Gary Bird

He was a corporate cowboy. Gary Bird worked in risk management, but his great joy was riding horses. He was practically born in the saddle. His mother was riding horses when she was eight months pregnant with him, until her doctor stopped her.

He lived in Tempe, Ariz., where he kept three quarter horses. He rode as often as he could, including multiday trail rides. His wife, Donna Killoughey Bird, and two children, Amanda, 15, and Andrew, 13, rode, too, but Mr. Bird was the avid one.

If he wasn't surrounded by open spaces, he would get edgy. In 1984, he was in New York for four days to attend a conference. By the fourth day, he told his wife, 'I'm really claustrophobic here, because I can't see the horizon.' As she put it, 'It was a case of `don't fence me in.' '

Mr. Bird, 51, took last summer off and spent a good part of it training a new filly named Dani. On Sept. 7, he rode the filly with a saddle for the first time. On Sept. 10, he began a new job as senior vice president at Marsh & McLennan. He was to work out of Phoenix, but spent the first two days in New York for meetings. On Sept. 11, he had a three-hour meeting starting at 8:15 a.m. at the Marsh offices in the World Trade Center. He told his wife he'd be home in Tempe by 8 p.m. for dinner.

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Gary and I worked together daily when he was the Risk Manager at Phelps Dodge, and I was the Marsh global client executive. I grew to know Gary on many levels: problem-solving, planning, innovating, executing, traveling, arguing, appreciating each other's sense of humor, bad singing, and talking about what's important..the list goes on. His family was the most important gift in his life. They were his EVERYTHING. I miss Gary Bird.
Karen Mildenhall, Colleague
Sep 11 2023 6:52PM
To Gary's Family, my son is a freshman at Virginia Military Institute and they are doing a climb today in remembrance of 9-11. Each cadet chose a person to honor by placing their name and picture on their backpack. My son chose Gary since I now work at Marsh. God bless your family and know that we will never forget Gary. Take care, Nancy and son Matthew Norman
Nancy Norman, Colleague
Sep 11 2023 5:45PM
Dear Gary. You are being kept in memory today. MMC was my employer for 28 years. We may have been states away but together as corporate family. I know you are riding free and unhindered in your wide open spaces. Ever on......
Lori Tenold , Colleague
Sep 11 2023 8:07AM
My 9yo daughter and I visited the 9/11 memorial today. I told her to pick a name at random, the same way fate chose Mr. Bird that day. We talked about how each of those names was a real person that mattered. Someone with dreams, and family, and a favorite cereal and a past that brought them there that day. I’m glad she chose Gary Eugene Bird. I’m glad we learned about Gary and his love of horses and wide open spaces. Our sincere condolences to Gary’s family.
Nathan Adams, Friend
Jul 18 2023 4:03PM
I didn't know Mr Byrd personally but I vivedly remember news of his death reverbirating through the insurance community here in Phoenix, AZ, in the days following the 9/11 attack. So many were shocked and saddened. I am sending my sincere condolences to all his family and friends. Gone but not forgotten.
Leslie Honcharik, Colleague
Sep 12 2022 7:17PM
I was a 28-year employee in the Exec-U-Care department in Iowa City. We were in the MMC family. Giving respect and remembrance to Gary today for what it's worth. Wishing him peace and light in his heavenly spaces.
Lori Tenold, Colleague
Sep 11 2022 7:51AM
I met Gary while working in the Underwriting Dept at PRUPAC, in Scottsdale, AZ. What can I say? There just are no words. He was a gentleman, soft spoken, and just a wonderful human being. His face will forever remain etched in my memory. I am a better person for knowing him. God bless his family, and God bless the MAN. ♥️
Cyndi (Hanna) Minihan , Colleague
Oct 19 2021 11:07PM
I met Gary back in1975 when I got out of college at ASU. He was my first boss at an insurance company called PRUPAC. Very nice guy, one of my best bosses ever. I went backpacking with him and some other PRUPAC employees in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix. I actually worked for Marsh and McLennan years later, as did my wife’s brother. Rest In Peace Gary. You went way too soon.
