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September 11 Memorial: Remembering the victims who died at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania

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Mary Jane (MJ) Booth

Age: 64

Hometown: Falls Church, Va., USA

Occupation: Secretary, American Airlines

Location: Passenger, American Flight 77, Pentagon

"The eagle was given to my sister last June, when her boss had a surprise party for her 45th anniversary with the company. [She was assistant to the general manager of American Airlines at Dulles International Airport.] To me, the eagle symbolizes all her years with American Airlines and her spirit. My sister brought so much joy and happiness to her work and her family. She loved people. Everyone knew her at Dulles--the baggage handlers, the agents, everybody. She was a true friend. She always made time to listen to a person's problem or story and to share a laugh or a joke. When things happened, she coped. She really took care of my mom, who lived a few miles away until she passed away in 1994. Every single day, Mary would call or go visit her. She flew down from Virginia to surprise me on birthdays and Christmas. She came for my kids' graduations from high school and college. She always came. She was the glue that held everyone together." -- Nancy Kimbell, sister

Profile:

Mary Jane Booth, 64, was known to almost everyone who worked at Dulles International Airport.

She had worked for American Airlines for 45 years and was secretary to American's general managerat Dulles for more than three decades, arriving just a few years after the airport opened. There were few things about the place or its people that she didn't know.

"At this airport, she was a mother to everyone," said Dennis Hazell, the latest who had come to think of himself as "her" general manager.

On Tuesday, Booth boarded her airline's Flight 77, en route to a Las Vegas meeting of the employees' credit union. As word spread that she was aboard the plane that hit the Pentagon, hotels, flower shops and other businesses with which she had dealt began sending condolences to her boss.

Everyone called her MJ, said Jackie Lewis, her counterpart at Northwest Airlines -- except at the annual American Airlines holiday party, when she dressed the part and everyone called her Mrs. Santa Claus.

"She was the friendly glue that kept everybody together," airport manager Keith Meurlin said. "She'd take you under her wing and teach you the airline business. If there was a tough decision, it was not uncommon for me to pick up the phone and ask what impact it would have on her operation. At Dulles, everybody knew her."

Booth spent most of her life in Northern Virginia, growing up in Arlington and settling in Falls Church.

She was widowed two years ago and had no children.

Her sister, Nancy Kimbell, lives in Dallas, and she also is survived by a niece, Kendra, and a nephew, Keith.

-- Carol Morello

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Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com

The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.

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Timeline

A day after the 9/11 attacks a makeshift memorial was created on the Arlington Memorial Cemetery fence. Seven years later, the first 9/11 memorial is opening.

Related Coverage:

3-Dimensional Virtual Memorial

Victims Remembered in Maryland

One Family's Loss

Stepping Through the Ashes

Pentagon Under Attack

Five Year Anniversary Coverage


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