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Malissa Y. White
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Malissa White

She Lived Her Life With a Generous Spirit
October 8, 2001

When Malissa White, 37, left her tiny hometown of Bald Knob, Ark., for New York City, she came with a plan.

"She thought when she got up there, she would feed all the homeless," said her mother, Bertha White. "I said, 'You cannot feed all those people.'"

Malissa, who worked in the human resources department of Marsh & McLennan on the 99th floor of Tower One, was lost in the Sept. 11 attack.

Though Malissa's charitable goals may have been overly ambitious, it was this generosity of spirit that made her daughter who she was, said her mother, and there are many stories that show it.

There was, for instance, the White family Christmas tree that a 10-year-old White gave away to a family that couldn't afford one just days before Christmas. After her initial shock, her mother said, "It kind of made me see what Christmas was all about. It wasn't about trees and toys."

Then there was the furniture and household items that Malissa routinely needed to replace when she was away at Grambling State College in Louisiana. When her mother asked why, Malissa replied, "Momma, I gave them to the poor down there," her mother remembered.

"I said, 'We are poor!'" her mother recalled with a laugh. "'We aren't rich.'"

This didn't stifle Malissa's giving spirit. On another occasion, her mother remembers Malissa returning penniless from college on Mother's Day.

"She came home with two arms of flowers," her mother said. "I said, 'Where did you get them?' and she said, 'From the flower shop.' ... Then, when she left, I got a bill from the flower shop!"

Malissa was deeply religious and continued to attend Calvary Baptist Church in Brooklyn, where she lived with her husband, Wakeland Higgins. As well as teaching Sunday school, she was a greeter and a mentor to children in the congregation.

"She knew that whatever happened in her life that the Lord would take care of her, and she knew that without a doubt," her mother said. "And I know without a doubt that wherever she is, that the Lord has his arms around her."

In the wake of the terrorist attacks, Bertha White is trying to remember her daughter's words.

"Whenever people would do her wrong, I would be angry," she said. "She would say, 'Mom - let go of it.'" --Indrani Sen (Newsday)

-Anonymous
 Added: Dec. 5, 2001
 
 
 
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