Thursday, September 11, 2008
My 9/11 Tribute to Joan Hoadley Peterson
The following was originally posted in 2006 on the 5th anniversary of 9/11, as part of Project 2,996:
I Remember Jean Hoadley Peterson
When I signed up recently to commemorate a 9/11 victim as part of the 2,996 project, I had no idea that the woman whose name was randomly given to me would have been a Christian--a woman who, just weeks before her death on Flight 93, said, "I don't know why, but I feel so ready to meet the Lord!"
Here I was thinking that I could somehow be a blessing by memorializing Jean Hoadley Peterson, but just reading about her has ended up blessing me.
Today I commemorate Jean Hoadley Peterson, who died along with her husband Don Peterson in the crash of Flight 93, the only terrorist-infiltrated flight on 9/11/2001 that didn't reach its intended target.
Her husband's Bible found
Several days ago I posted about the fact that I had been assigned Jean's name as part of the 2,996 project. I was amazed to get this response from Donna-Jean, a fellow blogger from New Jersey:
"Cindy, I know about Jean Hoadley Peterson. She and her husband Don were believers in Jesus Christ. They supported my uncle's evangelistic ministry here in New Jersey, that's how I first heard about them. They were very generous and supportive.
"Don and Jean were a retired couple, involved with Community Bible Study in their Jersey shore home; Don was a Teaching Director. They were the only married couple on Flight 93; they left behind six grown children and one grandchild.
"Don's dog-eared NIV Bible was one of two Bibles found at the crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In the Bible was his Community Bible Study lesson from Luke, with his answers written in."
She then referred me to this article about the Petersons, which includes a picture of Don's Bible. I encourage you to follow that link as well and learn more about Jean and her husband.
I was amazed. Out of all the names I could have been assigned, I was given the name of a fellow believer...a woman who, like me, believed in a hope beyond the grave. A woman who was a follower of Christ and a believer and lover of His Word.
So who was Jean Hoadley Peterson?
Jean was 55 years old when she died in the crash of Flight 93. She was a wife, a mom, a grandmother, a registered nurse.
According to the Wall of Americans website: "Mrs. Peterson was born in Evanston, Ill., and grew up in Lancaster, Pa. She received a nursing degree from the University of Rochester, and a master's degree in education from Columbia University. She, too, was deeply involved in church ministries and was a member of Community Bible Study in Spring Lake [New Jersey].
"'She did everything in a very quiet way, never expecting anything in return,' said her daughter, Jennifer Price. 'She was a devoted mother, and after we grew up she devoted her life to helping other people's children.'"
"The couple married in 1984 and are survived by six children. David, Hamilton and Royster Peterson, and Jennifer, Grace and Catherine Price.
"Mrs. Peterson is also survived by her parents, Walter and Virginia Hoadley; her brother, Richard Hoadley; and granddaughter, Charlotte."
Along with leading Bible studies, Don and Jean traveled with church friends to help a mission in Santa Lucia, and Jean volunteered at the Helping Hands Pregnancy Center in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.
According to this article, "On Sept. 11, they'd planned to take a later flight to a family reunion at Yosemite National Park, but at the airport seized a chance to switch to less-crowded Flight 93. Their memorial service drew nearly 1,000 people they'd worked with, helped or counseled and had to be moved to a larger sanctuary nearby."
I regret deeply that the earthly lives of Jean Hoadley Peterson and her husband were cut short by the tragedy of 9/11. But I celebrate the 55 years that she lived on this planet, and how she blessed and influenced those around her.
And I rejoice that I will meet her someday in heaven.
The 2,996 tribute to Don Peterson can be found here.
More on Don and Jean Peterson
Listen to my radio piece about 9/11--This was recorded a few months after 9/11. There are a couple of small glitches in the audio, but it has a sense of immediacy about it that I think brings back the emotions we were all experiencing at that time. Includes sound bites from that day.
Many thanks to Donna-Jean Breckenridge for her invaluable direction in this tribute