In Memory of Joanna Vidal

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The following article appeared in the October 1, 2001 edition of the New York Newsday Daily Newspaper:

Her Gift: Making People Smile

By Victor Manuel Ramos

October 1, 2001

As he remembered his daughter, Enrique Vidal did not want to sound too boastful, but he could not avoid it. To him and his wife, Lesbia, Joanna Vidal was always their perfect little girl. "She was good at everything she did," Enrique Vidal said in a calm voice. "If anyone is sad, you look for Joanna. Joanna will make that person smile." Joanna, a 26-year-old Yonkers resident who was an event coordinator for the London-based publishing house Risk Waters Group, is listed among the missing in the World Trade Center attack. The first of two children born to Dominican immigrants living in the Inwood section of Manhattan, Joanna was such an accomplished student that she was admitted to Mott Hall, a school for gifted and talented children. She was really good in math and loved music, her relatives said. At age 10, she played piano at an event in Avery Fisher Hall in Manhattan's Lincoln Center. For 14 years, she trained as a ballet dancer. After her family moved to Yonkers, she went on to college, getting her bachelor's and master's degrees in mass communication from Iona College and the College of New Rochelle, respectively. After school, she started organizing events for a bar association in New York City. Then, this January, she landed her dream job. She loved that she could travel to put together events at different sites, and she loved the social interaction her job afforded her, relatives said. Sept. 11 was the last day of a conference she had organized for her company at the Windows on the World restaurant on the 107th floor of Tower One. The first day of the event went smoothly, and she was confident everything would work on Tuesday. But right after the first plane crashed, a nervous Joanna used her cell phone to call her mother, her father and her boyfriend. When she reached her father, after a couple of attempts, she told him there was a fire in the building. He told her to get out, immediately. She said that the people in the room were doing everything they could. "But no matter what," Joanna told him, "I want you to know that I love you." Before he could answer, the connection broke off.

Copyright (c) 2001, Newsday, Inc.
This article originally appeared at:

The following article appeared in the New York Times on the Web:

A Conference and a Call

On the Monday night before the terrorist attack, Joanna Vidal, a 26-year-old event coordinator for Risk Waters, the London- based financial publishing house, was ecstatic. The first day of the company's conference at Windows on the World, an event she had helped create, had been a brilliant success. And at dinner with her father, Enrique, and her mother, Lesbia, in their Yonkers home, "she was so hurried, making her preparations, that she was eating standing up," Mr. Vidal recalled. In fact, the first day had gone so smoothly that Ms. Vidal was hoping to leave the conference after the first speaker; after all, so much work was waiting on her desk in her office at 270 Lafayette Street. And so on Tuesday morning she hurried to the trade center at 5:30 a.m. After the attack, "she called from the conference and said the building was on fire," Mr. Vidal said. "She said, `I want you to know that no matter what happens, I love you.' And then she was cut off."

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The following appeared in The Risk Waters Group Memorial Service Program:

Joanna Vidal

Trying to imprint paper with the true essence of Joanna's spirit is an impossible task because she was a unique and wonderful individual, who had so much to offer.

Jo managed to leave an indelible mark on everyone she met, however short or long the meeting. That was one of her many gifts. She radiated a light that literally shone through her smile, which she always wore. She lived her life with energy, enthusiasm, hope and vitality, and she cared deeply for those around her. Jo had time for everyone and anyone, and was always willing and wanted to help.

Working with her was always a delight and a bonus because she was honest and relaxed in her approach. She brought a personal, caring and human touch to her job that somehow felt slightly out of place in the tough world inhabited by investment bankers. She exuded true warmth and humor in every situation - something not all of us could manage - and few things were impossible with Jo's help.

We feel blessed that, even for a short time, Jo shed a little light on Risk Waters. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family, to her loving partner Jason and to all those lives she was such an important part of. Our lives should not be darker because we will miss her, but brighter because we knew and loved her.

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