29 April 2009

Three Friends Recalled the Best of Beverly on Larry King's Show

I have just come across a transcript of the show Larry King did on Feb. 13, 2009, the day after the Buffalo plane crash, in which he spoke to friends of some of the victims. Here is the portion with warm reminiscences by three of Beverly's oldest friends: Kathleen Delaney, Carol Bauda and Kathy Matthews.

[Kathleen Delaney has kindly pointed out some errors in the original transcript. They are noted in brackets below. Also, Carol Bauda's last name was misspelled in the original transcript, but is now corrected here.]

KING: An extraordinary lady died on that flight. She was Beverly Eckert. Three of her friends join us now from Buffalo -- Kathleen Delaney, a very close friend of the victim. Carol Bauda, who was one of her oldest friends. They met in kindergarten. And Kathy Matthews, as well.

Beverly was -- how extraordinary, she became an active -- advocate for the victims after 9/11.



BEVERLY ECKERT, 9/11 WIDOW: It's hard to turn around and see the whole in the skyline where my husband's building used to be. If this bill doesn't pass, I don't think I'll ever -- I don't think I'll ever be able to go back there. I think I'll be too ashamed.


KING: All right, Kathleen DeLaney, tell us about Beverly.

What was she like?

KATHLEEN DELANEY, KNEW CRASH VICTIM BEVERLY ECKERT: Well, I had the fortune of sitting in front of Beverly pretty much my entire high school career because we were alphabetically arranged. And she was -- she was just always a lot of fun to be around. She instigated a lot of pranks. But she was just -- she was just a wonderful person who knew her mind and -- which I think is one of the things that this high school that we attended, Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, really, really promoted.

We -- this was an all girls' school. And at the time when we were in school, it was just a good, solid place for young women who may not have had the opportunity had they been in another type of a school to develop their leadership roles.

KING: Carol, you go...


KING: Carol, you go back to kindergarten right?

CAROL BAUDA, KNEW CRASH VICTIM BEVERLY ECKERT: Yes, we went to grammar school together, kindergarten, high school. And we were thick as thieves right along. And we got into mischief together. And Bev was just so much fun. She had so much energy and she was very creative. People don't know that she was an excellent artist, painter and potter and just so creative. We had a lot of fun together. Very close.

KING: Kathy Mathews, how well did you know her?

KATHLEEN MATHEWS, KNEW CRASH VICTIM BEVERLY ECKERT: I knew her through the four years at Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart and some years beyond into adulthood. I saw her, you know, fairly recently, as well.

I knew her as one of the bright lights in our class. She was the person who drew a lot of friends to her. And she was -- in a girls' school, sometimes it could be cliquey and different. But Bev was one of the people who was sort of an equal opportunity friend. A lot of people truly got to know her well and we think of her fondly.

KING: She just met with President Obama a week ago. He paid tribute to her today.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, tragic events such as these remind us of the fragility of life and the value of every single day. One person who understood that well was Beverly Eckert, who was on that flight and who I met with just a few days ago.

Now, you see, Beverly lost her husband on 9/11 and became a tireless advocate for those families whose lives were forever changed on that September day. And in keeping with that passionate commitment, she was on her way to Buffalo to mark what would have been her husband's birthday and launch a scholarship in his memory.

So she was an inspiration to me and to so many others. And I pray that her family finds peace and comfort in the hard days ahead.


KING: Kathleen, are you surprised that she became the advocate she became?

[DELANEY instead of MATHEWS]: Oh, no. As a matter of fact, when I was going through some things today, I found a clipping from 1967. She won a Voice of Democracy Contest here. And I think I -- I must not have won because that's why I kept it.

But I talked to Bev Wednesday night. She was coming into town for Sean's scholarship. And she was due to have had dinner at our house tonight. And I asked her about meeting Obama. And she said to -- she immediately told me, I'll tell you all about it Friday night. But she let me know that she was scanning a napkin that she had pinched from underneath his water bottle. And this morning -- this morning I had that e-mail that she had sent off to me. And there it was -- the presidential seal on a napkin.

So she...

KING: Carol, did she...

MATHEWS: That was the type of -- she loved saving things.

KING: Carol, did she have children?

BAUDA: No. She did not have children, but she had nephews and a niece. And so they were very close to her. She was the fun aunt that they all loved to be with.

KING: And her life had changed.

She had a boyfriend now, didn't she?

BAUDA: Yes, uh-huh.

KING: Were they planning...

BAUDA: He is a wonderful guy.

KING: Were they planning to get married? BAUDA: Oh, not at this point, I don't think. But, you know, he's just -- he was very, you know, a very loving person to her and very understanding of the things she had to go through for what she had to do politically.

MATHEWS: She was trying to move on with her life as best she could while always, always revering Sean's legacy.

KING: Any funeral plans that you know of, ladies?

BAUDA: Not at this point.


KING: Well, this is the hardest thing in the world, not just to lose a relative, but to lose a friend.

Quickly, we have -- what will you remember the most, Kathleen?

