Meta L. Waller
Hometown: Alexandria, Va., USA
Occupation: Civilian employee, U.S. Army
Location: Ground, Pentagon
"Meta was named after her grandmother, Meta Warrick Fuller [1877-1968], who was a famous sculptor. As the only granddaughter out of seven grandchildren, she was very proud to be named after her famous grandmother. This piece is called 'Veiled Future,' and it was a favorite of Meta's. Like her namesake, Meta was sensitive to the political and social tragedies of contemporary African American life and her absence is deeply felt by many." -- Chrislan Fuller Manuel, niece
When 60-year-old Meta Waller returned from the World Conference on Racism, she told her family it had changed her life.
Waller attended the conference with a group of schoolchildren, taking time off from her work at the Pentagon, where she was special programs manager for the administrative assistant to the secretary of the Army. She had worked there 12 years and was at her desk when the hijacked airliner slammed into the building.
Long interested in the civil rights movement, Waller looked for inspiration to her two famous grandparents, Meta Warrick Fuller, an African American sculptor, and Solomon Carter Fuller, the first African American psychiatrist in the United States.
Waller collected her grandmother's sculptures and tried her own hand at art. She was also a poet; her niece, Chrislan F. Manuel, said the family is trying to collect her poems.
Carol Fuller, Waller's sister-in-law, said she was a gifted storyteller. Family trips to Martha's Vineyard prompted Waller to create a series of science fiction stories about fellow ferry passengers from other planets who traveled to the Vineyard disguised as day-trippers.
"There, that one could be from Pluto," she would say.
Waller was a world traveler. Her niece and sister-in-law loved taking all-girl vacations with her, including a cherished one recently to the British Virgin Islands.
Waller grew up in Framingham, Mass., and received her undergraduate degree from Wayne State University and her master's degree in government from Harvard.
Relatives said they are gaining strength by remembering Waller's resolve in the face of sorrow, including the death of her husband and daughter.
"This is a woman who has had a lot of tragedy in her life. But she went on. She continued to work -- and she was successful," Fuller said.
-- Rosalind S. Helderman
Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com
The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.
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