Lest They Be Forgotten

Today is a day of remembrance, compassion and love. Today some of us are sadden and pray silently, some feel blessed and thank God for the ones who serve us, and some feel a fire inside of them with a desire to do something, be something, and feel something. 10 years ago my Aunt Pam felt that fire within her. She was a flight attendant for American Airlines when 9/11 occurred. It became one of her missions to make sure that the Flight Crews lost during that tragic day were not forgotten by holding the Lest They Be Forgotten Luncheon at her house every year on the anniversary. A few weeks ago my Aunt Pam lost her battle with ALS. Although, it was a very sad time for family and friends, her life was celebrated for all the amazing things she accomplished. Below is her eulogy and I do encourage you to read it as it is very touching story of tribulation and inspiration. The following exert is about the luncheon.

“Pam was especially touched and decided in her always kind and compassionate way, the Flight Crews should not be forgotten. Each year for the next five years she hosted a Lest They Be Forgotten Luncheon at her home and her expense. The last luncheon more than 100 flight and ground crew attended. There were active and retired employees from, American, United, TWA, Eastern, Continental, Frontier and more in attendance. “

Hi everyone, thank you for being here. My name is LaMyra Holman Childers. Pamela Richardson Brown was my best friend. This eulogy was a labor of love, although I originally started it for Pam s retirement from American Airlines July 1, 2011.
Pam and I first became friends in August of 1964 (for those of you attempting to do the math in your head, it was just shy of 47 years ago). Pam was in my homeroom and I was new to Harrison High School in Colorado Springs. Coincidentally, we were wearing the same dress but in different colors (what can I say &she liked my taste). If the truth is told every third girl had on the same dress that year, because the Beattles were the rage and so were Liz dresses. They were shirtwaist dresses, long sleeved, with a row of ruffles down the front button placard and were made of small gingham checked cotton. Pam s was red and white and mine was navy and white. Our desks were side by side and thus began our long journey down the road of life next to each other .
Her favorite color was red. Her favorite flowers were Black Eyed Susan s because they made her smile, Carnations because she loved their smell, Sweet Peas because they stirred childhood memories and Geraniums because she carried them for her wedding. She loved to read and was never without a book. Her favorite book was A Town like Alice by Neville Shute. Ironically, it was about a young woman who survived extreme adversity through personal strength and perseverance. She and I would exchange books with each other and we had our own little book club long before it became vogue.
To know Pam was to accept cats. She loved cats as much as she loved books and could rattle off the name of the family cats in rapid succession beginning with Alphie and ending with Zoomie. Yes, 26, not all at once but there were always several at a time. The word was out among the Colorado Springs felines, if a cat wanted a great home they would head to the Richardson house. Later when Pam had her own home there was always a cat or two or five.
Our first summer after graduation she worked as an attendant at Neusteter s parking lot. They wore (what else) red skirts and sweaters. I had started work at the phone company (there was only one back then) and my office was located on the fourth floor of the First National Bank Building directly next to the Neusteter s parking lot. We would have lunch together several times a week. Too many times to count she told me, as soon as she turned 21 (the required age) she planned to become a Stewardess (yes &they were stewardesses back then). True to her word &the day she was old enough she began the task of applying with every airline operating at the time. She was working at King Soopers located in Southgate Shopping Center when as she told the story she looked up and there was her mom, Betty, running in the door, her coat tails flying, waving a paper, and smiling. It had arrived & her acceptance for an interview with American Airlines. Ed Bauer (who is still with American at the age of 75) interviewed her. As he tells the story he hired intelligent young women with engaging personalities and winning smiles . Pam said, The only thing I remember about the interview was Ed covering his name tag half way through and saying what is my name . Pam had remembered his name because we went to high school with a boy named Randy Bauer. I was glad I didn t say Randy but Mr. Bauer instead, because he said Pamela welcome to American Airlines. When she called to tell me she had been hired she said we have to go to Michelle s everyday and eat ice cream because I have to GAIN 6 POUNDS BEFORE I GO TO TRAINING &I AM THAT MUCH UNDER THE WEIGHT QUALIFICATIONS. Needless to say that conversation became of source of many laughs in the years that followed. Our last visit to Michelle s the two of us were joined by Pam s dear friends Janet Morgan Gripe and Whitney Anderson. The four of us consumed a sundae listed on the menu as large enough to feed eight . The next day Pam left for training without her weight having changed by an ounce.
Upon arrival to Dallas the ladies were assigned room mates, four to a room. Of Pam s original room mates one left American to marry, one retired 2 years ago and the fourth one, Beverly Burns left American to become the first female 747 Captain for Continental Airlines. She and Pam have remained friends.
Graduation from the flight school was in Dallas, Texas and Betty pinned Pam s wings on, July 1, 1971. Immediately, she was sent to her base in New York City. Pam LOVED her job. She would write and say, I can t wait to go to work. Her motto became the saying if you do something you love &it will never feel like work.
