Twenty years after the tragic terror attacks on September 11, 2001, we pause to reflect and remember those we lost and the heroes who stepped up in the face of insurmountable challenges.
Using material collected from articles, obituaries, books, social media, recollections, and other sources, the Fraternity has assembled profiles of the ten (currently known) Theta Chi brothers who were affected and involved that horrible day.
In each case, the facts are reported as best as is currently known and available.
We present the following profile with all due respect, sympathy, and care.
J. Nicholas Humber (Delta/RPI 1963)June 26, 1941 – September 11, 2001
Born in Ludlow, MA, Nicholas Humber resided in Newton, MA. He served as President of Brae Burn Management and was an executive of Enron Wind Corp when he boarded American Airlines Flight 11.
Curtiss (Delta/RPI 1957) and Cindy Beach shared, “We were shocked to learn that you were on that plane. We remember you fondly from the days of Theta Chi on Burdett Ave at RPI in Troy. You were so much fun and great with our first child MJ. We are saddened by the unnecessary loss on that horrible day. You have left us with many memories of long ago that were full of fun. Our blessings to Jeff, Judy and the rest of the loved ones you had to leave behind. May God hold you in his arms and give you lasting peace. Goodbye Theta Chi Brother.”
A bio of Nick reads as follows:
Nicholas Humber (1941-2001) President, Brae Burn Management, was an active member of the EBC. He served as the chair of the EBC’s Innovative Technology Committee from 1997 to 2000; and prior to that chaired the International Business Committee. It was a tragic loss to the EBC, Nick’s family and friends when it was learned that he was a passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the World Trade Center Sept. 11. Nick earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer and received a master’s degree from the Wharton Graduate School at the University of Pennsylvania. He worked tirelessly for the environment beginning in 1971 when he joined the newly created US EPA and co-founded the national waste-to-energy and recycling programs. As an adviser to the World Bank, a founder of Energia Global, and past president of BioMed of Boston, Nick’s life and career was committed to improving the quality of the environment for current and future generations.
From the December 2001 edition of Rensselaer magazine:
IN MEMORIAM: NICHOLAS HUMBER '63
Nicholas Humber '63, of Newton, Mass., an executive of Enron Wind Corporation, was a passenger aboard American Airline Flight 11, which crashed into the World Trade Center Sept. 11. Humber earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer and received a master’s degree from the Wharton Graduate School at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the EPA when it was founded in 1971. Humber was an adviser to the World Bank, a founder of Energia Global, and past president of BioMed of Boston.
A former football and lacrosse player, Humber also was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity at Rensselaer. Several brothers, including Rich Bollam (1966), Terry Jones (1966), and Tex French (1983), attended a memorial service for Humber in September.
The brothers of Theta Chi are encouraging contributions in Humber's memory to the Delta Chapter Theta Chi Fraternity Scholarship, which is administered by Rensselaer and used to support financially needy member of the fraternity. If you are interested in learning more, contact Lynn Hopwood at email@example.com or (518) 276-8545.
The following profile published in The Boston Globe on September 17, 2001:
Nicholas Humber; Environmental expert
Nicholas Humber of Newton, an executive of Enron Wind Corp., was killed Tuesday in the crash of American Airlines Flight 11 in New York. He was 60. Born in Ludlow, Mr. Humber graduated from Ludlow High School and received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Rochester, N.Y., where he was an accomplished football and lacrosse player. He received a master's degree from the Wharton Graduate School at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Humber joined the EPA when it was founded in 1971 and worked in the waste division. He was an adviser to the World Bank and evaluated many projects for fuel-cell technology. He was a founder of Energia Global, which is focused on Latin America, as well as past president of BioMed of Boston. Most recently, he directed commercial sales for Enron Wind Corp. of California. He was a member of many organizations, including the Norfolk Prison Fellowship Outreach Program. He leaves his son, Jordan of Newton; a sister, Judy of San Anselmo, Calif.; and a brother, Jeff of Washington, D.C. A memorial service will be held tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the United Parish in Auburndale.
