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Families say hearts will never be whole



Published: Sun, September 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By JoANNE VIVIANO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

On Sept. 11, John Koborie will do something he does every day: He'll take an evening walk through Becky's Garden in Buhl Farm Park, Hermitage.

At 9:43 a.m., Jacqueline Lynch will watch a U.S. flag be raised on a new pole at Youngstown State University.

The reasons for their plans are the same. Koborie and Lynch each lost a loved one when terrorists plowed two hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center towers and one into the Pentagon last year.

A year later, as the rest of the nation moves forward and wounds begin to heal, these victims say their hearts will never be whole again.

"It's been sinking in for me from the very first day," Koborie said. "It never left us. It's just like it happened yesterday. ... It never goes away."

Rebecca Koborie, 48, of New Jersey, was the oldest of four children for John and Julianne Koborie of Sharon. She was working for Marsh Inc. Insurance Agencies on the 97th floor of the North Tower, the first tower hit. The plane crashed between the 96th and 103rd floors.

Terence M. Lynch, 49, of Arlington, Va., was killed at the Pentagon. He was doing consulting work for Booz Allen Hamilton. He is a 1970 graduate of Ursuline High school. His wife, the former Jacqueline Frechko, known as Jackie, graduated from Austintown Fitch High School in 1971.

She celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last month without him.

She's glad the past year is almost over, she said. "This has been, for everybody, a very hard year. There's been a lot going on. For the most part, we haven't been able to grieve. ... We haven't been able to grasp it."

Lynch has attended several Sept. 11 memorial dedications like the one planned for YSU.

The event will begin at 9:43 a.m. -- the time that American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

She hasn't gone back to work at Science Application International Companies, not far from where her husband worked.

She's been too busy pulling herself out of bed and lobbying on Capitol Hill, attending support meetings and working on projects to memorialize her husband.

Still, she misses her husband "every single day of the week," mostly in the afternoons. Mornings are busy, she said. But afternoons, around 4 p.m., is when he would call her at work to see how her day went. He'd tell her when he'd be ready to leave and phone her every half-hour until then.

They drove home together.

"When I look down at the steps of my door, I always picture him smiling, walking up the steps with a paper in his hand."

Garden memorial

Becky's Garden, in the arboretum at Buhl Farm Park, was dedicated Labor Day.

It is near the Koborie home and atop a hill where Koborie used to take his bundled-up daughter sledding as a child.

At the dedication, a friend asked, "John, how are you?"

"Not much to brag about," the father answered, "but I'm all right."

The six Whitespire birches were donated by Rebecca's brothers, nieces and nephew. Dozens of bushes, including Nearly Wild rose, Anthony Waterer spiraea and Miss Kim lilac plants, extend in rows across the garden. Other trees were donated by her former husband, an uncle and neighbors of the Kobories.

Koborie said his daughter was always working in her garden and "really made it a beautiful place."

When offered a hug at the dedication, he took it appreciatively.

"Lord knows I need them," he said.

Lynch family

Lynch said she and her husband had planned to travel together when their daughters, Tiffany, 23, and Ashley, 18, were grown. They had joked that the girls would never be able to find them.

"Well, the joke was on me," she said. "I'm not going to have my husband to travel with. I didn't have him to celebrate our 25th anniversary. ... Our big goal of retiring in five years and building a bed-and-breakfast will never happen."

Tiffany lives at home but is moving out soon and has "good days and bad days," her mother said.

Ashley has just moved to attend classes at the University of New Mexico. The past year was difficult as she finished her senior year and worked to keep her grades up.

"We could lay in bed on days we didn't want to get out of bed," Lynch said of herself and Tiffany. "But [Ashley] had to get up and go to school."

Ashlee's parents had gotten up early that day, and she hadn't seen her father before he left for work.

The daughters will attend some Pentagon events Sept. 11. But they have chosen to skip the mass burial of remaining body parts at Arlington National Cemetery.

Terry Lynch and Rebecca Koborie are among about a half-dozen victims with ties to the Mahoning and Shenango valleys.

Other victims

Also lost was Catherine Salter, 36. The 1982 Wellsville High School graduate worked as an office manager for the Anon Corp. law firm on the 92nd floor of the South Tower.

