The Fetchet family, from left: Mary, Frank, Chris ’11, Brad ’99 and Wes ’04
" "
Frank and Mary Fetchet have dedicated their lives to helping others who’ve experienced traumatic events.
Photos: Courtesy of Mary and Frank Fetchet P’99, P’04, P’11
Surviving 9/11

Embodying Resilience

Bucknell parents channel grief into action to help others
by George Spencer

efore he died on 9/11, Brad Fetchet ’99 kept a journal. Its front page showcases a quote from the German poet Goethe: “You can tell the character of a man by what he does for the man who can offer him nothing.”

To honor his memory and that of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed that day, Fetchet’s parents, Mary and Frank, founded the Voices Center for Resilience, formerly known as Voices of September 11th (VOICES). For the last 20 years, the Voices Center and its staff of 10 have provided over 180,000 hours of social-service support for victims’ families, first responders and survivors through counseling, workshops, webinars, trainings and annual symposia. They also share their expertise with communities affected by other mass-casualty tragedies in the U.S. and abroad.

“I didn’t want another mother to lose a child in a terrorist attack,” says Mary, the center’s executive director. “If you’ve been directly affected, unless you take steps and use your voice to influence people to do the right thing, it can and will happen again. Even as we approach the 20th anniversary, we’re still contacted by individuals seeking assistance for the first time. Our work is more important than ever.”

The Fetchet family, from left: Mary, Frank, Chris ’11, Brad ’99 and Wes ’04.
" "
The Fetchet family, from left: Mary, Frank, Chris ’11, Brad ’99 and Wes ’04.


A former clinical social worker, Mary became an advocate soon after 9/11. She traveled to Manhattan regularly from her New Canaan, Conn., home to press for the needs of victims’ families and survivors. She and the center developed a close relationship with New York City’s medical examiner. More than 1,100 families continue to wait to be notified that remains of their loved ones have been identified.

Mary joined 11 other families to champion the establishment of the 9/11 Commission that led to sweeping intelligence- agency reforms. “The more information we found, the more it was apparent that systemic government failures contributed to the 9/11 attacks. I was shocked there was so much complacency,” she says.

She also served on the advisory board that helped create the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. VOICES later worked with families of 1,600 victims for five years to create one of the museum’s core components — the VOICES 9/11 Living Memorial Project. This online archive contains over 87,000 photographs and mementos of those who died (which includes the six people and an unborn child who died in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing).

Brad Fetchet Headshot
" "
Brad Fetchet ’99 was an economics and computer science double major and Bucknell lacrosse player.


VOICES is now creating an online memorial for 9/11 survivors and responders. More than 90,000 people responded to the attacks, and 400,000 people lived, worked or attended school in the area. There are 83,000 people being treated for physical or mental illnesses as a result of 9/11, according to the Fetchets.

“We shepherd people in a fairly intimate way as they come forward,” says Frank, a former IBM executive who is the center’s vice president of strategy and operations. “We build trusting relationships. We are one of them. We are part of them.”

Resilience — what Frank defines as “the ability to bounce back” — is essential to surviving trauma. “One key message is, life is going to challenge us. We try to control what we can control, and surprises come. You can decide how you’re going to take those on. People who are committed to change can make a difference,” he says.

“The more information we found, the more it was apparent that systemic government failures contributed to the 9/11 attacks. I was shocked there was so much complacency.”
Mary Fetchet P’99, P’04, P’11


On Sept. 11, 2001, the Fetchets’ son Brad was working as an equities trader for a financial firm on the 89th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. After the first tower was hit, Brad spoke to his father on the phone and called his mother and left this message: “Hey, Mom, it’s Brad. I just wanted to call and let you know … that a plane crashed into World Trade Center One. We’re fine. We’re in World Trade Center Two. I’m obviously alive over here, but obviously a pretty scary experience. You’re welcome to give a call. I think we’ll be here all day. Love you.” Seventeen minutes after the first impact, the second plane flew into Brad’s building, hitting below where he worked, and he was unable to escape. He was 24.

Brad’s brothers Wes ’04 and Chris ’11 attended Bucknell and, like their older brother, majored in economics and played lacrosse. At Bucknell, Brad was vice president of Kappa Delta Rho and tutored elementary school students.

The center has had more than 200 interns, including 20 from Bucknell. “It’s been rewarding to see how touching the lives of those we serve has influenced them. Many have chosen careers where they give back,” says Frank. Some now work for international charities, in the State Department or as immigration lawyers.

Paige Freyre ’21 is grateful for the internship. “It was powerful to see the Fetchets improve the lives of so many people,” she says. “The center has inspired me to pursue my dream of a career that creates a similar positive social impact.”

“The Fetchets are something else,” adds former intern Margot Tucker ’19. “They embody the word ‘resilience.’ I count myself very lucky to know them.”

" "
Learn more about trauma recovery