Foundation Member Killed In World Trade Center AttackJanuary 2002
By Twig Mowatt
Here at Life Extension, we regard members as part of our family. That is why it is so sad for us to report that longtime Foundation member Lindsay Herkness was a victim of the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Lindsay was a loyal supporter who referred many of his friends to us. What we remember most were Lindsay's personal visits where he insisted on shaking everyone's hand to thank us for our simultaneous battles against aging and FDA tyranny. We at Life Extension particularly grieve the manner of Lindsay's death, as it precluded us from using our technical knowhow to save him. In this article, we pay tribute to Lindsay Herkness as a person who captured the hearts and minds of all who surrounded him throughout his life. Lindsay will be sorely missed by all who appreciate the special value of human life.
Like many who were at work in the World Trade Center the morning of September 11, Lindsay couldn't begin to comprehend the danger he faced after the first hijacked plane hit the northern tower. So he elected to remain at his desk on the 73rd floor of Tower II where he was a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley, a retail brokerage firm that occupied 21 floors in the Trade Center. In phone calls to friends after American Airlines flight 11 struck the first tower, Lindsay reported that public service announcements were urging people to remain in their offices. He said the jolt had knocked him off his chair and that debris had been falling from the ceiling, but that he was fine. Ultimately, he wasn't.
Every holiday season for the last 20 years, Lindsay Herkness' legions of friends-from his golf, tennis and squash-playing buddies, to his devoted business clients, his fellow opera and theater buffs, and those who shared his enthusiasm for health-have eagerly awaited the arrival of his annual Christmas card. Lindsay's cards were customized and notorious. He might select a photo from one of his trips-his 1986 card featured him in a hot air balloon over the Swiss Alps with the caption, "Dropping in on Swiss clients…. with more hot air!" More recently, a shot of him being escorted away from Buckingham Palace by two bobbies carried the words, "I only recommended to Her Majesty that she fund an IRA account."
There were cards that played up his sporting exploits-both real and imagined. In one, he's fresh off the slopes, still in his ski-racing bib, in another he appears to be bungee jumping from some needle-like building in New Zealand. The common theme across the years was his self-deprecating wit. That wit was much on display in 1993, the year his basset hound Beauregard poised regally on the bed next to an enormous blue ribbon. Lindsay was seen in the background, working out on his Nordic track and casting an admiring glance toward his award-winning pet. The caption that year: "Best in Show and Wanna be."
By now, thousands of Americans know something about Lindsay through these cards as well. That's because his friends scoured their closets and file cabinets, digging out their all-time favorites and making photocopies to post on walls, lampposts and vehicles and at the makeshift memorials that appeared all over New York City in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. His image, with a chef's hat, wide grin and brandishing an egg whisk has also been seen online at some of the websites devoted to victims of the attack.
These are the last photos of Lindsay. And, now, as sad as it is for those who loved him to know that no card will be coming this year-those vibrant images of the past contain some solace. "He had a great life," said long-time friend Douglas Braff. "You'd want him to have had another day, of course, but he had 58 great years and he didn't leave a lot undone."
Friend and frequent mixed doubles partner, Sophie Bell Ayres expressed a similar sentiment: "He loved life-he had a contagious enthusiasm for everything he did." Starting with sports.
Like a pro
Lindsay's typical day began at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. with a trip to his health club at Equinox on 63rd Street. There he'd spend 40 minutes on the elliptical-a routine he'd often repeat after work-but before his daily game of squash at Manhattan's Union Club. Lindsay was a top-level squash player, who competed in both singles and doubles tournaments and had a special talent for picking hotshot doubles partners that helped propel him to victory. (The Union Club announced in October that it was naming its annual mixed doubles tournament in honor of Lindsay.)
He often weight trained in his apartment and brought in a personal trainer nearly every day to help him with shiatsu stretching. He also loved to ski, often taking helicopters into the Austrian Alps to reach the really rugged slopes. (He usually left on Friday and returned on Sunday.) Then there was tennis and, later in life came a newfound passion for golf.
In fact, friends report that just days before his death, Lindsay refused to forego his golf lesson at Long Island's Piping Rock Club-even in the midst of a downpour. Standing under an umbrella, he was nevertheless able to focus, following the pro's advice to step back another two inches from the ball before taking a swing. He struggled with his new stance at first, but kept at it until he was nailing shots off the driving range. People remember his enthusiasm-and huge smile-over his new mastery.
His dear friend of 22 years, Isabel Carden often accompanied him on his sporting outings-but usually had trouble keeping up with him. They spent one day last Labor Day weekend together, first making time on the links for a two-hour golf lesson, then grabbing a quick lunch before heading out to play a set or two of tennis. (Lindsay played. Isabel watched.) When Isabel pleaded for some free time in which to take a shower, Lindsay was so aghast at the prospect of 30 minutes of down time that he climbed on the treadmill for an additional workout before heading out for the evening. "He had to cram 24 hours a day with every type of activity imaginable," she says. "He would describe some of his days and I'd get exhausted just listening to him."