Long distance calls were too expensive back then so she wrote letters weekly. In one of her letters, she told me she had a peeping Tom the evening before. This puzzled me because she was living on the 25th floor of Waterside Plaza. How could she possibly have a Peeping Tom &.as it turned out she was sitting reading with just a lamp on, enjoying her book when the apartment lit up like daylight. She looked around puzzled and went to the window. Across the Plaza in another high rise, a man with a spotlight was scanning windows of her building and using binoculars to peer in & &.only in New York she wrote.
During her New York days, Pam was seeing Terry Paff. Not long after graduation from the Air Force Academy, he was sent to Viet Nam. At the time, Delora, whom she fondly referred to as Dee was sharing an apartment with her. Terry would occasionally mail gifts to Pam. Pam was never materialistic; practicality and functionality always exceeded appearances. Dee on the other hand was a tall, pretty blond that made an art, of dressing and accessorizing. One evening they were sitting in their apartment visiting when Dee commented on Pam s watch; a tiny, little, Timex with a small black leather band. Dee said, Pam you really need a different watch , to which Pam replied, I like my watch, it s a Timex, you know what they say, it takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Well , Dee replied, you still need a new watch. At this point, Pam said, I do have another watch, that Terry sent me but it feels so much bigger than my little Timex. Dee who knew every quality brand name, of every product on the market, said, Let me see the watch. Pam went to the bedroom and pulled a shoe box from under the bed. She showed the watch to Dee. Pam said, I instantly realized this watch brand I had never heard of must be something special because Dee nearly hyperventilated . Pam Richardson you have gold Rolex with a customized band and you are keeping it in a shoebox under the bed!!! Pam wore the watch everyday from that day on and it was usually her only piece of jewelry.
Mike and I married in 1973 and as one of my bride s maids, there was Pam watching our vows.
She had flown in from San Francisco where she and her new room mate Carol Lord were sharing an apartment. Carol and Pam remained friends all these years. If you haven t noticed a trend yet &.once you became Pam s friend, you had a friend for life.
In 1974, there was a knock on our apartment door and there stood Pam. I was shocked because she had just been home the week before for a visit. Why was she home again? Before I could ask, she said, Myra Doctor Short ran some tests last week when I was home and the results were questionable, so I came back for more tests. Her next comment was like a knock out punch to the head. I have cancer . How could this be, people our age didn t get cancer. Within a couple of days she was in the hospital recovering from surgery. Never one to dwell on the negative she said, When I get out Dr. Short said, walking will help me recover, so we will walk everyday, o.k.?
A few years later, my good friend, Pierette Goodhue, was diagnosed with cancer. Trying to encourage Pierette, I shared the story of my friend Pam s diagnosis of cancer and her cure. Ironically, years later my friend Pierette became friends with Pam, not through me but through this very church and their children s school. Pete as we call her is here today.
It was during one of those walks we talked about Pam not being able to have biological children. Do you think a man will be comfortable marrying me if he knows I can t have children? My reply, If he isn t, then he isn t worthy of you and doesn t deserve to marry you. What about you , I asked. ME ? She asked surprised. I am fine with it, my mom adopted me and I know how I love her and how she loved me. No, I don t have a problem with adoption at all.
In 1977 she met just that man. His name was Bob Brown, like her he loved flying, in fact he proposed to her in the air while piloting a plane. Bob had served as a pilot in Viet Nam and Pam never grew tired of his piloting stories. Pam was thrilled by Bob s large Iowa family. She loved each of her sisters and brothers in-law. The Brown clan as she happily referred to them became her family too. Bob was a hard working, honest, salt of the earth man. If you want to hire a good worker hire an Iowa farm boy she would say many times over the years.
Their wedding was beautiful. A summer wedding at the United States Air Force Academy Community Chapel, red geraniums in clay pots and we brides maids wearing, what else, red dresses. Bob was handsome and Pam was radiant and beautiful.
Knowing they would be adopting children Pam began researching what needed to be done. The ever so organized Pam had files of information. Through a passenger on a flight she heard about Los Posingos Orphanage in Bogota, Colombia. It sounded like a perfect fit. It didn t take long and she and Bob were doing the paper work for an adoption. She called and asked me for a letter of recommendation to be included with their paperwork. I was honored and thrilled to provide the letter. I remember writing, a child in Pam and Bob Brown s home will be blessed with wonderful parents. In May, 1981 a precious little boy soon to be named Donald Miguel came into Pam and Bob s life. It was November 30 when the elated couple finally held their son. In addition too their new baby, they had formed a new friendship with Amparo Escabar, fondly known as Pito . The Escabar family worked closely with Los Posingos Orphanage and also knew the Rubios family that provided foster care for Donald until the adoption finalized. Pito would leave Colombia and visit the Brown s often after Donald s adoption.
Knowing the process would take a while, Pam and Bob immediately began paperwork for another adoption. They had no preference whether it should be a girl or boy, just a baby. Less than two years later, to help speed up the paperwork process, it was Pito who hand carried their documents back to Bogota. Shortly after delivering the paperwork, Pito received a call from the orphanage and was asked to contact the Brown s and let them know they had another baby. A baby girl would soon join the Brown family. Her name would be Ana Christine.
The wonderful Escabar family cared for Ana for eight months until the adoption became final. Pito developed a special attachment to this tiny little baby girl and Pam and Bob s attachment to the Escobar s (especially Pito) deepened. Pamelita, as she became known, called Pito several times a week to check on their new baby. Although very ill initially, slowly the little girl began to thrive. Bob was able to go to Bogot� one day before Pam and saw Ana for the first time. The next day it was Pam s turn to arrive and finally hold her little girl. Pito became Ana s God Mother.
The family of four was living in Geneseo, Illinois. Pam (still a Flight Attendant) and Bob (a Captain for Air Wisconsin) were based in Chicago. Bob was also a Major for the Air National Guard.
Friday morning, March 25, 1988 Pam took the children with her to St. Malachi s church to do some volunteer work. She was dusting and polishing wood around the altar when Bob walked in dressed in his flight uniform. They had a quick conversation and Bob kissed his young wife, and children good bye. He left for his weekend National Guard duty. That evening at approximately, 6:25 p.m., 10 miles northeast of Rushville, Illinois, Bob s OA-37 twin seater jet crashed into a freshly plowed corn field. Major Bob Brown and Col. John Allen were killed.
The young widow Pam was a picture of grace and composure at the memorial service which was held in a hanger; the only place large enough to accommodate the crowd. Donald 6 and Ana 4, too young to understand what was happening, sat near their mother, who had once again been dealt a devastating blow.
Within two weeks, Pam began the recovery from grief and started her journey as a single mom. A year later she made the decision to move back home to Colorado Springs. Leaving her dearly loved friends in Geneseo, she and Patti Adams Cooper drove a huge rented moving van from Illinois to Colorado to her new home. By now you all know the pattern they are all still friends, Linda, Deb, Mary, Patti Laurie and others whose names I may have missed.
Pam had the support and friendship of Carl Cox during this time, however; she remained single and watched her children progress through elementary, middle and high school. No surprise to anyone she was an eager volunteer and always available to assist with any project. Donald headed to Grinnell in Iowa and Ana to CSU. Donald married his wife Erica, January, 2003. Pam was an incredible mom. She loved, listened, encouraged and advised them well. She read to them, taught them the importance of faith and believing and insisted on good manners. If her children needed anything she would move Heaven and Earth to accomplish it. Pam traveled with her children and instilled in them a confidence that today allows them not to be fearful of new adventures but anxious to explore possibilities. Their travels took them to Paris, New Zealand, Colombia, and China and for Pam included walking across Scotland from coast to coast. Brown family reunions, weddings and special occasions were a must and Pam made sure her children remained in touch with their father s family. Pam once said to me she hoped she could be the kind of mother-in-law Luella had been to her and I am sure Erica will attest she was.
Eleven years ago she recruited me to become an American Airlines Flight Attendant. It was Pam who pinned my wings on. One year later the 9/11 tragedy struck. Pam was especially touched and decided in her always kind and compassionate way, the Flight Crews should not be forgotten. Each year for the next five years she hosted a Lest They Be Forgotten Luncheon at her home and her expense. The last luncheon more than 100 flight and ground crew attended. There were active and retired employees from, American, United, TWA, Eastern, Continental, Frontier and more in attendance.
For ten years Marc Littlefield and Pam would have lunch and movies dates. Marc would go his way and Pam would go hers. Then about two years ago their relationship took a turn. Pam happily shared with me she was in love with Marc. She was eager to share her happiness with everyone she spoke to from her friends to the mailman. Marc, who had managed to remain a bachelor for 60 years gave up the battle and proposed to Pam last October. They were planning a wedding ceremony at the summit of Wilkerson Pass where the photo of them was taken.
Things don t always go as we wish or plan. Once again Pam had been dealt a devastating blow. As Marc, Ana, Donald and Erica can attest she confronted her illness with determination and fortitude.
My profound sympathy is extended to Betty, Ana, Donald, Erica, Marc. Cindy and Stephanie, and all of Pam s extended family.
A special thanks to Kay and Dave for hosting so many out -of-town guests. And thank you Mrs. G., Laura, Mr. Ken, Fran and all those I do not know personally for being there to help.
In closing I want to leave you with this thought, the depth of a friendship is determined by the number of personal things one can share without feeling of reprisal or judgment. I love you Pam, you will be missed, God bless you dear friend.
For all the loved ones you have lost…
Lest they be forgotten
Sara B