Charles S. Hirsch, New York City's Chief Medical Examiner on September 11, 2001, passed away last Friday. He was 79.
In 2001 I was living in Evanston. I must confess that I was not aware that Hirsch immediately led the charge to identify victims of the attacks, breaking his own ribs at Ground Zero in his rush to the scene. By 2005 I was living in Manhattan. One day I found myself at Todaro's, the inimitable deli on 2nd Avenue that is near NYU Medical Center. (I worked in the library.) Hirsch was on the faculty at NYU, and his facility to inspect the victim's remains was at the southern tip of the medical center complex. There he was at Todaro's, and we briefly struck up a chat.
The humility and courtesy of the City's Chief Medical Examiner was wonderful. Hirsch offered the usual apologies for never entering the library anymore, I offered the usual assurances that this was ok as long as he had the information he needed.
Later I attended a talk by Hirsch at the Medical Center, where he gave an update on his progress and offered anew his promise to never ever give up in his quest to identify the remains. He kept it.