Her mother, Eleanor Salter, lives in Rogers and plans to be in New York City with family Sept. 11. She didn't want to be interviewed for this story but told a Vindicator reporter last year: "It's like somebody took everything out of me. I don't feel whole anymore."

Peter and Betty Fetchet of Liberty Township mourn the loss of the oldest of their five grandchildren, Brad Fetchet, 25, of Connecticut, who worked as a broker for Keefe, Bruyette & amp; Woods Inc. on the 89th floor of the South Tower when it was hit.

He had called his father, the Fetchets' son, Frank, telling him: "Dad, I'm out of here."

Frank Fetchet, a Liberty native, graduated from Ursuline High School and Youngstown State University. His family now lives in New Canaan, Conn.

The elder Fetchets spoke with a Vindicator reporter about their loss but reconsidered, asking that their comments not be reported. It would only add to their grief, they said. That's the same reason they'll leave their television turned off Sept. 11, they added.

Remembering her life

In her parents' Sharon home, a portrait of a smiling Rebecca Koborie sits next to her piano. The 1971 graduate of Sharon High School was a singer and musician who was in the process of cutting a professional CD.

Her friends and family members still wear red, white and blue ribbons and buttons with her picture that say "Remember Her Life." Koborie said he and his wife still, sometimes, expect her to come for a visit.

They try to keep busy, visiting their other children and grandchildren. Koborie volunteers with Meals on Wheels and at a local hospital.

"We'll be going with the rest of the people, forward," he said. "But our thoughts will never leave us."

Friends often bring up thoughts of his daughter, and Koborie said it's not easy, but he always answers.

"We appreciate people asking," he said. "I don't get tired of everybody asking, because if I get tired of everybody asking, then I get tired of Rebecca. And I'll never get tired of Rebecca."

On Sept. 11, he and his wife will spend the day at home.

"We've been invited to a couple places for memorials," he said, "but we can only attend so many, and my wife doesn't want to go anywhere because she takes it so hard. It's been a rough year."

Terry Lynch's parents, Thomas and Cathleen Lynch of Northville, Mich., will drive to Youngstown to be with their daughter-in-law at the dedication Sept. 11. One of Terry's sisters, Kate Miller of Massillon, also will attend. Terry was the second of six children.

Cathleen Lynch said they have been to a "lot of memorials this year."

"I'm looking forward to closure with this one," she said.

Cathleen, Thomas, Terry and Jackie all graduated from YSU.

"It's been a very tough time. I'm sure it's been a very tough time for a lot of people who experienced the same thing. This is going to be hard on Wednesday too, I'm sure. ...

" ... It's hard to lose a child. I think it's one of the hardest things in the world. But we do what we can."

Press attention

Jackie Lynch said the press has been "hounding her" this past week.

"That happens to almost all the families," she said. "Everybody just wants to write something or talk about something, and they care about us. "I understand that, but it gets tiring."

The constant press coverage of the attacks has made healing more difficult for Koborie.

"It doesn't make it easy," he said. "Anytime somebody mentions that, it brings back more memories, and it reminds us a lot about Becky."

He said the couple receives countless calls from the press as well as inquiries from New Jersey and New York, from groups asking for suggestions on how they should remember Rebecca.

As for the Twin Tower memorial, Koborie said: "I've not done very well with that."

"I'm just trying to put it behind me," he said. "To tell the truth, we don't care what they do because nothing can bring her back." He decided against going to New York City on Wednesday because "I can't hold my emotions." Rebecca's brother will go instead.

Jackie Lynch said she's heading home to escape "the politics of the Pentagon" and the "petty behavior." She said she's been fighting to have families included in events and their planning. Earlier in the year she fought for financial compensation for families; some military families received nothing.

"Being in Ohio is the right place to be," she said. " ... Plus it would have been what Terry would have wanted me to do."

As for Koborie, Sept. 11 means he'll take his evening walk past the trees and bushes in Becky's Garden.

"I say hello to her, goodnight to her, and I go home," he said. "That's all we can do now, just speak to her spirit."

viviano@vindy.com




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