William "Tony" A.Karnes was one of those lost when the building he worked in was in was destroyed September 11. Tony was employed as a technology trainer at Marsh & McLennan. He was at their offices on the 97th floor, of World Trade Center's Tower One, when it was struck by one of the four hijacked airliners.
Tony Karnes, a native Tennessean who grew up on a farm, was an aficionado of corn, dogs, grits, gravy and biscuits. He spoke with a drawl and approached the world with the wide-open friendliness of the rural South.
"He had a very simple beginning in life," said John Winter, his partner of three years. "And he ended up in one of the most sophisticated cities and the most sophisticated buildings in the world." Despite his background, Karnes was undaunted by the city he lived in. "He liked new things," Winter said.
The couple, who moved here two years ago, took full advantage of what the city had to offer, visiting museums, going to movies, and walking along Battery Park Esplanade, near their apartment. One of their favorite pastimes was simply to walk around Manhattan, sometimes with a guidebook in hand, and take in the sights, smells and tastes on display. Karnes was gradually becoming a lover of art, architecture and classical music and, Winter said, "He got hooked on Mozart."
And then there was food. To thank Karnes for introducing him to the foot-long corn dog, Winter showed his partner Thai and Indian food, and Karnes found he loved the spicy, exotic tastes.
Still, Winter said, "We were a very boring couple. We didn't do any wild things. We were both ready to settle down with somebody and to live with a partner ...We were in it for the long haul."
It's this that makes it so hard for Winter, who says he lost his soulmate. "If I traveled, he would put a little message or a card in my case, so that when I unpacked in the hotel, I would find it," Winter said. "He was just incredibly thoughtful and very, very caring."
The morning of Sept. 11 was very much like every other morning, Winter said. "I hugged him and kissed him and told him that I loved him, and he told me that he loved me, and he left for work," he said. "There was nothing left unsaid. There was nothing I wanted to say to him or I wanted him to say to me. It was complete."
Karnes, who went by "Tony", left for his office at about 8:30. At 8:45, Winter heard what sounded like a calamitous thunder clap. When he looked out his apartment window, he could already see his future. Karnes was killed in that morning's tragedy. In dealing with the aftermath, Winter says that he was "fortunate [in having] a good relationship with Tony's family in Knoxville."