William A. Karnes "Tony"
Occupation:Marsh & McLennan | Software TrainerDedicated Memorial Sites: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.