Allen Ruby, Colleague
Sep 12 2021 1:37AM
What a life celebrated by you family with grace, strength and humility. I have met both Donna and Andrew via very different circumstances. I was taken aback by the shared depth of their compassion for others. They could have easily turned bitter and dissatisfied with life but instead have made the decision to live in the light. They honor Gary with their quiet, humble example. I am blessed to have been not only a witness but a recipient of the Bird family's kindness and compassion. Andrew you helped my niece Mackenzie with your story at a time that another adult could never have had the impact that you did.. Thank you! Donna you taught me to always look at the whole story, to be led by the truth in assisting people when they need it most! What an amazing family! In gratitude and with prayers for continued peace! JULIE GRADILLAS
Julie Gradillas , Friend
Sep 11 2021 5:12AM
My thoughts & prayers have been with the Bird family every year & more since that fateful day in 2001. I worked for Dr. Chip Rollins, Gary & Donna were patients of his. I knew Gary first, before he met Donna. Gary always wore sunglasses throughout his appointments; when I asked Dr. Rollins why, he said Gary was petrified of being at the dentist. Then Donna became a patient too. I remember the kindness of both & how they spoke so lovingly about one another. I knew them before they were blessed with Amanda & Andrew. I’m glad Donna & their children shared their story. I cried many tears on the 20th year of that horrendous day.
Judy Dunham, Friend
Sep 13 2021 5:43AM
I had the pleasure of knowing Gary as a colleague during my employment at Phelps Dodge in Phoenix. Gary was well respected by everyone and always helpful and supportive to me and my HR team when we interacted. A real super nice guy who was great to work with! In a world of corporate cultures, true leaders are difficult to find. Gary was certainly one of those rare finds! There has not been a year since Gary's passing that I have not thought about him and his family members having to fill the enormous void left by him. On this 20th anniversary of his passing I think you said it best Donna...... that you knew you were loved by Gary during his time here with you and there was no doubt he knew you loved him as well. May your awareness of his unwavering love for you continue to give you Amanda and Andrew strength in your journey forward. Thank you for allowing me to share this tribute.
Anne Costello Kimball, Colleague
Sep 11 2021 8:40PM
Honoring you, Gary. On this 20th anniversary you are not forgotten. I was an Iowa City employee of the Exex-U-Care department on that day. I was in my fifth year of employment. I would go on to work there 28 years and would see the memorial on the wall containing all the names. A sad history that forever binds us. Peace to you, and ever on.....
Lori Tenold, Colleague
Sep 11 2021 0:10PM
Donna, If this email reaches you please know that from the time since I found out you that had lost Gary you have been in my thoughts - especially this time of year. Please know that this Saturday, as part of a local VFW event here where I live, we will be having a reading of the names of those we lost on 9-11. One of the names I have requested to read will be Gary's. May God keep you and your family safe. Sincerely Brayton "Pug" Willis
Brayton “Pug” Willis, Friend
Sep 10 2021 6:38PM
I was fortunate to spend some great "windshield time" with Gary traveling between the Phelps Dodge mines in AZ and New Mexico on several work trips when I worked on his OCIP at Marsh & McLennan. He loved sharing stories of his family and I am honored to have known him. Thoughts and prayers for Gary's wife and kids. You are remarkable and may God continue to bless you.
Rex Jorgensen, Colleague
Sep 10 2021 6:20PM
Gary was a true friend to do many people in the Tempe Arizona community. When he left us on Sept 11th a huge hole was left God bless to his family Sonja Oonk Sons Russell and Richard Oonk
Sonja Oonk, Friend
Sep 5 2021 5:49PM
I knew Gary from the Phoenix office of Marsh. We were all so thrilled for Gary regarding his promotion. He was a fine man. And I always remember Gary on 9/11.
Janna Maxey, Colleague
Sep 13 2020 1:29PM
I was an Exec-U-Care employee in the Iowa City location for 28 years. My heart goes out to you and your family. I will never forget the deafening silence in the office that day. Rest assured, I will never forget. Ever on .....
Lori Tenold, Colleague
Sep 11 2020 11:48AM
In your memory, Gary. I was an employee in the Iowa City office location, a team called Exec-U-Care. I was with the company for 28 years and one month. I will never forget that day, the deep overwhelming silence. We may have been far away in Iowa City, but we were all united at that point. I'm sure you would have gone on to do great things for MMC. Ever on.....
Lori Tenold, Colleague
Sep 11 2019 1:41PM
I was an employer for 28 years and one month in the Iowa City Exec-U-Care department. Sending my thoughts and prayers on behalf of Gary today, and the countless others affected by this tragedy. Silence that fell in our department that day, hundreds of miles away, was deafening. We were a family, nonetheless. Ever on.....
Lori Tenold, Colleague
Sep 11 2018 3:37PM
Remembering Gary today. I was an employee of the Exec-U-Care department in Iowa City, IA from 1987 to 2015. I will never forget the silence in the office that day when we heard the news. I didn't know Gary, but have taken him under my memory wing, for what it's worth. Peace to all families that lost loved ones, and all those left with the memories and pain of that day. Ever on, Gary.
