Bradley Hoorn ’01 understood that the city in which he lived and worked was the crux of finance and culture, but no restaurant in New York served his favorite food, graham crackers with chocolatey fudge frosting whipped up by his mother.
That was waiting for him at home.
Flying back nearly every weekend while he lived in New York, the 22-year-old Hoorn was tethered to his hometown, Richland, Mich., population 4,000, between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.
He built the dock behind his house leading to the lake where he spent balmy days coasting on his Wave Runner. The water, his parents, younger sister and their two yellow labs, were respite from 12-hour days working in finance.
Kathy Hoorn last spoke with her son Sept. 10. He was excited about getting a day off from work for Thanksgiving and had just bought tickets for a flight home.
“We just had a wonderful time together,” his mother Kathy Hoorn said from the family’s home. “I spent 22 years with a great kid.”
Hoorn was working as a research associate on the 93rd floor of 1 World Trade Center as a first-year research associate at Fred Alger Management, a job he started a little over a week after he graduated from Yale. Hoorn remains missing from the Sept. 11 attack on the Trade Center.
“When he decided to do something, he did it all the way,” close friend Rebecca Saenz ’01 said. “He knew what made him happy and he would pursue those things with a passion few people have.”
At Yale, Hoorn was a member of the student investment club and the Calhoun College Housing Committee for three years. His peers unanimously nominated him sophomore year for the task of working on the committee; Calhoun College Dean Stephen Lassonde reappointed him for a second year and then made him chair his senior year.
“He was the kind of student you knew could just turn a program over to and let him run it with complete confidence, because he was fastidious and flexible,” Lassonde wrote in an e-mail.
One Saturday evening sophomore year, Hoorn taught Daniel Pollack-Pelzner ’01 a lesson for life.
Pollack-Pelzner was planning on wearing a necktie to a dance that weekend, but Hoorn stopped him, telling him he’d be insulting his girlfriend if he showed up so underdressed. What he needed, Hoorn said, was a bowtie.
With his bedside copy of “Style and the Man” on hand, Hoorn sat down with Pollack-Pelzner, making him practice looping Hoorn’s own blue Bulldog bowtie around his thigh until he could master the art.
The evening’s ensemble was almost complete. The only thing missing was a pair of cufflinks. Hoorn provided his friend with his own.
Saenz recalled the many late nights Hoorn would stop by her room with Chinese take-out from China King to chat with her, always reminding her that school work was not the most important thing in life.
“He would never ask how classes were doing. He would ask how I was doing,” Saenz said. “He just cared in an environment where not everyone does.”
A lover of cars, Hoorn had dreamt for years of owning a Porsche. He and his friends had agreed that at a five-year reunion, they would all rent Porsches together for the day.
But when Hoorn secured a job last year with Fred Alger Management, he arranged a deal with his father in which he could buy his own. Before he had even graduated, Hoorn had fulfilled a life dream.
He was the proud owner of a 1987 sportscar-red Porsche 911.
“It seems like God really wanted him to have this Porsche,” Steve Sion, Hoorn’s roommate at Yale and in New York, said from their midtown Manhattan apartment. “A lot of people say they want a Porsche and he was able to get it. When he did something, he really had his mind to it.
“He could do anything he wanted.”
Kathy Hoorn said her son’s plan was to work for three or four more years before going to business school. He had intended to work for 20 years in finance and then return home and perhaps teach at his local alma mater.
“He had a plan for his life and he was going to accomplish it,” Sion said. “It kills me that he had everything going for him. It’s hard to make sense of it all, why he was taken so quickly away from us all.”
Hoorn’s memorial service in Michigan at the First United Methodist Church Saturday was brimming with more than 1,100 mourners.
On Friday, before the memorial service, Kathy Hoorn recalled her son’s love for words.
In a short story Hoorn penned when he was in 9th grade, a Muslim in Serbia suffers under the government’s ethnic cleansing campaign. His home ravaged, his family torn, he finally flees to America.
As his ship is coming into the New York harbor and he gazes at the Statue of Liberty, he has one thought, the story’s last line: “Unless men can learn to live with one another, there will never be a just solution to humanity’s problems.”
A memorial fund has been established in honor of Bradley Hoorn. Contributions should be sent to: Brad Hoorn Kalamazoo Community Endowed Memorial Fund, 151 South Rose St. Suite 332, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.