Laura Rockefeller

By Pauline Coutts

Laura Rockefeller memorial plaque
Photo: Alex Towle

Sometimes it’s the simplest memories which make you smile when you think back to the time before 9/11.

This is true of my memories of Laura Rockefeller, who worked at many of the conferences and events the company ran. I did not know Laura well, but she made a lasting impression which has remained with me.

I first met Laura when I was on a trip to New York and was asked to help first thing at a conference at the Roosevelt Hotel next to Grand Central Station. Laura was there early as usual to help with the setup and registrations. The first speaker hadn’t yet arrived and as it turned out had gone to the wrong hotel—and then promptly refused to come to the Roosevelt.

Some of the attendees were rather annoyed, as they had arrived early specifically to hear this speaker, some having traveled from London for the event. While the producer frantically tried to make alternative arrangements, Laura dealt with the situation very calmly and competently. When I returned later that day she was still there, making sure everything ran smoothly until the last delegate had left.

We ended up sitting outside the empty conference room chatting about her life in New York, enjoying a glass of wine together as she wound down after a tiring day.

On another occasion she joined a few of us for dinner at a downtown apartment where one of the founding Risk directors was staying. Laura noticed a piano in the corner of the room and promptly sat down to play. She was note-perfect. It was a fun evening, full of laughter.

And that was what our colleagues were doing on September 11: working hard, building their careers, but also having fun and enjoying each other’s company.

At this time of year, we will always remember them, and reflect on our individual experiences on that day and the days and months which followed.

Anyone who worked for Risk Waters at the time will have lots of good memories of the people who tragically died on that day. It was a relatively small company, so the staff all knew each other well and spent a lot of time together, both at work and socially.

Laura was a true professional, someone who could be counted on to do a great job, was wonderful company and I am sure would have been a fantastic friend.

Pauline Coutts, HR director at Risk Waters, 1995–2005

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