Beverly Eckert

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Beverly Eckert
Obama and Beverly Eckert.jpg
Beverly Eckert shaking hands with President of the United States Barack Obama less than a week before her death.
Born(1951-05-29)May 29, 1951
DiedFebruary 12, 2009(2009-02-12) (aged 57)
Cause of deathPlane crash Colgan Air Flight 3407
Resting place New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart
Alma mater State University of New York at Buffalo
Known forMember of 9/11 Family Steering Committee
Died on Colgan Air Flight 3407
Spouse(s)Sean Rooney (m. 1980–2001; his death in the September 11 attacks)

Beverly Eckert (May 29, 1951 – February 12, 2009) was an activist and advocate for the creation of the 9/11 Commission. She was one of the members of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission. Eckert's husband, Sean Rooney, died at age 50 in the attacks of September 11, 2001. She pushed for a commission to investigate 9/11 and to establish a memorial.

9/11 Commission Commission to investigate the attacks of September 11th, 2001

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, was set up on November 27, 2002, "to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11 attacks", including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The commission was also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

The 9/11 Family Steering Committee was an organization of twelve relatives of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Members of the Committee included the Jersey Girls. It was part of the 9/11 Truth Movement and was set up to monitor the work of the 9/11 Commission.

September 11 attacks Attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.


Eckert died at age 57 on February 12, 2009, in the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Clarence Center, New York. She had met with President Barack Obama just a few days before her death in her role as an advocate for those affected by 9/11.

Colgan Air Flight 3407 2009 aviation accident in the US

Colgan Air Flight 3407, marketed as Continental Connection under a codeshare agreement with Continental Airlines, was a scheduled passenger flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Buffalo, New York, which crashed on February 12, 2009. The aircraft, a Bombardier Dash-8 Q400, entered an aerodynamic stall from which it did not recover and crashed into a house in Clarence Center, New York at 10:17 p.m. EST, killing all 49 passengers and crew on board, as well as one person inside the house.

Clarence Center, New York Census-designated place in New York, United States

Clarence Center is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Clarence in Erie County, New York, United States. The population was 2,257 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

President of the United States (POTUS) is the title for the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Before the September 11 attack

Eckert was born in 1951 in Buffalo, New York, and met her future husband, Sean P. Rooney, at a dance at Canisius High School, a Jesuit-run academy in that city, when both were 16 years old. Eckert attended the Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls high school in Eggertsville, New York. She received a degree in fine arts in 1975 from Buffalo State College, where in 2005 she gave the Baccalaureate Commencement Address. Rooney lived in Buffalo until 1978, working as a manager of restaurants, until he began working in the financial services industry and moving to Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut. When he died he was a vice president for risk management services at the Aon Corporation. He worked on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center's south tower, one of 32 employees in Aon's offices there. [1]

Buffalo, New York City in Western New York

Buffalo is the second largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the largest city in Western New York. As of July 2016, the population was 256,902. The city is the county seat of Erie County and a major gateway for commerce and travel across the Canada–United States border, forming part of the bi-national Buffalo Niagara Region.

Canisius High School

Canisius High School is a Roman Catholic, Jesuit, private high school for young men, located at 1180 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York, United States, just north of the Delaware Avenue Historic District. Founded in 1870, the school has historical ties to Canisius College. Canisius operates independently from the New York State guidelines established by the Board of Regents. It has the largest high school student population among private schools in Western New York.

Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity private high school for young women located in Eggertsville, New York, United States. It is operated independent of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

The couple, who had no children and lived in the Glenbrook section of Stamford, Connecticut, had been married 21 years when Rooney died. Before Rooney's death, they had celebrated their 50th birthdays with vacations to Vermont, to mark his, and Morocco, to mark hers. [1]

Glenbrook (Stamford)

Glenbrook is a section of the city of Stamford, Connecticut. It is located on the eastern side of the city, east of Downtown, north of the East Side and the Cove sections and south of the Springdale section. To the west is Downtown Stamford and to the northwest is Belltown. To the east is Darien.

Stamford, Connecticut City in Connecticut, United States

Stamford is a city in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 122,643. As of 2017, according to the Census Bureau, the population of Stamford had risen to 131,000, making it the third-largest city in the state and the seventh-largest city in New England. Approximately 30 miles from Manhattan, Stamford is in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk Metro area which is a part of the Greater New York metropolitan area.

Vermont State of the United States of America

Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders the U.S. states of Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. Vermont is the second-smallest by population and the sixth-smallest by area of the 50 U.S. states. The state capital is Montpelier, the least populous state capital in the United States. The most populous city, Burlington, is the least populous city to be the most populous city in a state. As of 2015, Vermont was the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States. It was ranked as the safest state in the country in 2016.

