Lars Qualben

The abandoned lots were originally strewn with rusty cars, decrepit refrigerators and rubble. But over the years, the land became a secret garden, a tree-lined oasis with winding brick paths in the middle of Brooklyn.

With his free weekends and evenings, Lars Qualben slowly nurtured frail foot-high seedlings in Carroll Gardens into a backyard of sturdy giving trees for his family.

When his two sons could barely walk, Mr. Qualben hung swings from the branches of the mulberry tree so they could fly through the air. Once the boys could scamper, he pruned the branches so they could climb up and build their own treehouse. His sons, now 15 and 14, have graduated from middle school. The family celebrated with a party under the tree canopy.

Even dead tree trunks were made into garden benches.

Mr. Qualben’s trees now display a radiant fall palate of reds and yellows. The garden offered Mr. Qualben, 49, a senior vice president at Marsh & McLennan, some solace for urban living. It now offers his family some solace for their pain. 'We feel him in our lives by being there and looking at it,' said Martha Qualben, his wife. 'It’s a place where he is a living presence.'

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Lars was our cousin. When we got engaged, we came to NYC and spent the night with Martha and Lars, so that we could pick our rings out in the Diamond district the next day. We remember the beautiful backyard that Lars had just transformed… the trees were still young and as Lars showed us around, he was so proud (as he should have been)! How wonderful to know that the garden he started for his family has flourished and is now a place of comfort for his family!
Stephen and Susan Anglen, Family
Sep 11 2023 10:46AM
I will always miss the gang of brothers at Marsh, especially Lars who believed in me. He spoke to me on Friday on the phone and passed on the following Tuesday. He will always remain in my heart. Leo
Leo Canale, Colleague
Apr 17 2021 3:39PM
9/11/2020 marks 19 years. Lars you are in my memories evermore. I will never forget. God Bless you Lars.
Phil Arnesen, Family
Sep 11 2020 4:04PM
What a wonderful tribute Lars was making with those trees, I never knew he was doing this. Becki
Rebecca Shafer, Colleague
Sep 8 2019 0:50AM
Lars was simply one of the smartest, funnest, best guys I ever met in 1969 at St Olaf College where we were sophmore dorm-corridor mates. We probably fell in together as I was also born in Brooklyn. Brutal Risk games, chess, bowling, cafeteria mealtimes and sweating organic chemistry finals...those were probably the best four years of my life. Later visits to the 'big apple' in my '60 Chevy or my eighteen-wheeler always included tours of the rooftops of Manhattan's skyscrapers incl. the World Trade Center! We locked up the 'classic' Chevy in his private reclaimed fiefdom-park behind his brownstone in Brooklyn after he deemed it too dangerous to leave on the 'mean streets'. His two ferocious hounds: Mollygushnik and Robespierre, must have loved those whitewalls! Oddly, he was the safety officer on his floor on 9/11 even as I was in my high-rise 30 floor government office building in San Francisco that morning; I gave the order to evacuate my own building that horrendous morning. Two of my relatives were in tower two, but survived. Jason Dahl was the captain of the aircraft flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11. Sixteen years later, I still do security stemming from 9/11. The local monument from parts of Tower One bears Lar's name in my current California town's downtown park. Thus, the man is never far from my thoughts and there is no distance in time.
P.V. Dahl, Friend
Jul 25 2017 3:56PM
I met Lars in 1994. He was teaching a math course for the ASP exam. I remember thinking of what a nice man he was to take his own time to do this. Bobby Athey informed me of his passing the week after 09/11. He will always remain an example to me of what Safety professionals should be. God Bless and Keep You.
Stuart Howser, Colleague
May 30 2013 6:40PM
Lars, you are in my memory today while I am deployed in Kuwait and you will soon not be forgotten.
1LT Chad H. Arnesen, Family
Sep 11 2011 3:35AM
