Amanda Ripley

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Remembering Beverly: A 9/11 Widow’s Legacy

13th Feb 2009 posted in Disaster Behavior

I was stunned to see Beverly looking back at me when I logged onto CNN today. There she was, a portrait in a list of the dead from the Colgan Air crash near Buffalo, NY, last night.  It turns out that Beverly Eckert, one of the most fearless of the 9/11 widows, and the woman I think about whenever I think about the victims of 9/11, was on the plane, among the 50 people killed in the still mysterious crash.

I met Beverly less than a year after 9/11. I was working on a story for Time Magazine about the government’s excruciating effort to calculate the financial worth of each of the dead. We went out to lunch at a place she knew in Connecticut. We ordered pizza, and she ate not a single bite. She told me the story of how her husband had called her from the top of the Towers, repeatedly.

“I listened to him realize he was going to die,” she said. Sean had climbed the stairs to the roof, only to discover that it was locked. He called her multiple times. He was confused, furious and then terrified, and she had been left permanently so—or at least that is how it seemed back then. Pain literally radiated from this woman.

She would not take government payouts, she told me. She would sue, fight, argue, do whatever it took to remind people of the way the love of her life had been stolen from her. Beverly went on to help found an advocacy group for the families called Voices of Sept. 11. She fought until the day she died. May she rest in peace, at last.