Maryellen Laino lost her then husband, Tim Stout, when the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. Stout, 42, was among financial services giant Cantor Fitzgerald’s nearly 700 employees at the site, all of whom perished.
Maryellen was 33 at the time; their children, Tim Jr., Matthew, and Shannon, were 6, 5, and 4, respectively.
All three, now in their mid-20s, currently live with their mother in the yellow house on Ogden Avenue where they grew up. They share the home with their stepfather, David Laino, 59, a widower who Maryellen married in 2008. David Laino has two children — Vincent, 24, and Michelle, 22.
Tim Stout Jr. is a professional singer/songwriter/guitarist. Matthew Stout is a permanent substitute teacher at Springhurst Elementary School. Shannon heads a Young Adult Ministry she started at Sacred Heart Church this summer. Vincent Laino is on the faculty of Shore Country Day School in Beverly, Mass. Michelle Laino is a fitness trainer and barista in Bronxville.
Though Maryellen Laino spoke at Dobbs Ferry’s Sept. 11 memorial service 10 years ago, thanking the community for its support, she won’t deliver remarks at this year’s event.
“Losing Tim was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with,” she said. “Raising little kids, you plan your life, and then the shock of it — you have to switch gears.
“But my thing is,” she continued, “I really leaned on the presence of God, not only in myself but also the people around me who are ministering to me. That’s one of the reasons I did this.”
“This” refers to the Bereavement Ministry that she and her husband created this past spring at Sacred Heart. She described the program as a chance for people to “pray, talk about loss in a safe environment, help them gain coping strategies with other people on similar journeys… the idea of taking the pain and the sorrow and using that for other people to know that healing is possible for them as well.”
The endeavor is a natural step for Laino, who teaches theology at Maria Regina, the all-girl Catholic high school in Hartsdale, where her mother previously held the position. David Laino’s first wife, Alaina, passed away from brain cancer in 2003. Maryellen and David met at Sacred Heart Church.
Laino and her children speak candidly about the tragedy of 9/11. She related that son Tim was at school, while Shannon and Matt were watching TV with her (“Clifford the Big Red Dog,” she noted) when her brother called to tell her to change the channel.
“I didn’t know I was going to watch the building get hit by a plane,” Laino recalled. “They were with me and they watched it; Tim came home [from school]. They knew their father wasn’t home, and he worked in that building... I didn‘t want to lie to them. I was very honest and careful.”
She remarked that as her children revisit and discuss the experience, their responses and acceptance are on a more mature level. “Trying to make sense of it, the day, the events surrounding it, we do talk about it quite a bit,” Laino added.
During the ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 11, at 10 a.m., at Waterfront Park, Laino will be content to be a spectator as a wreath is laid at the 9/11 memorial plaque that reads, “The Dobbs Ferry community recognizes and appreciates the many acts of human kindness and lovingly acknowledges the memory of those lost on September 11, 2001.” She’ll also attend mass at Sacred Heart.
Laino has attended the local commemoration every year, accompanied by any of her children who are in Dobbs Ferry at the time. “I’ve never been downtown,” she stated, referring to memorial events at the World Trade Center site. “That’s not my thing.”