Lori Tenold, Colleague
Sep 11 2017 7:44AM
Remembering Gary on another somber anniversary. I was a MMC employee from 1987 to 2015 in the Iowa City, Iowa location, Exec-U-Care Department. I will never forget the day our team was informed that our New York colleagues were involved. I am sure he is remembered always by his family and friends, and for what it's worth, I am remembering him also. Ever on.
Lori Tenold, Colleague
Sep 9 2016 3:23PM
Remembering Gary, and all lives lost and those injured that horrible day. Thankful for the firefighters, police, and all the acts of bravery by countless others. Peace be to all, those lost, and those left behind. Ever on. Lori Tenold, former MMC colleague. (1987-2015)
Lori Tenold, Friend
Sep 10 2015 8:49PM
Remembering Gary in this month of September, 2014. Gone, but not forgotten. May your love be there to guide us May it always keep us strong May we walk within your footsteps As you lead us ever on Ever On- Dan Fogelberg
Lori Tenold, Colleague
Sep 12 2014 2:40PM
This tribute is for Gary. I did not know him, but just found out that his cousin is Jean Fogelberg. Jean and I are 'friends' now through Facebook. Modern technology that allows us to meet people we would have never met before. I didn't have the opportunity to know you, Gary, even with our company connection, but Jean speaks very highly of you. I told her I would leave this tribute for you. You are another angel now, for all of us, and a GOOD one, I can tell !! I am a colleague in the Iowa City location of Mercer. I am in the Exec-U-Care department, and have been with the company for 26 years. 9-11 changed everything, and I just want you and your family to know that we care, and we in Iowa city felt an immediate sadness and silence go over the office on that day. I remember it clear as a bell, because I just felt I had to call home and hear my Mom's voice. We all felt we had to connect with family that day. A day we will never forget. But you will be forever remembered. Ever on. 'Death is nothing at all-I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you always used. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Life means all that it ever meant. There is absolutely unbroken continuity...Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight ? I am waiting for you-for an interval-somewhere near, just around the corner. All is well. Henry Scott Holland
Lori Tenold, Colleague
Sep 12 2013 9:05AM
I put Gary's memorial card of his American flag in the Killing Fields at Tempe Beach 3 days before this year's 911 memorial service.I gave my thoughts(on KPHO-TV 5 and Mesa Tribune) about how I wished Gary be remembered as a loving husband ,father,as a civic minded leader and volunteer who made Tempe a better city after he left us to soon.I know Gary was assisting others before the terrorists searing flames took his life in the WTC on the 99th floor that terrible and fateful day.Gary was not only my friend but my teacher and mentor to help lead the Tempe Jaycees and Boys Club in the late 1970s and 80s.I miss you,my buddy. Jeff Eger,OD Mesa,Az
Dr. Jeff Eger, Friend
Sep 24 2012 4:10PM
My family and I attended Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Tempe this Sunday the 11th 2011 and during the mass we learned more about Gary Bird and he's wife and kids. He sounded like such an amazing Man,Father and husband and Soul. The father had mentioned he's wife wrote a book and I knew I wanted to read it. WOW! What a book. I feel like I know Gary and he's family and in reading what exactly made him an Amazing person. This Book has changed me and my husband forever it has allowed for me to feel deep in my Soul again and to always Love all things Thank you Gary Bird
Caroline Rodriguez, Friend
Sep 14 2011 2:47PM
I never knew Gary Bird, but heard his story when I attended Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Tempe on 9/10/11 while we were in Arizona on vacation. I was struck by his story, his life, and the way his wife has adapted to her terrible loss. I feel a strong connection to him and his family for no explainable reason. Gary and his family inspire me. I'm grateful to know of him. I put my relationship as friend because of this.
Pat Browne, Friend
Sep 13 2011 11:41PM
I was a Freshman in high school and Gary was a Senior so I knew who he was but didn't know him that well. He was on the football team and in the Honor Society. I do remember he had a great smile. I'm really sorry this happened and I pray that his family is doing well.
