Weeks after her son Daniel McNeal’s (MBA ’00) funeral, Kathryn McNeal received a phone bill of her son’s. “I was stunned at the number of people he talked to,” she said. “But that’s the way he was – so many people he kept in touch with, who he talked to, who talked to him.”

One of the last people to exit the 104th floor of the World Trade Center Tower Two, Daniel, 29, was among the first victims identified after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“He wouldn’t have left that floor if there was anyone else up there,” his mother said. “When we got his body, his face looked perfectly peaceful, no suffering – he looked like he would if I was kissing him goodnight. It was a miracle we got him back.”

After high school at Loyola in Maryland and graduating summa cum laude with a finance degree from Boston College, Daniel, his mother said, took great pride in his Jesuit education. Georgetown, she said, was “the crown of his education . and two of the happiest years of his life.”

“He wanted to retire in his 40s and go back to Georgetown, to live in the area and teach at the university,” she said.

Daniel had worked as a banking analyst at Sandler O’Neil & Partners for 15 months, and had recently been made a vice president. His mother said not many people knew about Daniel’s promotion because, in keeping with the consideration he always showed others, he did not want to hurt those colleagues who had worked there longer and not received such a position.

MBA professor Reena Aggarwal, who had Daniel in two classes during his time at Georgetown, described him as “a great human being. Dan was always smiling and ready to help out with anything. Even after he graduated, he was always helping other students to find jobs or give them advice.”

Assistant Dean Toni Della-Ratta said Daniel was mentoring a disadvantaged youth in New York and was trying to set up a scholarship to send the student to Boston College. “How many people who work in investment banks have time to help like that? But that was just like Daniel, always trying to make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Kathryn McNeal said she received a letter from another Wall Street company that especially stood out to her. “They said they `didn’t believe there could be anyone on Wall Street as honest as Dan McNeal,'” she said.

His mother said Daniel decided to work at Sandler O’Neil & Partners because “it is an ethical company . they stand for what they knew was right.”

“It was where he belonged,” she said, “he just didn’t belong on the 104th floor.”

Very early on, Daniel had adopted St. Ignatius’s ideal of being a man for others, his mother said, a principle “he lived to the very end.”

His tremendous faith, she said, bordered on the naive. “I would tell him, but he wouldn’t believe that there could be evil and evil people in the world,” she said.

Daniel’s funeral, Della-Ratta said, “was a high ass, sung in Latin – it was beautiful. Dan’s mother’s cousin is a priest, and he baptized Dan. He was there to say his funeral Mass.”

Della-Ratta said there was standing room only at the Sept. 18 service, and that many of Daniel’s Georgetown classmates were present. A memorial service was also held in California, and was attended by nearly 50 people from the San Francisco area.

Daniel loved politics, his mother said, though “he was too honest to be a politician.” He loved heroes and also sports. “He knew all the stats, he could just rattle them off,” she said.

Kathryn McNeal, Della-Ratta and Aggarwal all described how much Daniel enjoyed people. “I’d ask him what a person looked like, and he’d say he didn’t know, but that they were so nice . it was as though he looked into people’s souls when he met them,” his mother said.

“His hand was always reaching out to people,” Aggarwal said, “and he was always smiling.”

“I just keep telling myself that he was too good to stay in this world too long,” his mother said. “I keep telling myself that God said, `Daniel, you’ve accomplished what you were put here for.’ He loved heroes, and he died as one.”

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