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U.S. News
Louanne Baily: Widow of Flight 11 victim

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

By Cristina Rouvalis, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

How do you tell your 3-year-old that his daddy died because his plane slammed into a skyscraper?

Louanne Baily has done it over and over, in small concrete steps that leave her son Jacob baffled.

"What's dead?" Jacob has asked her many times.

"Can we put the plane together?"

"How can we un-dead Daddy?"

For Baily, who moved back to her native Mt. Lebanon this summer, explaining the death of her husband, Brian M. Dale, to her three young children is the most wrenching part of rebuilding her life. The family was living in Warren, N.J., when Dale, a native of Irwin, boarded American Airlines Flight 11.

Jacob, now a 4-year-old with blond curly hair, is the oldest child and the only one with concrete memories of his adoring dad.

Baily told him, "Heaven is where everybody is happy. What do you think Daddy is doing in heaven?"

"He wants his body back," Jacob answered.

"It's crushing," Baily said. "There's a fine line between causing pain and keeping Daddy alive."

The 2-year-old twins, Rachel and Russell, rely mostly on video of their father chasing them around the house and everyone shrieking. "They will have a hole and not know why," Baily said.

Though she is pained by telling them things they shouldn't have to hear, Baily is greatly comforted by her children. A month after Dale, co-founder of Blue Capital, a New York City-based investment firm, died in the terrorist attack, Baily was so despondent she imagined what it would be like to be dead.

"My children are the reason to keep going. Whether you want to get up or not, they get up. They bring humor and life."

Baily, a youthful-looking 45-year-old with a gracious manner, is buoyed by all the generosity and kindness since 9/11. Strangers from as far away as California have donated to an educational trust that Blue Capital started, and a second grade class of the Jonesboro School District in Arkansas adopted her children and sent them toys.

Coming back to Pittsburgh has brought her comfort, especially since her sister-in-law, Lauren Dale, and Lauren's husband, KDKA TV anchor Ken Rice, live nearby. Baily's mother-in-law, Mary, also moved with the family from New Jersey to Pittsburgh.

But Baily aches for her husband, the 6-foot 2-inch man with a big intellect and a big heart. The valedictorian of Norwin High School, Dale graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College, where he played tight end and was nicknamed "Hulk." He received an MBA at Dartmouth and a law degree at the University of Michigan.

Baily and Dale met after college while working as junior auditors in Pittsburgh, but didn't start dating until 1995 and then married in 1997. Dale always joked that it took him 14 years to get a date with her.

Dale wasn't supposed to fly on 9/11. Baily thought he had safely flown to California the night before. His connection had been canceled. It was his practice not to call her late because she was so exhausted from putting the children to bed.

It still feels unreal when she's out walking and thinks, "How can it be such a gorgeous day and Brian isn't here? How can something so horrible have happened?"

She tries to imagine what Brian would do with child-rearing issues. He was always so thoughtful.

Every night, Baily and her children sit down at the dinner table and keep his memory alive by saying grace. "Thank you for our daddy who we miss so much."

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