Sandee Mullane Wallace, Friend
Sep 11 2011 12:32PM
I am a better person because of Gary. I am a hopefully a better family man because of him. When Gary was a client he stretched me and what I thought I could do and be. On one of our skiing trips he took me a down my first Double Black Run at Purgatory in Colorado and told me it could be done. He expected a lot, but more from himself. We were colleagues only for days and I miss what could have been. But I will always remember what was and know that I am better because of him. I will never forget. God Bless you and your family! Jim McCluskey
Jim McCluskey, Colleague
Sep 8 2011 2:47AM
I adopted a soldier. Gary was my cousin and with 9 11 coming up again i checked this website. I'm glad after all these years that people still remember Gary. I realize that the soldier in irag that i adopted was only 13 years old when Gary died. God bless our troops, and the families that miss them everday.
Susan, Family
Aug 22 2011 11:29PM
Gary was an amazing person. I was his IT person at Phelps Dodge for many years. He was always patient and his passwords always had something to do with his family. We used to hang out in New York together occasionally and he always had something to say that was so well thought out and always kind to others. When he was in the office here in Phoenix, he would listen to what we used to joke about as 'hold music' or 'elevator music'. One of the last things we talked about was his love of horses but he was also a very God fearing man. He said his horses reminded him that he must be in awe of God's creatures in order to tame them. He always was God-like in his kindness and understanding of others. I miss you Gary. You taught me to look at the importance of family and the things you have in life. Bobby Lachance-3/7/2011
Bobby Lachance, Colleague
Mar 7 2011 3:42PM
Dear Donna, Amanda and Andrew, We will always hold dear the memory of the Seton Catholic football game held in Sahuarita, Arizona, just south of Tucson. The game was played on one of the early anniversaries of 9/11. Te sky was amazing, setting in a symphony of colors as Andrew and our son Brian walked hand in hand to greet the four captains of the opposing home team. Andrew had been chosen team captain that day and he and Bri- Bri, two young warriors met the opposing 4 captains for the coin toss and final instructions from the referees. Yes they were outnumbered and undersized playing against a heavily favored Sahuraita home team. Every person on Seton's team and every fan that made the journey for the game knew what today was and wondered what young Andrew Bird had been going through emotionally all week. From the kick off Andrew and his teammates took control, a sack by Andrew, a fumble recovery, an interception. The parents cheering on from the stands kept looking up to the sky almost wondering if Gary himself was right there watching his beautiful son play the game of his life. Call it a presence, call it a Blessing or call it a proud dad watching his son from the best seat in the house. Seton won 56 to something, the score didn't matter. After the game the players and coaches knelt down on the field up next to the grandstands where all the fans we kneeling too. We all listened to the coach as he and Andrew's team mates dedicated the victory to Andrew and his outstanding performance. All the fans, parents, coaches and players knelt and prayed with tears streaming down our faces. Andrew spoke of his love for his father and his gratitude for his mom, sister and team mates and then he dedicated his and his team’s performance to his father. We've never seen a team play as well as Seton played that day nor have we ever seen a more stirring remembrance to Gary and all of the 9/11 victims than the tribute that was played out that night. A group of young men rose above themselves and honored their friend Andrew, the memory of his father Gary and brought honor upon themselves and Seton Catholic High School Football. The stadium was empty, the teams loaded on busses, the janitors had swept away the last of the remnants from the rowdy football crowd and sitting there in the bleachers was the shadow of a man, a proud father, replaying the moments of joy and pride he had witnessed that night when his young son Andrew became a man. With much love to you all, Terry, Donna, Brian and Devin Murphy
terry, donna
Nov 16 2009 2:03PM
Gary was my friend,mentor,and teacher.He tried very hard to teach me diplomacy and patience.He kidded me I was pig-headed and I proved it to him riding a pig into the Tempe Jaycee meeting to kick off a pre membership drive.The theme was ,a wild and crazy year.Gary let me have it after this made front page of our town paper and I promised him I would never do it again I would follow his teachings, to the letter, to become a respected president of our organization.Gary you were the best teacher and role model an inexperienced leader could want.I know you were helping others in the WTC Towers while you silently said goodbye and I love you to Donna,Amanda,and Andrew.I would like to think there is a reason for good men like you to be taken from us before our time.You know I always believed in destiny.Remember the saying ,looking down from us in heaven,the good die young.Don't be mad at me ,but I showed the pig picture to Amanda and Andrew,just after your memorial service at St Tims.They all had a great laugh and it lightened the moment.You should be proud how Donna and your children are growing in spite of their loss.You are missed.
