Eamon McEneaney ’77, an integral member of the Cornell men’s lacrosse dynasty of the mid-’70s, perished in the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center last week, the University reported yesterday. McEneaney is one of the first alumni confirmed deceased after the tragic events.
Considered by many to be one of lacrosse’s all-time greats, he was working for the brokerage firm, Cantor Fitzgerald, on one of the top floors of the North Tower, which was the first of the pair to suffer damage.
Richie Moran, who was McEneaney’s coach at Cornell, suspected the worst when the events of last Tuesday began to unfold.
“I knew he was on floor 104 or 105,” he said. “When the first plane hit, I knew it was difficult to go up and difficult to go down.
“Eamon was a remarkable individual, both as an undergraduate and in the real world,” Moran continued.
Cantor Fitzgerald was among the hardest hit tenants in the World Trade Center. Of 700 employees thought to have been at work last Tuesday morning, it is feared that none of Cantor Fitzgerald’s staff survived.
As an attackman for the Red in the ’70s, McEneaney amassed a reputation as one of the country’s leading scorers, earning first-team All-American honors in 1975, ’76 and ’77. In 1977, when he recorded a whopping 25 points in the NCAA Tournament to lead Cornell to a successful defense of its national title, he also was crowned the most outstanding collegiate player. McEneaney was a member America’s World Lacrosse Championship team in 1978, and four years later he was named to the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame.
To round out his string of accolades, McEneaney was inducted to the national Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1993.
In addition to his legacy in lacrosse, McEneaney was also a standout for the Cornell football team as an All-Ivy wide receiver in 1976.
“He was an unbelievable player,” Moran said.
But for all his feats as an athlete, McEneaney’s true attributes shone brightest off the field.
Moran found that out when he was walking with McEneaney down the streets of Manhattan earlier this year. After a homeless man had approached them, Moran asked if McEneaney had run into him before. McEneaney replied that, though he wouldn’t distribute free handouts to the man, he had been taking him out to lunch every Thursday or Friday for a while.
“He touched a lot of souls,” Moran said.
During the World Trade Center bombings in 1993, McEneaney also proved a hero to 65 people whom he guided down the stairs to safety by forming a human chain system. At each floor, he would make sure to conduct a headcount so that no one would be left behind.
“He wouldn’t let them give up,” Moran reflected. “If people had to be saved, he would be the type of guy to do it.
“He talked about how much he loved the people he worked with.”
Jeff Tambroni, the current head coach of the men’s lacrosse team, met McEneaney prior to last spring’s game against Penn.
“One thing I’ve taken away from him is that he had such a passion to be successful,” Tambroni said.
As fate would have it, this past May brought together McEneaney, Moran and the rest of the 1976 Cornell national championship team together for a 25th anniversary reunion. There, unknowing at the time, the team that owned collegiate lacrosse in the mid-’70s had a final opportunity to salute its star.
“It was sort of a godsend that we were all able to get together,” Moran said.
McEneaney is survived by his wife, Bonnie, and their four children.
A memorial in his honor will be held this Friday at the First Presbyterian Church in New Canaan, Conn.
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj