Kingman High School grad among those missing following attack on World Trade Center

A 1968 graduate of Kingman High School who made a living in the risk management field was inside the World Trade Center in New York City during the morning of the terrorist attack Sept.

1.

He remains missing.

Gary Bird, 51, of Tempe visited the 99th floor of the Manhattan high-rise to attend a meeting at Marsh USA Insurance Co., Tempe Mayor Neil G.

Giuliano said.

He said Bird, who had been laid off from a job with Phelps Dodge in June, accepted a position as senior vice president with the company.

Bird remains unaccounted for and his family scheduled a memorial service for him Oct.

4 in Mesa, Giuliano said.

Giuliano described Bird's fate as "very tragic," adding, "There are thousands and thousands of stories like this" from the terrorist attacks.

"We're going to miss him."

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani played down chances of finding anyone alive in the World Trade Center rubble Tuesday as families and rescue workers faced the reality that many of the more than 6,000 missing victims may never be recovered.

Two commercial planes commandeered by hijackers struck the World Trade Center Sept.

11.

With 6,453 people listed as missing, Giuliani said the number of confirmed dead had risen by 15 people to 276 — 206 of them identified.

The massive rubble from the twin 110-story buildings has surrendered fewer than 20 bodies per day on average since the attack.

Only five survivors have been found, none since the day after the attack.

Bird's wife, Donna, said she has given up hope that he will be found.

"We believe that Gary is in cowboy heaven," she said of the equestrian enthusiast.

High school classmate Scott Dunton described Bird as a "great guy" who was active in sports and student government.

"There was nobody who did not like Gary," said Dunton, a Kingman developer.

"This guy was (at) the top of his class, just an outstanding guy.

There wasn't anything ordinary about Gary at all."

Bird played on the basketball and football teams, served on the student council, was president of his class, belonged to the Lettermen's and Science clubs and National Honor Society, and was named student Rotarian, according to the 1968 high school yearbook.

He left Kingman after graduating from high school, said Dunton, who last saw Bird during the class' 20-year reunion in 1988.

Bird, who was born in Camp Verde, earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Arizona in 1972, said Donna Bird, who had been married to him for more than 19 years.

She said he spent his career in risk management, mostly in the mining business.

He was director of risk management for nearly 12 years at Phelps Dodge when his job was eliminated, company spokesman Bruce Richardson said.

The copper mining company eliminated about 500 jobs while going through a restructuring, Richardson said.

Richardson declined for confidentiality reasons to discuss Bird's association with Phelps Dodge.

"His role here was insurance primarily and liabilities," Richardson said.

Representatives from Bird's new employer, Marsh USA, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Bird served on Tempe's Industrial Development Authority board, Mayor Giuliano said.

The authority works on financing city projects, including the Tempe Town Lake.

"He was very active in the community," Giuliano said.

"He was a big family man" who also was "very into horses."

Bird also was a founding member of the Tempe Boys and Girls Club and was "very committed" to the organization, Giuliano said.

Giuliano said he has known Bird since the mayor first ran for City Council in 1990.

"He and his wife contributed to my campaign, so we enjoyed his political support," Giuliano said.

He added that he will miss Bird's attendance at the annual Industrial Development Authority dinner during the Christmas holiday season.

Donna Bird said the family will set up an educational fund in her husband's name because he was active with the Boys and Girls Club and with the authority's scholarship program.

Bird leaves behind his wife and 15-year-old daughter Amanda and 13-year-old son Andrew.

His mother, Joan, lives in Pine.

His father, Dan, is deceased.

Mrs.

Bird said the family arranged a Mass "to celebrate Gary's life."

The memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Oct.

4 at St.

Timothy's Catholic Church, 1730 W.

Guadalupe Road, Mesa.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.