Families work hard to keep memories of loved ones alive
The families have established a foundation and donated in the victims' honor.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
Not a day passes when Jackie Lynch of Poland doesn't think about her husband, Terry, who died in the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon five years ago.
"I loved Terry so much it hurts," she said. "I can still hear his voice. At some time in my day, every day, his name comes up in conversation."
Time also hasn't healed the wound for John and Julianne Koborie of Sharon, Pa.
Their eldest child, Rebecca, 48, was an executive secretary for insurance company Marsh & amp; McLellan, working on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center five years ago. She died when the planes hijacked by terrorists struck the towers.
"It never gets easier," John said. "I think about her every day."
A photograph of Rebecca hangs in his bedroom and he says goodnight and good morning to her each day.
"She didn't deserve to die like that," he said. "It should have been me who died."
Lynch plans to commemorate the five-year anniversary at a ceremony conducted at Youngstown State University, both Jackie and Terry's alma mater.
John Koborie has spent each anniversary in New York, marking the somber occasion with the private ceremony for families. He hasn't decided yet whether he'll make the trip this year.
The Koborie family donated to Buhl Park to create a garden in Rebecca's memory. A brick-paved walkway leads from the road to rows of trees and flowers, one donated by each of Rebecca's three siblings.
John walks in Becky's Garden each day.
"It helps me feel closer to her," he said.
The Lynch family's story
For Lynch, afternoons are more difficult because while she and Terry were both working in Virginia, they would ride home from work together. About 4 p.m. each day when his meetings were breaking up, he'd begin calling so they could plan when each would be done for the day and they could begin the drive home.
Lynch's last conversation with her husband of 24 years occurred similarly.
Terry was to take their daughter to a doctor's appointment that afternoon. He and Jackie planned to have lunch before the appointment.
Terry worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a worldwide consulting company with offices in Virginia. He was in a meeting on the second floor of the Pentagon that morning. The meeting ran late. The plane hit.
He was burned alive. Lynch is grateful that at least her husband's remains were identifiable. Family members of others who perished weren't so fortunate.
Terry had called his wife upon going into the meeting and told her that he would pick her up for lunch about 11:30 a.m.
When Lynch learned that a plane hit the Pentagon, she called one of his co-workers, asking if Terry and his co-workers had arrived at the meeting. The co-worker didn't know anything.
About 1 p.m., someone from the company told Lynch that people had seen her husband walking around after the plane hit. About a half-hour later, one of Terry's co-workers picked her up, took her home and advised her to start calling hospitals.
"By about 10 that evening, we knew that he'd been killed," Lynch said.
The Kobories' story
Although they spoke by telephone each week, the Kobories last saw their daughter in May 2001. She had come home to check on her father, who had heart surgery that February.
Rebecca had lived in New York and New Jersey for several years, but she still sought her parents' advice often, about financial decisions, career and personal issues.
"That's not to say that she always took it," Julianne chuckled.
The morning of Rebecca's death, the Kobories were working around the house when they got a call from one of their sons, who told them that the building where his sister worked had been struck. They turned on the television and then called Becky at home.
"We were hoping that she had stayed home that day," Julianne said.
She had taken time off the previous Friday and Monday but returned that Tuesday because she needed to be in the office when her boss was on an overseas conference call. Her parents believe she was at work only about 15 minutes that morning when the plane hit.
Julianne hopes that her daughter died instantly, but not knowing for sure troubles her husband.
"When I think about it, I can hear her saying, 'Dad, help me,'" he said.
The couple traveled to New York that week, looking for their daughter.
"We heard that there were people at some of the hospitals that couldn't tell people who they were," Koborie said. "I wanted to find her, to bring her home. We never did find her."
Came back to Valley
Lynch decided to return to the Mahoning Valley in late 2002 after events during two separate visits to Youngstown seemed to be sending her a sign.
The May 2002 day she went to spread Terry's ashes in Youngstown, it rained.
"As we were getting ready to spread his ashes the rain stopped, the clouds broke and the sun started shining," she said.
The same thing happened at the one-year Sept. 11 anniversary when a memorial in Terry's honor was dedicated at YSU. The rain stopped and the sun shone.
"I decided that was it," Lynch said. "He was happy to be home and I decided, I'm going to be with him."
Lynch believes the government's handling of security measures since that day are insufficient. She advocates airport security checking all parcels for dangerous materials, not just carry-on luggage. She attributes the limited response to cost.
Koborie isn't sure anything can prevent another attack. "If they want to do something badly enough, they'll find a way to do it," he said of terrorists.
Both families try to keep their loved one's memories alive.
The Kobories keep a book of the notes and cards they received from people whose lives Rebecca touched.
"Everybody liked her," Koborie said.
"She was a very huggable person," his wife added.
The notes talk about Rebecca's selflessness, her love of life and her patience with others, they said. One that stands out in Koborie's mind is from a high school classmate of Rebecca's. She graduated from Sharon High School in 1971.
"It says that she was thankful to have known Becky because she helped her when she was going through a hard time," he said.
They plan to donate to the park each year to enhance the garden in their daughter's memory. Her parents chose the park because Rebecca spent a lot of time there as a child. She went sled-riding there, performed in plays and learned to dive in the pool.
"Becky loved to garden," Julianne Koborie said. "Even when she had an apartment in Manhattan, she had oodles of flowers."
Besides symbolizing one of Rebecca's hobbies, gardens also embody life. "A garden in a strange way is like everlasting life," Koborie said.
Helping her cope
For Lynch, keeping busy helps her cope. She established a scholarship at YSU for history majors. Terry majored in history and was a 1970 Ursuline High School graduate; his wife graduated from Austintown Fitch in 1971.
The Lynches' daughters, Tiffany Marie, 27, of Virginia, and Ashley Nicole, 22, of Albuquerque, N.M., wanted to memorialize their father, too. They and their mother established a program to send children to Space Camp -- a program Terry had been involved with before he died.
Pupils write an essay or design a poster about a selected topic dealing with space. The first year, participants were asked to describe what a colony on Mars would look like. Winners spend time at Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.
Lynch also started the Terry Lynch Foundation, an organization for pediatric rheumatalogical diseases. Ashley, the Lynchs' youngest daughter, suffered from juvenile arthritis and nearly died three times as a young child while doctors worked to perfect her medication.
After returning to the area, Jackie was invited to the special-needs prom conducted annually by the Mahoning County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. While in college, Terry drove a bus for MRDD.
The first year, she cried. She remembered Terry talking about the children and how he enjoyed driving the bus.
"I decided that we should just take care of the prom, do it in Terry's memory," Lynch said.
She thinks her many efforts would please her husband.
"I think my husband is happy about that -- that I'm not sitting around feeling sorry for myself," she said. "Doing this makes me happy."