9/11 anniversary

South Florida Woman Turns Loss at 9/11 Into a Way to Help Keep People on Their Feet

As years have passed, Lisa Friedman Clark cherishes the memories she's had with her husband, Andy, who died in the 9/11 attacks

NBC Universal, Inc.

Two decades have gone by for a South Florida woman, but it's like the final conversation she had with her husband on 9/11 just happened.

Lisa Friedman Clark got a call from Andy Friedman that morning from the North Tower and then watched helplessly on television.

“I knew he couldn’t get down, and I knew it was really, really bad,” Lisa said.

At 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, a commercial jet crashed into the North Tower at the World Trade Center. Inside on the 92nd floor was stock expert Andy Friedman. He had only been on the job for two weeks.

“I was a little concerned about taking a job on the 92nd floor, but, you know, as Andy would always say, 'Who thinks like you?' I was worried and I was obviously right," Lisa told NBC 6.

At 9:03 a.m., a plane hit the South Tower.

“I don’t even know what to say. I was in shock," Lisa recalled.

9:16 a.m.: The fires were getting worse. Andy’s trapped on his floor, but phone records show he was able to get a call through to Lisa.  

“So, you looked at both buildings. I didn’t know what to tell him,” she said, describing the last conversation she had with Andy. “I was in shock. I didn’t say anything. I just said I love you. What Andy said to me is that we are all in a room and we have plenty of air, and in the background, I could hear women crying and I hear people coughing.” 

At 10:28 a.m., Lisa saw Andy’s building collapse on television.

“I watched it. I saw the building come down on TV and, you know, I knew what my reality was then,” she said. 

The couple’s twin boys held out hope. It’s a dream their mother didn't want to dash. The then-11-year-olds produce a missing persons flyer — one distinguishing characteristic is Andy’s height. It’s something that brought Lisa and Andy together 14 years earlier.  

“Andy was a gentle giant. He was 6-foot-5. I’m 6-foot-1. That’s actually how we met. Our eyes kind of lock in a bar one day,” Lisa said with a laugh. 

Lisa Friedman Clark reflects 20 years after her husband died on 9/11.

Lisa now lives in Boca Raton. As years have passed, she cherishes the memories — their wedding after she survived cancer, and the times with Andy and the growth of their sons Dan and Mike.

“Dan always says the greatest compliment he gets is that people say, you remind me of your dad because Andy was just a big presence and a very kind person and what my children have gone on to do,” she said. “I have a wonderful husband who accepts me and Andy because Andy is always by my side. Just because you are a widow doesn’t mean that person’s gone. The reason I am the person who I am is because Andy was here.”

Lisa and her sons started handing out socks to workers in the days after 9/11 as their feet were always wet.  Now, the family has a sock company that helps fund charities aiding families grieving.

“They go to other communities facing traumatic loss, including in Florida — it would be Orlando, Parkland to help children that are having similar types of problems,” she said. Tuesday’s Children and the FealGood Foundation are two of the charities they aid.

Lisa sent a message to those losing loved ones at Surfside.

“The best advice I can tell people and I always say you should always turn 'me' into 'we.' To the extent that you can focus your energy out and help other people, it will make the grieving process much easier,” Lisa said. 

Lisa doesn’t have plans to attend the official 9/11 ceremonies on Saturday. She and her family want to honor Andy by going to the places and doing the things he loved.

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