CLARENCE, N.Y – Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday to remember a Sept. 11 widow killed in a commuter plane crash and the owner of the suburban Buffalo home that was destroyed by the crash.
The two were among the 50 people who died when Flight 3407 from Newark, N.J., fell from the sky as it approached the Buffalo airport on Feb. 12, killing all 49 people aboard and a man who was in the house.
Beverly Eckert, 57, was aboard the Continental Connection turboprop on her way to her hometown to celebrate what would have been the 58th birthday of her late husband Sean Rooney.
Bill Bourque, her brother-in-law, said in a Buffalo church that Eckert carried the grief of Rooney's death in the burning World Trade Center by becoming a prominent advocate for the families of the Sept. 11 victims.
"She was not in it to be a hero," he said. "She was in it so that this would not happen to anyone ever again. ... She did what she set out to do. We love you Beverly."
Another service, in an auditorium at the Clarence Middle School that Douglas Wielinski's four daughters attended, honored the owner of the two-story house who died when the plane fell on the Clarence home.
Wielinski's wife, Karen, and their 22-year-old daughter, Jill, survived with minor injuries by crawling through a hole in the wreckage. A house next door also was damaged.
"The pain is great, but the memories are greater and the love will remain," Karen Wielinski said in a message read by a friend at the service.
Bill Wielinski recalled his 61-year-old brother's frugality, especially his delight in finding a discounted pair of jeans for $3 that he wore on the night he died.
"It makes me happy to know that he took them with him," he said.