I worked with Lars in Marsh Risk Consulting (MRC) at the WTC in 2000 and 2001. He was a senior member of NY MRC, very well known in the loss control world and very active in various loss control/safety professional organizations. I remember that Lars was extremely smart and very sharp. He knew what needed to be done and would always push me as a junior member to do my best. During my first months at Marsh, I recall one incident when a presentation needed to be performed for a client in mid-town and the assigned Marsh consultant could not make it. Lars asked me to step in and I had about 2 hours to prepare. He told me that, as the newest consultant, I was going to be initiated that day. I think he really enjoyed watching me sweat! Well, it all went well and Lars really appreciated that I had stepped up. When I came back to the office, he gathered everybody in the office around and said, 'look at this guy, isn't he a handsome man, look at him everybody!' I was very flattered, but never quite sure if he was joking. Following that, he went out of his way to assist me. He took a real interest in my development and helped me attain my Certified Safety Professional (CSP) designation. Lars, I will always treasure my time with you and appreciate all that you did for me. Rest in peace Lars!
Mike DuBose, Colleague
Feb 24 2011 6:35PM
Thinking about you and your family today Lars. Just wanted to let you know I will be bringing your memory with me overseas this upcoming spring as I deploy with the US Army National Guard.
1LT Chad H. Arnesen, Family
Sep 11 2010 9:03PM
Lars, still miss you. You were such a wonderful person (as all your family is). Hope you've met up with Caryl and Phil and are still singing in your wonderful voice. Would love to meet your family and see the garden you created. Someone from work just asked about you today. We'll never forget you.
Conchi Alarcon, Friend
Jun 10 2009 10:09AM
Never forgoten an always loved Lars.
Phil Arnesen, Family
Feb 28 2009 3:13AM
Lars - I just signed the beam from the World Trade Center and thought of you. God Bless you and your family. Cathy
Cathy Jones, Colleague
Sep 10 2008 3:15PM
Never got to officially meet you Lars, even though we're family. I had the honor to meet your family though after you had passed. Rest in Peace and blessings from the Arnesen's in Minnesota.
Chad H. Arnesen, Family
Feb 21 2007 3:18AM
I am thiking of you today Lars. May your family and friends feel a wonderful memory of you at this time.
Phillip B. Arnesen, Family
Sep 11 2006 7:34PM
I am thinking of you today, Lars. Bless you.
Michael C. Sensiba, Colleague
Sep 11 2006 1:50PM
I'll never forget Lars' passion for skiing. One day he told me how he felt he should try to get better, so he went out with an instructor. At the end of several mogul'ed double diamonds, the twenty-five year old instructor pulled up and said, in grudging admiration of the 'old' guy, 'you seem to have it all together.' I am sure Lars would have skiied into his 80s. I wish his boys the joy of life and good spirits (but maybe not the bow tie!) that Lars always had and gave to all of us.
Edward Haas, Colleague
Sep 10 2006 5:01PM
How often I think of him. Even our grandfathers were friends. From canoe trips on the Delaware River as 7th or 8th graders, sneaking off to smoke cornsilk from some farmer's field, backpacking in the Catskills, and working together as HS juniors, we became friends. In college, we continued that friendship.. I always smile when I think of his antics trying to set multiple alarm clocks so as not to miss his 7:45am class. Thanks, Lars.. you are missed.
Tim Sheie, Friend
Aug 17 2006 11:21PM
I last enjoyed Lars' company at the Wigwam resort in Arizona in 1995. We enjoyed a dinner and a fine remberance of times past in our youth as cousins. Lars' mother is my fathers sister.....We had a close family but the miles made our lives become seperate. I have had some distances in my life and I recently learned through my father that my cousin Lars was a victim in the 911 attacks. My heart felt a sinking effect. The lack of communication I have experienced in my personal relationships in my family and friends let a hoffific event pass without me being to extend my condolances and sympathies to my family and with that I have a great deal of regret. I extend my sadness albeit 3 plus years later to my cousin Jonathan, my Aunt Ruth and of course Lars' wife Martha and his children.
Phillip B. Arnesen, Family
Dec 19 2004 9:02PM
