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U.S. News
Maryann Colin: Widow of WTC victim

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

By Johnna A. Pro, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

When Robert D. Colin was alive, his wife, Maryann, worried about very little.

Her high-school sweetheart and then husband was the family's main income earner as well as a jack-of-all-trades, the kind of man who could figure the finances and fix the plumbing.

But in the year since Robert's death at the top of the World Trade Center's second tower, Maryann has had to step into that role, despite overwhelming grief. In the process, she has learned new things about herself and her sons, Brian, 22, and Jeffrey, 19, and as a family, their bonds are stronger than ever.

"We're doing. We're not doing great. But we're doing what we have to do," said Maryann, of Long Island, who is a Bridgeville native and Canevin High School graduate.

"I found I was very dependent on my husband," she said. "You don't realize how much you depend on somebody until they are not there."

Robert -- known in Pittsburgh by his middle name, Dana -- was her neighbor, and a Chartiers Valley High School graduate. He earned a bachelor's degree in marine transportation from the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. He was employed by Aon Corp. as a maritime insurance executive.

"It's just been very hard figuring out how to do things. Banking. Bills. Finances. How to handle things in the house. It's difficult," she said. "I get so many forms. There are still a lot of things that have to be filled out. It seems non-ending."

Because Bridgeville was their childhood home, Maryann took her husband's remains there for a memorial service on Dec. 29. The timing was particularly poignant since Robert Colin's father, Raymond, of Steubenville, Ohio, had died just eight days earlier.

"We had a memorial for my husband in the afternoon and the burial for his dad the next day," she said.

In the past year, Maryann tried to return to her job as a switchboard operator with Aon, but in January, decided to take a disability leave.

She has found strength in her sons, loving and supportive young men who are taking care of their mother as much as she takes care of them.

The two -- both of whom were high school valedictorians -- were just weeks into college classes when life as they knew it spiraled out of control. Keeping them focused on their studies was Maryann's priority over the last 12 months.

Brian, a student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, delayed his graduation for six months and received his diploma in May. He currently is applying to medical schools. Jeff is now a sophomore at Columbia University.

"I didn't know how we were going to pull through it, but I knew we would," she said. "I knew we'd be OK."

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