Dr. Jeff Eger, Friend
Sep 11 2009 8:07PM
Your family has been in our thoughts and prayers on this day as well as others. As their were so many heros, he was definitely one of them. God Bless! The Clodfelters Michael, Lisa, Kayli, and Brooke Lynda McGinley's sister
Lisa Clodfelter, Friend
Sep 11 2009 10:59AM
Gary was a member of the Mohave County Union High School Senior Class of 1968, in Kingman, AZ. We are having our 40th class reunion next weekend and we will be remembering Gary and the other 17 members of our senior class who are no longer with us. Gary always had a smile for everyone, and from what I've read on the various tributes to him, it carried through in everything he did. My thoughts and prayers were with him, his family, friends and colleagues today as I saw his name come across the TV screen this morning, while watching the national memorial tribute. Jan Ripper-Morehead
Jan Ripper Morehead, Friend
Sep 12 2008 12:08AM
I Myself Have only met gary once but,My mother Diane Bird and Grandmother, Joan Bird had told me stories of how close my mother and Gary were. my mother sobs from time to time about Gary, but always told me he was an Honest & Responsible man. I will always remember around Christmas time Gary,Donna,Andrew,& Amanda would send Myself and my family a Christmas card with a Gift card for Barnes & Nobles. Thank you for the Christmas memories Gary and Family you will always be remembered Love your Nephew Robert R. Mcgrail
Robert R Mcgrail, Family
Nov 30 2006 3:10PM
I first met Gary when he was about 7 years old and living on a ranch in Camp Verde. I had gone to the ranch to ride horses with his older sister. Gary rode up on his horse and started showing off as young boys are wont to do. He climbed all over that horse like a squirrel. Going upside down along each leg, crawling under the belly of the horse, on the neck, on the head, on the rump. It was amazing. Years later I had the pleasure of sharing Gary's friendship in the Tempe Jaycees; he was the best President the club ever had. I miss that guy.
Randall Ramsey, Friend
Oct 25 2006 4:42PM
When you laugh, argue, and think together for almost three years, you get to know a person. Gary was the smartest, gritty, and softhearted person I've known. He was truely a cowboy. I miss him every day. Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I still catch a glimps of him with his shiny head - lots of jokes about that one. He was my friend and colleague. He loved his family and his horses. He talked about his children and wife all the time. He has left a legacy of a good family.
Karen Mildenhall, Friend
Sep 11 2006 11:27PM
Gary: Was a great friend and I miss him deeply. I remember going on trail rides in the Dragon Mtns. in southeast Arizona with Gary and the underwriters who were lucky enough to be on his placements for Phelps Dodge. He was in his element on a horse in those mountains. Thats where he will always be for me. Gos bless him and his family. Love Mike and Debbie Goss
Michael L Goss, Colleague
Sep 11 2006 10:30AM
Donna, I don't know if you remember me, but I was secretary to Frank Roan during the work you did putting together the book 'You're New Lawyer.' Well, Frank and I married. A couple of years ago Kathryn Marshall came to visit us and told us of the death of your husband in one of the towers. We were shocked and didn't know what to say. Frank said he was going to send you a card. I hope he did. I'm so sorry we didn't send you our sympathy sooner, but it seems so inadequate, even now. We cannot imagine what you went through and what you are going through now. I hope and pray it has eased somewhat with time. If you ever want to get in touch with Frank or me our email is or call us at 941-924-0478. We are so sorry you and your children had to go through this. I'm also sorry I didn't get to meet such a decent man. Our prayers are with you and your children. Carrie Roan
Carrie Roan, Colleague
Sep 10 2006 12:50AM
Although I didn't know him, my dad, Kevin did so I miss him too. He was probably amazing though. I luv him. :*(
Flaherty, Family
May 31 2006 3:39PM
Gary was an awesome man. He wasn't only my best friend's dad, but practically my dad as well. I love him so much :)
Kristi Holcomb, Family
Dec 22 2003 1:47AM
He was the greatest dad any kid could ask for. He always loved us and I know he still does and he was always there when I needed him. I'm sure anyone who met him loved him. He was the most hard-working man I've ever known and he still lives in our lives even today. =)
Andrew Bird, Family
Nov 4 2003 10:59PM
Gary and I were corporate peers for six years; years before I moved to San Francisco and he made that fateful trip to New York. At Phelps Dodge in Phoenix he was Director of Risk Management; I was Director, Health and Safety. If you know our professions, you will know that we worked together closely. What I want people to know about Gary is that he was a gentle soul in corporate America. I have met a lot of nice and not so nice people in the corporate world, but he is the only guy at that level that I cannot remember him ever having said a bad word about anybody. In a corporate world where backstabbers can sometimes seem to be the norm, Gary wouldn't hurt a fly.
Kyle B Dotson, Colleague
Aug 19 2003 9:40PM