Lindsay managed to cram a lot into his days, because he didn't use up a lot of time sleeping. Doug remembers that Lindsay rarely slept more than five hours a night and managed to maintain his energy level through the day by perfecting the 20-minute catnap.
"You needed a pair of roller skates to keep up with him," Doug says. "If doing one thing was good, then doing two things was better, and doing three things was even better."
Into the arts and health
Though sports was an important element on his daily activity list-it was by no means the only entry. A long-time resident of Manhattan's Upper East Side, Lindsay loved to explore the cultural and culinary offerings of the city. He was an opera buff, adored the theater and cinema and was famous for attending as many as three different parties in a single evening. (A tribute to Lindsay in the New York Times referred to him as one of the few bon vivants who worked for a living.) Though he was a perennial bachelor, who delighted in escorting new ladyfriends around town, his extensive roster of devoted female friends defied the stereotype of a typical playboy. This was a man who had great respect for women. Indeed, after two years of serious dating with Isabel, their relationship morphed seamlessly into that of lifelong friends.
"He was my family," she says now. "He was very good to people and always there for his friends-he was the most loyal friend you could ever imagine."
So loyal in fact, that Lindsay was the one who supported Isabel through three open-heart surgeries. He would visit her three times a day in intensive care for the duration of her stay, dealt with the doctors, and handled all her household arrangements during her recuperation. It was out of concern for Isabel's health that Lindsay, a longtime member of the Life Extension Foundation, ultimately convinced her to join as well. She soon began following in his steps by taking vitamins and supplements-but found it a bit harder to replicate his eating habits.
"When I first met him, I had to make him millet and yams for breakfast or rice and vegetables-and he literally vacuumed it up," she recalls. "I thought no one could eat like that." She remembers that Lindsay put away plenty of flax seed, oatmeal and fish and that he was keenly serious about eating sensibly (give or take the occasional steak dinner at Manhattan's 21 Club). He also ordered fresh, organic produce flown in every other day from a company in California.
In fact, when Doug recently called to cancel that standing order with the company, the owner was full of praise for his faithful client, mentioning that on a visit to New York City a while back, Lindsay had taken him and his son on a tour of the Stock Exchange floor. (Several other people told Doug that they and their families had received similar tours from Lindsay and noted how especially kind he had been to the kids who came along.)
And businessman, too
That was territory that Lindsay knew well. He was an extraordinarily good stockbroker, being named to the chairman's club, membership which is reserved for only the highest performers. Lindsay got his start in the business by being one of the first brokers to offer investment seminars on cruise ships. His early years on the S.S. France and with Lindblad Expeditions earned him a loyal following of investors, some of whom included three generations of the same family. By the end, he was an investment councilor to more than 1,000 people, many of whom have been contacting Isabel in a panic over how to manage their savings without his sage advise. "I have people calling me who are hysterical, because he helped them so much over years and years," she said. "That was the type of guy he was. He wanted to take care of everyone."
Lindsay felt that responsibility particularly acutely with his godson, Douglas Braff, Jr., Doug's four-year-old child. Confirmed bachelor that he was, Lindsay had little experience in the ways of children-but that didn't keep him from trying. "He was very generous to Douglas. He'd go into Radio Shack and, because he didn't have any sense about kids, he'd buy some game that was probably meant for a kid 10 years older," says Doug. "He made this huge effort though-and that was so Lindsay."
Making room for all his friends
Another way he took care of his friends was through his famous annual cocktail party. Though Lindsay lived in a spacious-by New York City standards-two-bedroom apartment, he couldn't begin to accommodate his hordes of friends at the same time. His solution was ingenious-he alphabetized the guest list, inviting his friends with last names A through M to the first night, and N through Z to the second. When even this grouping proved too large, he further broke down the lists into different times, inviting those with similar interests-say married suburban couples-for the earlier spot, and saving the late slot for his single urban friends. "People were always fascinated by what night and time they were invited to go to Lindsay's," says Doug.
So many of those people besieged Doug with requests to speak at Lindsay's memorial service that his great challenge for late October was finding a way to limit the tributes to an hour. Philip Purcell, chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, read a lesson and four others (Isabel, Lindsay's brother Wayne, his good friend Frank Hamilton and former Dean Witter President Robert Gardiner) delivered eulogies to a standing-room-only crowd at St. Bartholomew's Church on October 30. "You always hear that the service should be the celebration of a life, but for Lindsay of all people, this [was] the case," said Doug.
Isabel likewise had her hands full in the weeks following the death of her best friend. Not only did she adopt Gaston-Lindsay's treasured basset hound and the son of Beauregard Hound, the subject of so many Christmas cards over the years-but she also helped Doug respond to scores of phone calls, notes and e-mails from Lindsay's devastated friends. "I've had 30 e-mails from people I never even heard of-every one of them saying how special Lindsay had been to them," she says. "One woman even called up sobbing, saying that she didn't know what she was going to do without Lindsay. The truth is that we'll all have to just get on with it-that's what he would have wanted from us."