September 11, 2001

When the planes hit the World Trade Center, Rooney called his wife and exchanged voice mail messages with her. To get to safety, he made his way to the 105th floor of his building, trying to reach the roof, when he became trapped until the tower collapsed, killing him. [1] [2]

After Eckert learned about the attacks, she went home and stayed on the phone with her husband until she heard the tower collapse. She described the incident in a StoryCorps interview. [3] [4]

StoryCorps non-profit organisation in the USA

StoryCorps is an American non-profit organization whose mission is to record, preserve, and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs. StoryCorps grew out of Sound Portraits Productions as a project founded in 2003 by radio producer David Isay. Its headquarters are located in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

After September 11

Eckert commissioned this mural at Glenbrook train station, where her husband had once waited during his commute to work. The image depicts her husband's favorite golf course. GlenbrookRRstaMuralStamfordCT07152007.jpg
Eckert commissioned this mural at Glenbrook train station, where her husband had once waited during his commute to work. The image depicts her husband's favorite golf course.
Plaque at the mural at Glenbrook train station PlaqueSeanRooneyGlenbrookCTTrainStation021809.JPG
Plaque at the mural at Glenbrook train station

Eckert became a leading activist among 9/11 victims' families, joining with others in lobbying for creation of the 9/11 Commission, improvements to national security, and for creation of a memorial at the World Trade Center site. In pressing federal elected officials to do a better job in protecting Americans from terrorism, she was among a number of 9/11 victims' family members active in pressing for sweeping reforms of U.S. intelligence. [6] She also spoke in opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. [4] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

Eckert was the co-chairperson of the group Voices of September 11. [13]

Locally, Eckert worked with Stamford city officials on various memorial projects. She left her job at General Re and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and, beginning in September 2008, as a tutor at the Julia A. Stark Elementary School. She was also a member of the Glenbrook Neighborhood Association. In honor of her husband and other victims, Eckert planted birch trees near a trail in Cove Island Park where she and Rooney learned to in-line skate. At the Glenbrook train station, where her husband commuted to work, she commissioned a mural and planted a sycamore tree as a memorial. Shortly before her death, she joined a neighborhood association committee to improve the station. [4]

On December 19, 2003, Eckert published her famous manifesto, "My Silence Cannot be Bought:"

I've chosen to go to court rather than accept a payoff from the 9/11 victims compensation fund. Instead, I want to know what went so wrong with our intelligence and security systems that a band of religious fanatics was able to turn four U.S passenger jets into an enemy force, attack our cities and kill 3,000 civilians with terrifying ease. I want to know why two 110-story skyscrapers collapsed in less than two hours and why escape and rescue options were so limited. . . . The victims fund was not created in a spirit of compassion. Rather, it was a tacit acknowledgement by Congress that it tampered with our civil justice system in an unprecedented way. . . . So I say to Congress, big business and everyone who conspired to divert attention from government and private-sector failures: My husband's life was priceless, and I will not let his death be meaningless. My silence cannot be bought. [14]


Eckert was killed on February 12, 2009, in the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 outside of Buffalo, New York. [15] She was traveling to Buffalo for a gathering with her family to mark what would have been Rooney's 58th birthday on February 15. A ceremony had also been scheduled at Canisius High School in which she was to award a student with a memorial scholarship in Rooney's honor.

A week before her death, Eckert met with U.S. President Barack Obama, to discuss detainees at Guantanamo and other matters. [16] In a press conference after her death, Obama described her as a "tireless advocate for the families, those whose lives were forever changed on that September day." [16]

On June 18, 2009, Margot Eckert, executor of her sister's estate, filed a lawsuit in New Haven, Connecticut, against Colgan Air, Pinnacle Air and Continental Airlines, claiming they were responsible for the crash. [17]

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  1. 1 2 3 Chan, Sewell (February 14, 2009). "Beverly Eckert, Leader of Families of 9/11 Victims, Dies at 57". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  2. [ dead link ]
  3. "Beverly Eckert – StoryCorps". Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  4. 1 2 3 Potts, Monica and Martin Cassidy, "Neighbors: 'For this to happen just seems unreal': 'A deeply felt loss' among neighbors in Stamford", article, February 14, 2009, The Advocate of Stamford, Connecticut, retrieved same day.
  5. Porstner, Donna (September 9, 2006). "Places to pay tribute". Stamford Advocate.
  6. Silva, Mark, "Beverly Eckert: Crash victim, 9/11 widow", blog post, February 13, 2009, The Swamp blog of the Chicago Tribune , retrieved February 14, 2009.
  7. "Beverly Eckert, 9/11 widow, champions intelligence reform legislation". US News and World Report. 2004-12-13. Archived from the original on 2009-02-15. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  8. "Sky News report". Sky News. Archived from the original on 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  9. "Fiery plane crash near Buffalo, NY, kills 50". Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  10. Linstedt, Sharon. "Beverly Eckert, widow of 9/11 victim, was aboard Flight 3407". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on 2009-02-17.
  11. "Clinton: People of WNY will pull together". WROC-TV. 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2009-02-13.[ dead link ]
  12. "My Silence Cannot Be Bought" Archived February 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine , article by Eckert, reprinted from USA Today , December 19, 2003
  13. Voices of September 11th Archived 2009-02-18 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Eckert, Beverly (2003). "My Silence Cannot Be Bought". USA Today.
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved February 14, 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. 1 2 Vogel, Charity, ""Passengers and crew aboard Flight 3407: Their stories"". Archived from the original on 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2013-11-22.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) , article, February 14, 2009, The Buffalo News , retrieved same day
  17. "Courthouse News Service". 2009-06-18. Retrieved 2016-07-04.