A Eulogy to my Father and Brother

My father William and brother Steven shared a love of travel. My father had expressed his interest in seeing the world to my mom before they were even married. And see the world they did. My father and my mother traveled the world together, going to South America, Europe, China, Japan, Africa; the list goes on. Only a few short months ago, my brother, Steve returned from Vietnam, where he was helping to set up an international family residency program. My brother, Steve and Dad’s most recent trip to Africa was their third adventure there together. They both shared a love of photography and of mysterious animals. Though both have always been adventurous spirits, Steve was the daredevil of the family, having parachuted out of planes and bungee jumped from a bridge in Africa known to be the highest bungee jump in the world.

So together in August of this year, Dad and Steve left for Africa. We all know they were having the time of their lives because every time they returned from one of these trips, they had smiles on their faces and 100,000 photographs. On September 1, there were two small planes on the ground ready for take-off. Their destination was Kilimanjaro Airport. The flight was only supposed to be one hour. I can imagine that my father grabbed my brother and said “C’mon, lets get on the first plane.” My dad was like that, always rushing to be first.

The plane was only a dozen or so miles from its destination when the pilot descended into the clouds to take a closer look at an ancient volcano known as Mt. Meru. The pilot, supposedly very experienced, made a critical error, and their plane clipped a tree colliding into a mountainous ravine. I spoke with a U.S. forensic pathologist, who had the difficult job of identifying remains, and he told me, and I tell you now, that they could not possibly have felt any pain and that their deaths were instantaneous.

These two people, pillars in our family, people who showed us and everyone who knew them, that as humans, nothing is beyond our reach, are now gone. I choose to believe that they are still with us. I feel my father and brother’s presence within me, helping me, guiding me, and showing me what is right and what is wrong. Fifty years ago, it took my father five days to fly from Buenos Aires to Miami, to begin a new life in a new country, a very different land where people spoke a strange language. My father has begun a very different journey from yet another continent, to return again to Miami, but this time, not as a stranger, not as a visitor, but to be buried along with his son in the nation he called “home.” Goodbye Dad, Goodbye Steve. We love you.

(Written by Barry Putterman in memory of his father and brother)

Submitted by Joan Putterman who lost her husband William, 64, and son Steve, 36, aboard Northern Airlines, Tanzania, Africa, September 1, 1999.

Download PDF

Posted in Memorial Story, Our Newsletter


Surviving Sudden Loss: Stories from those who have lived it

Book proceeds benefit ACCESS
Purchase Here

Families We Have Helped:

Below are some of the air disasters that we have responded to:
Private Plane - 9/26/12
Rockingham County, VA
Private Plane - 2/27/11
Abu Dhabi
Private Plane - 12/22/10
Barrington, NY
Private Plane - 7/17/10
South Portland, ME
Air India Express 812 - 5/22/10
Mangalore, India
Afriqiyah Airways 8U771- 5/12/10
Tripoli, Libya
Ethiopian Airlines 409 - 1/25/10
Off of Na'ameh, Lebanon
Air France Flight 447 - 6/1/09
Atlantic Ocean
Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 - 2/25/09
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Continental Flight 3407 - 2/12/09
Clarence Center, NY
US Airways Flight 1549 - 1/15/09
Hudson River, NY
Aeroflot Flight 821 - 9/14/08
Perm, Russia
Spanair JK 5022 - 8/20/08
Madrid, Spain
TAM Airways JJ 3054 - 7/17/07
São Paulo, Brazil
Comair Flight 5191 - 8/27/06
Lexington, KY
Airbus A320-211 - 5/3/06
Off Sochi, Russia
Bellview Airlines - 10/23/05
West Caribbean Airways 708 - 8/16/05
Machiques, Venezuela
Air France Flight 358 - 8/2/05
Ontario, Canada
Kam Air Flight 904 - 2/3/05
Pamir Mountains, Afghanistan
Corporate Airlines 5966 - 10/19/04
Pettis Township, MO
Kish Airlines Flight 1770 - 2/10/04
United Arab Emirates
Georgian Express Flight 126 - 1/17/04
Ontario, Canada
Flash Airlines 604 - 1/3/04

Red Sea

Turkish Airlines 634 - 1/8/03

Diyarbakır Airport, Turkey

US Airways Express/Air Midwest Flight 5481 - 1/8/03

Charlotte, NC

American Flight 587 - 11/12/01

Queens, NY

The events of September 11, 2001

Private Plane - 12/3/00
Milltown, WI
Singapore Airlines 006 - 10/31/00

Chiang Kai-shek Internat'l Airport

Gulf Air Bus A320 - 8/23/00

Persian Gulf, Bahrain

Air France Concorde 4590 - 7/25/00

Gonesse, France

Alaska Airlines 261 - 1/31/00

Pacific Ocean

Egypt Air 990 - 10/31/99

Atlantic Ocean

American Airlines 1420 - 6/1/99

Little Rock, AR

Swissair 111 - 9/2/98

Atlantic Ocean

Private Plane - 8/4/98
Phillips, WI
TWA 800 - 7/17/96

US Air 427 9/8/94

Allegheny County, PA

Long Island, NY

Pan Am 103 - 12/21/88

Lockerbie, Scotland

TWA/United Airlines - Mid-Air Collision- 12/16/1960
Brooklyn & Staten Island, NY
and hundreds of other private, commercial and military air disasters

See Full List