Photo of Black food handler who died in Twin Towers finally added to 9/11 museum

Albert Ogletree, who worked at a cafeteria inside the World Trade Center's north tower, finally has his portrait on the Wall of Faces.

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The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is tasked with a somber mission, according to its website: Bearing “solemn witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. Respecting this site made sacred through loss, the Memorial and Museum remembers and honors the nearly 3,000 victims of these attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others.”

However, for more than 20 years, the New York City-based museum was unable to fully honor several victims, of whom no photo had been found, according to a Washington Post report.

A firefighter places his hand on the name engravings on the south pool during ceremonies to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. (Photo: John Minchillo/AP, File)

One of those victims, Albert Ogletree, a Black man who worked at a cafeteria inside the World Trade Center’s north tower, has finally claimed his place on the Wall of Faces after a painstaking search to find a portrait of him.

According to a blog post from the museum last week, Grant Llera, who works on the Visitors Services staff, was curious about Ogletree’s missing photograph and started doing some digging. He eventually located Kathy Abdo, who is a city councilwoman in Romulus, Michigan, where Ogletree grew up.

Abdo, a retired teacher who worked in the school system for the small Detroit suburb, had the idea to look through the school’s yearbooks to see if there was a photo of Ogletree. She eventually found a now 50-plus-year-old image and lent it to the museum so they could reproduce it.

An obituary for his wife was located as well, leading to the discovery of Justine Jones, Ogletree’s stepdaughter, who was able to confirm that the photo was indeed of her stepfather, who she recalled as “a loving man,” important in her life.

Prior to the installation of his photo, only an icon of a leaf served as a placeholder for Ogletree’s portrait. The leaf is a reference to the swamp oak trees planted on the grounds of the 9/11 memorial site.

“It is a place no one wishes their loved one to be seen, given the circumstances of why they are there,” said Jan S. Ramirez, the museum’s chief curator. “Nonetheless, it is so rewarding to retire that leaf icon tile with the replacement of this quietly compelling portrait.”

Ogletree was born Dec. 25, 1951, and grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. He moved to New York City after getting married and worked as a food handler for Cantor Fitzgerald, a financial services firm that occupied several top floors of the North Tower. His stepdaughter also shared other memories about him with the museum, a site that collects 9/11 victims’ personal portraits, personal effects and personal stories — all from the loved ones of those lost in the deadly terrorist attacks.

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