Lars, though we never met, you were a great counselor on the telephone on several occasions, and we discovered that we shared a Minnesota connection - yours having left, mine having arrived. Your telephone style was friendly, professional, competent, valuable. When I think of the tragedy of 9-11, which I do often, your name is one of those I know, and that makes it all the more grievous to me. Rest in peace, friend.
P.A.F. Burck, Colleague
Nov 20 2003 6:58PM
I met Lars through Toastmasters, he was an excellent speaker. Lars was one of the founding fathers of Marsh & McLennan's Toastmasters club. Lars was unable to make the Toastmasters meetings when he moved to the WTC. He thought that he might start another club there, I don't think that came to be. I new Lars through Toastmasters only and did not have the pleasure of working with him. I enjoyed his speeches. We miss him. God bless your family, Lars. Ronnie
Ronnie Thyben, Colleague
Sep 10 2003 2:53PM
Although I didn't know him very well, he was very kind and I loved him very much.
Rachel Reue, Family
Apr 11 2003 12:29PM
I discovered some very old personal papers and came across some drawings that I made in PS 259, McKinley Junior High School. I remembered a set of cartoons I had drawn in tandem with a friend. During class, we would pass a piece of paper back and forth, each one adding another frame to our 'story,' mostly concerning our kids-eye satirical view of the school and our teachers. I bonded with my classmate because we were both cartoonists, although I thought his work was more sophisticated then mine. We'd hung out together and I clearly remember him telling me about his grandmother, who had lived in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn when it was farmland. I lost track of my friend after I went off to Stuyvesant High School. From time to time, as the years went on, I thought of some of my classmates from the old days, including my old cartooning buddy. And when I ran across those old papers a few hours ago, I recalled my friend and decided to look him up on the Web. I entered in 'Lars Qualben' and came across this website. The right age, and it said that he was in the World Trade Center on 9/11. I figured it couldn't be him. And then I saw a photo of a smiling man. He's clearly an adult version of the kid I knew years ago. And now it's slowly sinking in that when I was up in a skyscraper in midtown Manhattan on 9/11 and watching unbelieving as the two World Trade Center towers collapsed right before my eyes, that I was seeing my childhood friend for the last time. So I decided to write these few thoughts before I log off and think about what I just read. George Zarr
George Zarr, Friend
Nov 11 2002 7:16PM
Lars and I go back 12 years. He had a winning smile and would drop what he was doing to give his assistance. Because he was a long-time Marsh employee he knew a lot. He would help with any computer program that I was trying to conquer. He was very proud of his children and I loved when a group from the office went to see them in The Nutcracker. Lars loved Martie and Kai and Paul. I miss him and all my friends who perished. Terry I miss him and all my friends who were at WTC on 9/11.
Terry Terenzi, Colleague
Sep 11 2002 2:53PM
Dear Martha, boys and colleagues. I graduated from St. Olaf College with Lars and called him on business trips to NYC over the years. I particularly remember how proud he was of his boys performing in the Nutcracker and being Pres of the same Lutheran church where he grew up. I'm a PK (preacher's kid) and also have two boys. My 13 year old is also named Lars and regularly performs on stage. 16 year old Hans is trying to earn an appointment to the Air Force Academy and, on his own as a student body officer, went to school today at 7am to make sure the school sign read 'We will never forget'. Lars Qualben is often discussed in our home as a beautiful soul now at peace in Heaven. His heroic reminder not to take freedom for granted and to love each other every day will never be forgotten. As painful as this anniversary must be to his family and friends at MMC and elsewhere, I feel confident that he wants us to go forward, not in fear, but appreciating the many positive expressions of love and bonding daily support for each other. Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts. Rolf
Rolf M Foster-Jorgensen, Friend
Sep 11 2002 12:35PM