David McCourt, whose wife, Ruth, and their 4-year-old daughter Juliana were aboard one of the United Airlines flights that were downed by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, died Thursday.
McCourt, formerly of New London, died at Connecticut Hospice in Branford, from metastatic melanoma.
Ruth and Juliana were aboard Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles to meet Ruth's best friend Paige Farley Hackel on Sept. 11. There, the two women were going to surprise Julianna with a trip to Disneyland. The McCourts' plane struck the south tower of the World Trade Center while Hackel's plane hit the north tower. Ruth McCourt's brother was in the north tower but managed to escape.
After the terrorist attacks, David McCourt, who worked in his family business ABCO Welding Supply before retiring to Florida in 2011, began to speak publicly about tolerance, the meaning of life and other topics.
In a talk he gave at Temple Emanu-El in Waterford in 2002, McCourt said that his wife and daughter died because some countries teach their children to hate.
"What we have do is to start with the children in this country and teach them tolerance, compassion and understanding," he said.
McCourt helped found B.R.A.V.E. Juliana, a program of HELP USA, to teach nonviolence and conflict resolution to children.
He also appeared on network television shows and with alternative medicine guru and best-selling authority Deepak Choprah.
"Needless to say I was devastated. It's been a journey of spiritual awakening to go from where I was. If you don't have the spiritual awakening, you don't survive," McCourt said in 2002.
In a 2004 interview after the federal 911 Commission released its report, McCourt said, "Juliana and Ruth were goodness, purity and innocence. The evil that befell them an hour after entering the plane represents the eternal juxtaposition of those two immutable forces: living in God's light versus committing evil acts against human souls."
David and his current wife, Mary Bryant McCourt, who he married in 2011, founded the Juliana Valentine McCourt Children's Education Fund. The McCourt Memorial Garden was also created at the Lyman Allen Museum.
Beside his wife, he leaves twin sons, Tavis and Stephen McCourt; two daughters, Elizabeth Smith and Kathy Paine; nine grandchildren; and his sister, Mary (McCourt) Sheffield.