MONTPELIER, Vt. – Sarah "Sally" Goodrich lost her son on Sept. 11. Struggling in 2004 with how to memorialize him with the $49,000 donated to them from family and friends, she and her husband, Donald, helped start a school for girls in Afghanistan.
"The idea that we could go to Afghanistan where the Afghan people were taken advantage of by al-Qaida, manipulated, and where the planning for our son's death took place and provide an alternative way of looking at the world, was very appealing to us," Donald Goodrich said.
Sally Goodrich, a former teacher, died Saturday of cancer at her home in Bennington. She was 65. The E.P. Mahar and Son Funeral Home in Bennington confirmed her death to The Associated Press.
Her 33-year-old son, Peter, was aboard the second plane that hit the World Trade Center in 2001.
The school project grew out of an e-mail from a neighbor, a friend of her late son, who was serving as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan. He wrote about a school that needed supplies, which prompted Sally Goodrich to get involved.
"She was a person who loved humanity. And if there was any love in your soul you would reciprocate with my wife. And that's really what has allowed us to do what we've been able to do," Donald Goodrich said.
David Edwards, a professor of anthropology at Williams College and an Afghanistan expert, at first discouraged Goodrich's idea of starting a school after seeing a lot of well-intentioned projects go awry. But before he knew it, he had agreed to go to Logar province to inspect the school site.
"Sally had a kind of relentlessness to her, and I say that and it sounds like it could be a negative thing. But she had just a quality of determination that was really striking, but also a real sense of humor," he said.
Edwards ended up connecting her with Afghanistan's deputy minister of interior -- his former research assistant. After meeting the provincial director of schools and the director of education, they found a better, safer site for the school, Edwards said. The Goodriches went on to build one for $230,000.
Goodrich had visited Afghanistan numerous times, met struggling Afghanis and regained a sense of hope.
"I found that suffering is a universal language that allows for a greater understanding," she told the AP in 2006.
The Goodriches also helped to bring at least 14 exchange students from Afghanistan to schools including the Berkshire School, many of them staying in their small Vermont home during the summer and holidays. The students have gone on to get scholarships at colleges such as Williams, Mount Holyoke and Bates.
Goodrich is survived by her husband, a daughter and son, three brothers and five grandchildren, according to the funeral home's obituary.