[DELANEY, not MATHEWS]: Oh, just -- just Bev. I mean, she's -- she was just all present. And one of the things that really struck me, especially after Sean died, was just how close she brought all of us together. She was always concerned for us. And when we were trying to make calls today, she was the one who had the phone numbers, so we were lost.

KING: Carol, what will you remember?

BAUDA: Her boundless energy. It's just amazing. Every time I spoke with her, she was flying off one place or another, on some committee, this committee, all over. And whether it was the scholarship fund or memorials, even in her own hometown or here, it was just amazing, her energy level.

KING: And, Kathy, what will you remember the most?

[MATHEWS, not DELANEY: I'll remember her quick intellect and her creativeness and mostly I'm going to remember how steadfastly she pursued justice for the victims and the families from 9/11.

KING: Yes.

She was an amazing woman.

Thank you all, ladies.

We appreciate this.

27 April 2009

Family and Friends Plant a Tree for Beverly

On a warm and sunny spring day in Stamford, some 50 family, friends and well-wishers of Beverly Eckert gathered to remember, to dedicate, to say words of praise. Some earth was turned, the roots of a Princeton elm were nestled in a new home, and those gathered took some quiet time to recall a life whose wide-reaching, generous branches touched so many.

Sarah Lipman of the Stamford Advocate reported on some of the comments. The principal of the school where Beverly had volunteered as a tutor, Stark Elementary, Mary Savage, said the school was "proud and honored" to have had Beverly involved in the life of the school's community. Susan Bourque, one of Beverly's sisters, said, "Beverly would have loved this tree. It is a symbol of beauty, strength, character and renewal -- like our sister, Beverly." John DaRosa of the Jackie Robinson Park of Fame group likened Beverly's community contributions to those of the park's namesake, saying everyone should follow Jackie's and Beverly's example of helping their fellow man.

[Beverly's friend, Nada Radulovich, holds a shovel in the photo above; Susan Bourque appears above right. Photos: Chris Preovolos]

20 April 2009

A tree grows in Stamford: Remembering Beverly on Arbor Day

The Advocate of Stamford reports that an elm tree will be planted this Arbor Day, April 24, in Jackie Robinson Park to honor the memory of Beverly Eckert. John DaRosa is a member of the group which cares for the park. His group first worked with Beverly when a flag and flagpole honoring 9/11 victims and families was donated to the park by Woodmen of the World, a fraternal organization. He said his group had been thinking of ways to honor Beverly's memory, and decided to use the planting of the tree to accomplish this. The tree is being donated by the Stamford Tree Foundation.

At the 11 a.m. ceremony on Friday, a tree will be planted for a woman who loved to enjoy the outdoors, who planted a number of trees in the memory of her husband, Sean, and who worked tirelessly to make make the world a safer place.

This is one of the ways we remember. 

10 April 2009

Beverly's letter to Obama: A simple and direct call for justice

There are several bizarre and unfounded notions about Beverly Eckert's views and actions floating around in cyberspace. I have read, for example, that at her Feb. 6 meeting with President Obama, she was supposed to have asked him to establish another 9/11 commission to finish the job left undone by the original one. Like other examples of such internet hogwash, this one can be easily discredited by perusing the facts. Beverly never called for another investigation once the 9/11 commission released its final report. Instead, she and her colleagues worked tirelessly to have the report's recommendations implemented. Two of the main 9/11-related issues which did occupy her time were supporting the work of the WMD Commission and pressing for the closure of the Guantanamo dention facilities, ending the military commission tribunals, and bringing the terror suspects to trial.

After her meeting with Obama, Beverly gave me a detailed account of the meeting, its genesis, and a copy of the letter she handed to one of the president's aides at the meeting. Here it is, simple and direct:

February 6, 2009

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

RE: Justice Not Vengeance

Dear Mr. President,

On 9/11, my husband was killed by terrorists. The self-confessed mastermind of the plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has been in US custody for several years. Along with other 9/11 families, I want to see him, and his alleged co-conspirators, face their accusers in a court of law. I fervently hope there is independent, irrefutable, corroborating evidence that can be used by the prosecution to achieve legitimate convictions. But I have a sickening fear that the over-zealous actions of US officials, through use of torture and other illegal tactics, have tainted the evidence by which those responsible for 9/11 would otherwise be convicted. If that proves to be the case, it would be the ultimate, unspeakable injustice.

When confronted with defendants accused of crimes against humanity on the scale of September 11th, the depth of our nation’s commitment to the principle of justice is severely tested. I believe, Mr. President, that under your moral guidance and with your profound respect for the rule of law, America can pass this test.

There is a saying that justice delayed is justice denied. I believe that you have the courage to take the difficult but necessary steps that will allow the rule of law to finally take its course. To this end, I ask that you release the Guantanamo detainees against whom there are no prosecutable charges and bring the rest to trial on American soil. I beg you to proceed with urgency and determination where others have faltered. Let justice, not vengeance, at long last be served.

Respectfully yours,

Beverly Eckert

Widow of Sean Rooney, WTC