Brother Humber’s name may be found at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City on the North Pool: Panel N-1.
The following article appeared in the Fall 2003 edition of The Delta Dial:
On June 15, 2003, as part of their 40th Reunion Weekend at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, members of the Delta Chapter class of 1963 dedicated a plaque to one of their classmates, J. Nicholas Humber. Nick had the tragic bad luck to be a passenger on one of the planes that terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. (In addition to this memorial plaque, over 20 Delta Chapter alumni from the classes of 1960-1966 have contributed more than $11,000 in Nick’s memory to the Delta Chapter Theta Chi Fraternity Scholarship Fund.)
The dedication ceremony was held at the chapter house immediately following the annual meeting of Delta Chapter’s alumni corporation and, in addition to some of Nick’s classmates, was also attended by the alumni corporation’s board members and advisors and several undergraduate brothers. The principal speaker was Bill Still (Delta/RPI 1963), who had been a close friend and roommate of Nick during his undergraduate years, and had remained a very close friend throughout all the years that followed. Additional attendees from the class of 1963 included Ev Molony and Fred Boehm.
Following the ceremony, the plaque was mounted on a wall in the chapter house dining room. The plaque reads as follows:
This plaque is presented in memory of J. Nicholas Humber, class of 1963, who lost his life during the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Nick was an active and enthusiastic brother during his undergraduate years and an active and supportive alumnus during the years thereafter. We all remember him fondly. Dedicated on June 15, 2003 by Nick’s Theta Chi classmates at RPI on the occasi0n of their 40th reunion.
In addition, an award was established in Nick’s name by the Environmental Business Council of New England, Inc. The EBC Nicholas Humber Environmental-Energy Award for Outstanding Collaboration, established by resolution of the Board of Directors on March 4, 2002, recognizes an environmentally-related endeavor which is a joint or shared project between an EBC member and another person or entity and which reflects the global environmental values and human spirit exemplified by Nicholas Humber.
Brian O’Neill’s October 25, 2001 article for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette discussed Nick’s legacy in Somerset County – mere miles southwest of the crash site of United Flight 93. Here is an excerpt:
SOMERSET, Pa. -- "These are really monuments of a sort," Jeff Humber said as we stood yesterday with hundreds of others on a windy mountaintop in Somerset County.
Humber was referring to six 200-foot windmills strung along the ridge that would soon wring electricity from the air. Politicians and corporate types and nearby farmers all came to celebrate the opening of this, Pennsylvania's third wind farm…
Humber came for his older brother, Nick. Nicholas Humber orchestrated this particular deal for Enron Wind Corp., which built the wind turbines, but he did not live to see the mills turn. A memorial to him somewhere off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, in view of the site, will read:
"In memory of Nicholas Humber of Enron Wind, a kind humanitarian who cared deeply about our Earth and all people, and made critical contributions to the planning and completion of the wind power projects at Somerset and Mill Run, before tragically losing his life on September 11, 2001, on American Airlines Flight 11."
His was the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center. Humber, 60, was traveling to Los Angeles from his Boston home for a business meeting. He'd spent nearly all his adult life working on environmental issues, so the tribute is perfect.
"This is real," said his brother, who had flown up from Washington, D.C. "These are real turbines generating real energy for real people. At least he has something beautiful and it is doing something good for the environment."
Is it irony or coincidence that Humber's legacy stands just a few miles southwest of Shanksville, where United Flight 93 crashed? Humber's colleagues, who remember him as a mellow and generous guy, have grappled with that question and others like it…
Six more turbines began spinning yesterday. The Public Utility Commission predicts that as many as 66,500 households will be grabbing their power from the air within three years. Some of that is due to a man from Boston who left his legacy on the wind.
For additional tributes and information on Brother Humber, please visit his page on the 911 Living Memorial.