In Memory of Rodney, Sarah, Rachel & Grace

Last January 31, 2000 on Alaska Airlines Flight 261, I lost my son, Rodney Pearson, his wife Sarah and two granddaughters, Rachel age 6 and Grace age 22 months. That evening on January 31 I had just taken my dogs to he kennel and was leaving for Seattle the next morning to visit my son and his family and also to go to a dog show as I also show dogs. I rarely listen to the news but at 4:10 p.m. I was listening to Fox News and heard about the crash. Instantly, I knew it was one of Sarahs flights as she was a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines. I immediately started trying to call my son who was involved in the operation of three new restaurants in Seattle. I called and called and finally on his answering line came the words this line is filled up. And then I got really frantic. I called the restaurants and they began passing me around to one another so I was getting really concerned and finally the other owners wife came on the line and said go to the airport now and I said why? and she said cause Rodney was on the plane with Sarah and my reply, oh no, not the girls too? and she said, yes, they went to Mexico on a well deserved and needed vacation.

In an instant my family that was the love of my life was taken away and I had not even gotten to know my youngest grandchild, since I left Seattle in November of 1998 and to this day I regret the move. My son, Rodney was the best young man to raise not that he did not have his share of trouble but he was a delight. I regretted the day he graduated and moved out of the house, I thought my life was going to be very boring and lonely.

He worked the rest of his life in the restaurant business making a name for him and developing a lot of friends as he always had in high school with his teachers and students. He was a born leader. He was born in Amarillo, Texas on August 6, 1955. He did not get married until 1991, when he married Sarah Manning from Spokane, WA. They made a great team. They lived on Queen Hill in Seattle and had lots of close neighbors and friends. The articles about them never ended after the crash and still go on in Seattle. They were not as well known as some who were on that flight, nor the best, but they left a legacy of love behind and lots of things are being done by people in their memory.

Just this past January 29th I went to Ventura County, California with my son Chris, my sister Billie and her husband, Nolan to the 1st anniversary of the crash put on by Alaska Airlines. Peter Teahen and his crew from Iowa put it together in just 11 weeks. It was a great 2 days of services. There was the burial of the casket for the 88 people that lost their lives with all service pallbearers. They released 88 doves on that night and had ministers from all faiths.

On Wednesday January 31, we went to Point Mugu, the Naval Station. The guest speaker was Janice Lord, a licensed social worker, professional counselor and death educator. She said the right words. 600 families and over 100 caregivers from the Red Cross, the Service and the Ventura Police and Fire Department and State Patrol were there. On that evening, the theme was butterflies and the caregivers made a circle on the beach and the family members released 88 Monarch butterflies.

It was well worth going for my son and me as we were able to let go of some of the grief we had all year.

Velda L. Pearson, TX, lost her son, Rodney Pearson, 46, his wife Sarah, 34, and two granddaughters, Rachel, 6 and Grace, 22-months, aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 261

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