McCluer North StarGazer

Legacy that lives

Ymani Wince, Editor-in-Chief

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Before the Jersey Shore grew famous, it was home to lazy summer days with the Salinardi family. Richie Salinardi, younger brother Jayme and countless cousins spent every summer at the shore enjoying their youth and each other.

Standing on the beach, the Salinardi boys dreamed of one day bringing their own children to experience what they had.

When summer vacation was over, Richie and Jayme returned home to Florissant with the memories that would draw them back the following year.

Of the nearly 3,000 victims that perished 10 years ago in the September 11th terrorist attacks was 1987 North graduate Richard “Richie” Salinardi. Salinardi worked on one of the top floors of the South Tower when it collapsed.

Born Richard “Richie” Salinardi in Kirkwood, Mo., Richie was the oldest of three sons to Grace and Richard Salinardi, with two younger siblings Jayme and Jason. At a young age, Richie’s family moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, where his younger brother, Jayme was born.

Richard Salinardi Sr. saw early on that he wanted a better life and opportunity for his family outside the 1 square mile city of Hoboken. So the family packed up and returned to Missouri, settling in Florissant.

Growing up, Richie and Jayme, who was only a year younger, were very close. Of course, the two brothers had sibling rivalry.

“We fought nonstop,” said Jayme, who today is a Mizzou law professor. “There was definitely sibling rivalry.”

As the Salinardi boys grew up and Richie began high school at North in the fall of 1983, Jayme admired his brother for the athlete and person he had become.

“I really enjoyed going to his soccer games. He was a high school kid playing soccer and going to dances. I thought that was always really cool,” Jayme said.

Richie played soccer for both his freshman and sophomore years. However, he discovered a true talent in hockey and tennis. Jayme said he enjoyed going to his brother’s games because of his own inability to skate. Richie was also a writer for the Star Gazer, where he received his early start in journalism.

As a fellow soccer player, David Weis and Richie were best friends. Weis was a grade behind Richie, and said he remembers always hanging out with Richie.

“We [Richie and I] would always go back to his house, it was our home base, and his mother would always make us a meal, no matter what time of the night it was,” Weis said.

Weis said he remembers Richie as a caring person who everyone in school liked. Richie was a genuine person and cared about his friends and family.

Jayme recalls his brother as a guy who would say “I love you mom” every time he left home, with his high school friends watching.

Weis said Richie was a friend who was very serious and “handled his business,” he said. He recalls the 1987 senior class trip with Richie. Although Weis graduated in 1988, he decided to tag along with the rest of his senior friends.

Weis said he remembers how all the other students were having a great time and were completely out of control before the tour bus left Florissant. Meanwhile, he said, Richie just sat in his seat watching everyone else, shaking his head.

“I just remember thinking, ‘man, I’m so glad this guy is my friend,’” he said. “I wanted to be just like him. Richie was a prince.”

That year, after graduation, Richie went to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where he studied radio journalism.

After completing college, he worked in Washington D.C., commuting between D.C. and New Jersey to visit his wife.

When a job as general manager at the observation desk at the Aramark Food Corporation in New York City, Richie and his wife bought a condominium in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Richie made the commute from Hoboken to New York City daily and worked on one of the top floors of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

On September 11th, 2001, Americans were glued to their television screens as terrorists invaded American soil, attacking almost 3,000 men, women and children civilians.

As soon as the Salinardi family in Florissant saw the events unfold on the news, they raced to New Jersey to be with Richie’s wife.

Jayme, who was working in California at the time, could not get to New Jersey because all flights were grounded. By the time he arrived, the family suspected the worst.

“Everyone expected everything to be OK once I got there, but it wasn’t,” he said.

According to a story in The New York Times, “Instead of pushing his way onto a crowded elevator, he (Salinardi) told a co-worker, Gary Angelica, that he and his staff would catch the next one.”

As the days following the attacks dragged on, there was little hope for survival, not just for the Salinardis, but for the thousands of other victims’ families as well.

Richie Salinardi’s memorial service was held at St. Angela Merici in Florissant. There was enormous outpouring of support from friends, family, and anyone that knew Richie. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s website, Richie has more than 2,000 pages worth of signatures in his guestbook. Many of those messages are updated annually to remember him.

Since its inception in 2001, an American flag with the names of victims that perished in the September 11th terrorist attacks hangs in the lower advisement center. Richie’s hockey jersey also hangs outside the main gym to commemorate him. Richie’s story can also be found in Portraits, a book by The New York Times, listing all the victims of the terrorist attacks, and can be found in the library.

Deemed a “prince” by David Weis, Richie Salinardi was royalty to all that loved and knew him.

 

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