family: Words cannot express the sadness that our community feels for your familys tremendous loss. Even at this ten year anniversary I know that the pain is searing. I am so sorry that our precious Tony was taken from us too soon. Tony had the gift of lighting up a room with his uplifting spirit and laughter. I met him through a mutual friend and we used to gather to play cards frequently. Tony lived life to its fullest and loved everyone fully. You are blessed to have been touched by such a sweet brother and by such sweet memories. I pray for you to have comfort and peace. Published by Chandy Hensley