Albert Ogletree: The Search for One Victim's Long-Missing Portrait

  • March 15, 2022
A man in a pink t-shirt (left) and a woman in a lavender sweater stand in front of the Wall of Faces, which features photographs of the victims of the attacks
Grant Llera (left) and Jan S. Ramirez in front of Ogletree's newly installed portrait in the Wall of Faces. Photo: Jin S. Lee

Honoring and individualizing the victims of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 form the heart of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s mission. The process of collecting victim portraits, recovered personal effects, mementos, and stories, from loved ones, is painstaking. And until today, Albert Ogletree was one of only two victims on the Wall of Faces, dedicated to those killed, whose image was unknown. After more than a decade of searching, a photograph of Ogletree has been located and installed.

Grant Llera, a Visitors Services staff member, was often posted at the Memorial Exhibition Gallery and became curious about the leaf icons (referencing the Swamp Oak trees planted on the Memorial Plaza) that represented the few victims for whom there were no photographs. He reached out to Kathy Abdo, a Councilwoman in Romulus City, near Detroit, where Ogletree was from.

The Museum had little information about Ogletree. He was born on Christmas Day in 1951 and grew up in the Detroit suburb with his parents and sister, Elizabeth. After high school, he moved to New York, married, and lived there until his death on 9/11. At the time of the attacks, Ogletree was employed as a food handler in the cafeteria at Cantor Fitzgerald, which occupied the North Tower's uppermost floors.

Black and white yearbook photograph showing Albert Ogletree
Ogletree in his freshman year of high school

In their attempts to find out more about him and obtain his photo, the Museum staff had tried, unsuccessfully, to locate his employment records at Forte Foods, which serviced Cantor Fitzgerald. Eventually, his Romulus High School connection proved to be the missing link: it's what led Llera to Councilwoman Abdo, a retired teacher familiar with the school’s history and records.

When she heard that the Museum was trying to locate Ogletree's picture, she sorted through old yearbooks in the hopes of spotting him. Eventually, she managed to find a black and white photo from his freshman year, and arranged to lend us the yearbook so we could reproduce the image.

Concurrently, an obituary found for Ogletree's wife, who died in 2004, led to his stepdaughter Justine Jones, who shared her memories of him with our staff. She recalled him as a loving man who played an important role in her life, and a skillful electronics repairman. Most importantly, she confirmed that the youthful yearbook photo was indeed Ogletree, whose appearance remained largely unchanged over the years.

This afternoon, the 9/11 Memorial Museum officially added Ogletree's photo to our portrait gallery.

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

Anyone with further information about Ogletree is encouraged to contact the Museum.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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