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In Remembrance
Place of Residence:
Morganville, NJ
Location on 9/11:
OCS Security | Deputy Fire Safety Director

Each morning before work, Robert J. Mayo would leave his 11-year-old son, Corbin, a handwritten note reporting how the local sports teams had fared the night before.

On Sept. 11, he scrawled the Giants' 31-20 loss to the Denver Broncos. Mr. Mayo ended the note, as he always did, with "I love you," and then left for his job as a deputy fire inspector at the World Trade Center.

He never came back.

Meryl Mayo, Robert's wife of 17 years, spoke to her husband by cellphone shortly after two hijacked jets rammed into the Twin Towers. Mr. Mayo, who worked for the OCS Group, the company responsible for fire safety at the World Trade Center, was stationed in Building 4. He successfully helped evacuate that structure and then called his wife.

"I begged him. I begged him to leave," said Meryl Mayo. "I told him to get out, that everyone was going towards the water or north. I guess he made a very tough choice. He said, 'Don't worry, I'll speak to you later.'"

Mr. Mayo was last seen in the lobby of the North Tower shortly before it collapsed, working to keep calm and order as he helped evacuate thousands of people from the building.

"He was a great guy. There's a definite hole inside of me now," his wife said. "It's not just that he was my love . . . he was my companion. We would speak sometimes a dozen times a day, and it's as if someone just shut the faucet off."

Meryl Mayo said she and Corbin will preserve the last note Mr. Mayo left for his son, a small reminder of his love for life, his love for family.

Mr. Mayo met his future bride when the two attended Brooklyn College in 1980 and he was a bass player in a garage band that played Led Zeppelin cover songs. They married in 1984 and moved to Marlboro with their son six years ago.

Mr. Mayo, 46, was a devoted father and a fixture at his son's basketball, soccer and Little League baseball games. He even taught his son to fuse his love of music and sports: Before games, father and son would get revved up together by blasting Led Zeppelin's song "Black Dog."

The family also shared a passion for travel. But they steered clear of beach resorts and instead headed to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the Hollywood Studios of California and the historical sites of Virginia and Philadelphia.

"I used to call him the camp counselor. He would be the first one up in the morning and try to get in as much as possible. I always said I would get him a gold-plated whistle and a clipboard," Meryl Mayo said.

But she said that for all of the loving memories, there was so much more they had planned. They thought Corbin was now old enough for a family trip to Europe. Mr. Mayo wanted to teach his son how to play bass guitar. And then there were the Giants that Mr. Mayo mentioned in his final note. Father and son longed to go to a game together at Giants Stadium.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Mayo is survived by his father, Irving "Bill" Mayo, and his stepmother, Connie Mayo, of Aventura, Fla.; and his stepbrother, Keith Brown, of Manhattan.

Profile by Jeff Whelan published in THE STAR-LEDGER