15 February 2009

Beverly Eckert: a life lived with love and purpose

In media reports, the poignant details about Beverly's life and the things she would have done had she lived keep emerging in bittersweet portions. 

On Friday, Tom Brokaw painted a warm, thoughtful and inspiring portrait of Beverly, in the regular NBC Nightly News segment, "Making a Difference." Brokaw called Beverly's last conversation with Sean "haunting and heartbreaking," and the veteran newsman, who had interviewed Beverly and kept in touch with her over the years, walks viewers though Beverly's long, loving relationship with Sean, the events of that terrible morning, and Beverly's new life afterward. It is painful to see Beverly's anguished face describing her moment of loss, but uplifting and even joyful to watch a parade of Beverly's old family photos, and videos of her 9-11 activism. Brokaw at his best.

One of Beverly's incredible qualities was to easily make a personal connection with a total stranger in a matter of minutes. Upon learning of Beverly's death, journalist Michael Howerton recounted how Beverly comforted him as he began to cry during an interview not long after 9-11 in which Beverly talked about her last conversation with Sean. It is a beautiful, brave and honest piece of writing. Yesterday, the Stamford Advocate reprinted the Sept. 19, 2001 article Howerton had written after his emotional interview with Beverly.

Today, Beverly would have been celebrating Sean's 57th birthday with family and friends in Buffalo. A Buffalo News article by Maki Becker and Steven T. Watson gives other details of Beverly's past and plans for her future. Kathleen Delaney, a close friend of Beverly's from their days at Sacred Heart Academy, was going to have Beverly over for "pizza and wine and lively conversation" on Friday, the day after her planned arrival, according to the article. The two women and other classmates were then going to talk about their 40th reunion at a dinner planned for last night. Sacred Heart officials were planning to present Beverly herself with the 2009 Distinguished Alumna award in May. Now, the award will be posthumous. 

Margot Eckert, of Springfield, MA, said she of all Beverly's four siblings spent the most time with Beverly. In an interview with Springfield's WWLP, Margot said of Beverly, "She was absolutely fearless in talking to authority, talking clearly, talking plainly, and she was an example to all of us that one person can make a difference."

Beverly's two other sisters (Karen Eckert and Susan Bourque) and her brother, Ray Eckert, appear in this brief but edifying interview with Don Postles of Buffalo's WIVB-TV. In telephone conversations with Beverly, before her trip to Buffalo, Karen Eckert said, "There was just laughter in her voice talking all the time throughout the week, what we were going to do and how we were going to do it." They talked about her courage, about the way Sean's courage in the face of death inspired Beverly, and how Beverly's resolve gave them strength.

One of Beverly's longest-lasting relationships among the 9-11 activists was with Mary Fetchet, with whom she co-founded the advocacy group Voices of September 11th in October 2001. Sheyenne Rodriguez of WTVD-TV, Raleigh-Duham, NC, put together a very nice video segment in which Fetchet pays tribute to her departed friend. A fuller video report, which contains more of Mary Fetchet's comments, can be found on abcnews.com and typing "remembering beverly eckert" in the search box.

1 comment:

Obi-Wandreas, The Funky Viking said...

Thank you for posting those video links. I am currently compiling a good deal of this video for distribution to the family, so that they can watch these things in peace at a later date. Having this list has been a big help.

I have posted a link to your blog on my own. I have been touched by the number of people who have left messages as comments on my story on Sean from the 2996 Project. It is truly amazing to see how many lives she touched. Again, you have my thanks, and I'm sure also those of her family.