Conn remembers James A. Greenleaf Jr. ’91 on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001
Sept. 11, 2021 marks 20 years since the terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda killed 2,977 people. It also marks 30 years since James “Jim” A. Greenleaf Jr. ’91 graduated from Conn. Greenleaf, a foreign currency trader at the World Trade Center, died in the attacks on the Twin Towers.
To honor Greenleaf, and the legacy he left behind, Conn created the Jim Greenleaf ’91 Memorial Award beginning with the 2002 academic year.
“The Jim Greenleaf ’91 Memorial Award is given to two individuals—one male and one female—to honor their contributions to the club sports program at the College. The award is named for James "Jim" A. Greenleaf Jr. ’91, captain of the men’s rugby club and a friend and pillar of support to all, whose life was tragically ended on September 11, 2001, in New York’s Twin Towers. Jim was respected by all for his commitment, leadership, sportsmanship, and overall excellence both at college and in his career as a financier. Winners are chosen based on their demonstration of these same qualities. We hope the recipients of this award further his memory and enhance the prestige of the College with their continued excellence.”
The Conn award was established by two of Greenleaf’s rugby teammates, Adam Gimbel ’91 and Anton Malko ’91, and other classmates.
Malko remembered Greenleaf on the rugby field as “always the first one to the ball; he just had an amazing motor.
“Jim was a guy who led from the front. It was evident then, and even more looking back on it now, that he was a person who was known by his deeds,” Malko added.
“This was a captain on the team. He was an amazing example to follow and when we thought after he died of what impact he made on a lot of people, we really thought it was cool to imagine recognizing athletes who compete for their school outside of intercollegiate athletics. These are authentic experiences that we appreciate every year when we see a male and female student be recognized.
“We appreciate the fact that there’s a lot of young men and women who do an amazing job, and that we can all be on the same page on what Jim represented, which is being there for each other and being accountable.”
Gimbel echoes these sentiments, and knew that after the Sept. 11 attacks, he needed to do something positive for his friend.
“Jim was smart, motivated, athletic and fun; that’s sort of a formidable mix. It bothered me that Jim could have done so much, but because of the attacks on 9/11, he didn’t get the chance. He was deprived of his life because he chose to go to work.
“Our community had a tremendous national and personal tragedy and the world changed in a bad way. Those things came together in what happened to my good friend. So I decided, ‘Well, I’d like to do something,’ and some of my friends felt the same way, which led to the plaque and tree on South Campus, as well as the annual award for the best male and female club athlete,” Gimbel recalled.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards were not given in 2020. In winning the awards, the two recent recipients described how their club sports experience at Conn helped them grow.
Brie Duseau ’19, who was president of women’s club soccer, said “It was rewarding to watch all the hundreds of little ways” that club soccer “could brighten someone’s day, create new friendships and connections, or be that little thing someone looked forward to at the end of their day.”
Conor Xanders ’20, who was president of the men’s Ultimate Frisbee club, said his time with the team “helped me find my voice as a leader, but it also showed me how much the people you surround yourself with can teach you and help you grow as an individual.”
In addition to the award, Conn created the 9/11 Garden located off Tempel Green with the help of a gift from the Class of 1997 and the Class of 2003. It was designed by Conn students, faculty and staff, and planted in 2003.
Greenleaf, a native of Waterford, Connecticut, had a tremendous influence on numerous lives. The surviving members of his family created a scholarship fund in his name to provide financial assistance to students attending St. Bernards High School, as well as graduating seniors from Waterford High School, Fitch High School and New London High School, toward their college tuition.
“From the family he cherished to the friends that admired and respected him, his life serves as an inspiration to others,” the foundation said.