Returning home from a semester abroad, 35 Syracuse University students perished aboard Pan Am Flight 103. Click on each student's quilt square to learn more about them.
Originally from Melrose, Mass., Gary Colastini was studying abroad in London while earning his degree in advertising through the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Driven to London by his desire to see new places and meet new people, Gary is most remembered by his friends and family for his 'zest for life.' The brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity was energetic and artistic, always with a smile on his face and a joke to tell.
A native of Newton, a suburb of Boston, Sarah Phillipps was a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She was a skilled athlete, excelling in sports such as field hockey and track. She loved skiing the mountains in Colorado. She dreamed of a career in publishing or law. Shortly before her death, she spoke to her mother about her love of the Scottish city of Edinburgh. She expressed to her mother her desire to return with her by her side. Her family remembers her smile, laughter and sunny disposition.
Peter Peirce was the eldest of the SU students killed on Pan Am flight 103. A master's student in the architecture program, Peirce was returning home from a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, as part of the university's architecture curriculum. Though his life was cut short, he had several professional achievements, including starting his own architecture firm, PDG Architects, and Peirce Design Group in Ohio. Peter earned degrees from Ohio State University and the University of Detroit. He also studied at Warsaw Technical University, the University of Toledo and San Francisco Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies. His wife, Cherry Pierce, was certainly accurate in describing Peter as a "modern renaissance man."
Eric M. Coker was returning home from his semester in London with his twin brother, Jason Coker, by his side. Both natives of Mendham, N.J., he was a student at the University of Rochester majoring in economics, with hopes to continue his studies by pursuing a master's degree in the same subject following his graduation. He is remembered for being fastidious and paying attention to detail, qualities that did not go unnoticed by his peers and professors. A self-taught photographer, Eric was able to capture his perspective through his photographs and used art as a way to express his outlook on life.
As a student in Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts, Theodora Cohen loved singing and acting. Her passion for performance took her abroad to London, to study within Syracuse's DIPA Program. Beyond London, Theodora visited the Netherlands, France, Scotland and Greece while she was in Europe. Eager to be a master of her craft, Theodora enrolled in every theater class she could while she was abroad. Theodora had hopes to begin an experimental theater with Miriam Wolfe, another student on Pan Am 103, when they returned to Syracuse. Theodora was always focused on her acting goals and her determination never wavered. In the sixth grade she told her parents, "Theater is my life."
Lindsey Otenasek was a social work major at Western Maryland College and studied in London through Syracuse University's Department of International Programs Abroad. She dreamed of working with deaf children and was in the process of learning American Sign Language. "Exuberant, loyal and compassionate best describes Lindsey, the youngest of six children. Her concern for 'the man by the side of the road' led to a social work major at Western Maryland College. DIPA offered the opportunity to combine education and cultural exploration (in her favorite city)," her parents remember.
Tim Cardwell was a junior at Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts. His interests varied from theater to athletics. He was in the Hendricks Chapel choir. He was an Army ROTC scholarship recipient and a sergeant in the 403rd Army Reserve National Guard who was awarded the Army Commendation Medal posthumously. "Tim's goal was to excel physically, mentally and spiritually. He loved life, his family, his country and his God, and strove to be the best whether he was on stage, behind stage, jumping out of airplanes or rappelling down a cliff. The song in his heart always showed through as a broad smile on his face," his parents described.
Rick Monetti was a junior at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., and was a loyal Philadelphia sports fan. He fell in love with SU after seeing the Carrier Dome. Rick was energetic, funny and dedicated to his work. In his journal he wrote, "So analytical tonight — feeling old at 20, that lost innocence of youth. Don't sit back, make the most of everything. Do all you can while you can. Life is a one-time deal. You can't ever re-do what you missed the first time. The opportunity is here, stop looking past it. Sure, December 21 is going to be great but so is October 10. Be aggressive, be fun and go crazy. There is no reason to hold anything back. Nothing to lose." Listen to Rick's sister and mother share his legacy.
Nicole Boulanger was a senior musical theater major at Syracuse University. Originally from Shrewbury, Mass., she always loved theater. Nicole's friends described her as quiet and shy, but say she transformed when she got on stage. She loved everything about it, having studied voice, dance and drama in London. Nicole was also a talented drawer and painter and enjoyed writing poetry. Before her passing, Nicole was featured in several SU productions because she was one of the most talented students in the musical theater program.
