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Benny Polacca, Published September 12 2007

A living memorial

Robert A. Rasmussen spent much of his professional life working and living in the Midwest and on the East Coast while raising his family.

A tree was dedicated in the North Dakota State University graduate’s memory Tuesday at fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s house in Fargo, six years after Rasmussen died. He was a Sigma Alpha Epsilon alumnus.

Rasmussen, 42, was among the hundreds killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York City.

The Hunter, N.D., native was on the 78th floor of one of the World Trade Center towers when a hijacked commercial airliner crashed into it, causing the building to collapse.

“It means a lot to us,” Elizabeth Protextor, Rasmussen’s mother, told a group of fraternity members gathered at the tree dedication. She thanked the fraternity for its support and helped plant a small blue spruce tree at the fraternity’s house on 16th Street North.

“His death has created a big void in our family,” said Rasmussen’s stepfather, the Rev. Jerry Protextor. “We try to spend as much time as possible with (Rasmussen’s) kids. It’s a challenge for us.”

Rasmussen, a regional sales manager for Vestek, was in the World Trade Center tower that day for a business meeting. He lived with his wife, Anna Worner, and their three children in Hinsdale, Ill., while he worked in Vestek’s Chicago office.

Worner – who met Rasmussen while she also attended NDSU – has since remarried and still lives in the Chicago area with her children, Jerry Protextor said.

Rasmussen also worked for Minneapolis-based M.A. Mortenson Construction, Turner construction in Boston and Coopers & Lybrand in New York, Elizabeth Protextor said. Rasmussen received a master’s degree in business administration from New York University.

In wake of Rasmussen’s death, Protextor, a pastor at Fargo’s Peace Lutheran Church, said support for Rasmussen’s family members has been overwhelming. “We have been blessed with a lot of people caring for us.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Benny Polacca at (701) 241-5504