Sad Little Neck parents mourn for son lost Sept. 11

By Kathianne Boniello

Christopher Racaniello had plans.

The Little Neck native, a five-year employee of Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center, was supposed to marry his longtime sweetheart Lisa Greco Nov. 24.

The wedding invitations were put in the mail Sept. 7, his mother, Sandra Racaniello, said, and were probably starting to arrive in people’s mailboxes on the morning of Sept. 11.

That day Christopher, like so many others, had gone to work on the 101st Floor of Tower 1.

It did not take long before history stole Christopher Racaniello’s plans and life as two hijacked commercial airliners plowed into the Twin Towers, causing them to crumble and trapping thousands of people beneath tons of debris.

The Racaniello family, longtime Little Neck residents, held a memorial service for their 30-year-old son at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston Sunday. More than 500 people came, Sandra Racaniello said, almost all of them with stories about Christopher.

Those at the memorial service described Christopher as “a very giving person” who always cared about his friends and their families, his mother said.

Frank Racaniello said his son loved to buy toys for the children in his life, especially his two young nephews.

“Sometimes we wondered whether the toys were for him or the kids,” he said with a smile. His son was so generous, he said, that “he had the tastes of a millionaire and the pocketbook of a pauper.”

Christopher Racaniello was a person who loved a party and having a good time, his parents said. Christopher loved chocolate cake so much, the Racaniellos served it after Sunday’s memorial.

“He loved life,” Frank Racaniello said. “He was very much into the beach and the ocean and scuba diving.”

While at Benjamin Cardozo HS Christopher spent his summers working out at Montauk Point, Sandra Racaniello said. Eventually Christopher, who also graduated from PS 94 and MS 67 in Little Neck, attended Southampton College on Long Island and graduated as a member of the business honor society, his parents said.

He joined Cantor Fitzgerald after finishing college, his parents said. Since the World Trade Center attack, the Racaniellos have been overwhelmed with community support.

“My wife and I realized that it wasn’t only our personal tragedy,” Frank Racaniello said. “We lost our son, but we realized just as much that it was a national tragedy.”

As time passes and grief over the loss of their son becomes a part of everyday life, Frank Racaniello said he has struggled with the feeling that Christopher’s death has been ignored by a system of charity and city relief services geared toward helping spouses and children, not parents. At least $1 billion has been raised for World Trade Center relief efforts so far.

“It’s not about the money,” said Racaniello, who said he and his family were not looking for personal financial relief after Christopher’s death. “I’d be happy to take money and distribute it to charities in my son’s name. That’s all I want — recognition for my son.”

Frank Racaniello made it clear he and his family had not applied for financial relief and had not been rejected by any particular organization. Racaniello also said he would be happy with a memorial for victims who left behind parents and families but did not spouses or children to support.

“As a parent, I can’t let this lie,” he said. “I don’t know what the answer is. I have to protect my son — I can’t just let him die the way he did” without any recognition, he said.

Christopher Racaniello is survived by his parents, fiancée Lisa Greco of Little Neck, and older brother Frank Joseph Racaniello.

For more information on Southampton College’s Christopher Racaniello Memorial Scholarship Fund, call the school at 631-287-8347. Send contributions to: Alumni Office, Southampton College, 239 Montauk Highway, Southampton, NY 11968.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.