Suzanne Miazga was a graduate student working towards a master's degree in social work at Syracuse University's College of Human Dynamics. Suzanne also completed her undergraduate degree at SU. She was described as congenial and intelligent. While in London, Suzanne worked as a counselor in the drug dependency unit of St. Mary's Hospital. Between her course work and counseling, she still took time to travel, visiting France, Italy and Switzerland. She was also a licensed real estate agent.
Steve Boland was an advertising major at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He bubbled with joy and kindness. Steve was the vice-president elect for his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta. "From classes to his love of The Beatles, his commitment was intense in everything he did. But Steve was not the type of person whose attitude was that of a go-getter; it was that of a friend, an advisor, a person you could trust with anything. Few people who met him weren't attached to his love of life, something which was an inspiration to us all," the brothers of Delta Tau Delta said.
Alexander Lowenstein was an English major at Syracuse University. While studying in London, he decided to pursue a career in clinical psychology. He was joyous and always laughing. Alexander believed his ability to connect with people and have them confide in him would make him successful. He also loved the outdoors, especially surfing. He spent every summer surfing in Montauk, Long Island and was looking forward to a trip to Hawaii when he returned.
Ken Bisset was studying communications at nearby Cornell University but spent the semester abroad through Syracuse University's Department of International Programs Abroad. He had always been a writer and wanted to be "the next Stephen King" but was considering a career in advertising. He was a man of many talents, having wrote for Cornell Countrymen and one of his photography projects on display in a London museum. "Kenny was a Christmas present and one that improved with age like fine wine. Each year his abilities and talents brought us more and more pride and joy, whether it was his grades, his writings or just being a wonderful person," his parents wrote.
Wendy Lincoln was an art major specializing in communication design, graphic illustration and photography at Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts. Wendy's paintings and photographs were displayed at a student art show in London. She was compassionate and friendly. Wendy's classmates remember she made friends where ever she went. "Beauty radiated from within her. Gentle and kind, full of laughter and joy — surrounded by love. Her greatest virtue was humility, her greatest joy was helping others," her mother remembers.
Jason Coker's signature red high top sneakers and red bandana seemed dull next to his sense of humor. Friends and family were never without entertainment when Jason and Eric, his twin brother who was also on Pan Am 103, were around. Jason was a junior at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with dreams of working in television or newspapers. He was the co-founder of an international current affairs club called World Watch. Described as wise beyond his years, Jason's humor never compromised his intelligence or insight. Jason was just as likely to be the life of the party as he was the center of a stimulating debate.
After several years of working in the business field and gaining real-world experience, Sandy Phillips decided to return to school at Syracuse University's School of Management. Though older than most of his classmates, Sandy took it upon himself to be a positive influence for his peers. He was passionate about music, sports and poetry and loved working with other people. Sandy was elected to the Student Government Association where he served as Vice President for Administrative Operations. Members of the Student Government Association Cabinet honored Sandy for his outstanding contributions to the undergraduate student body. In turn, he was deeply passionate about his work in student government and was humbled by the recognition.
Steve Berrell is remembered as considerate person with an adventurous personality. He was pursuing majors in Communications and Management, which captured his broad range of interests. Steve had just pledged Phi Delta Theta fraternity before leaving for London. He was imaginative and always kept an open mind. Steve always had high personal standards and developed a diligent work ethic in order to set the goals he made for himself. His determination and sense of humor made him a loyal and caring friend.
Julianne Kelly's passion didn't stop at her double major in public relations and political science. She was also a talented singer, actress and writer. Though Julianne was only in her junior year, she was already considering law school after graduating from SU. She had a burning desire to correct the injustices in the world. Julianne's mother and sisters remember her sense of humor and compassion. Julianne was a natural leader and the type of person who believed it only takes one person to make a difference.
Above all else, Miriam Wolfe was giving. She had plans since high school to become a Broadway star and, eventually, win an Oscar. Miriam was studying dance, dramatic literature, acting, voice and art history during her time in London. On top of that, Miriam interned at London's Kingshead Theatre. She was president of the Drama Club and had plans to create an experimental theater group at SU with other students including Theodora Cohen, who was also on Pan Am 103. Miriam's teachers remember her as passionate and energetic, giving her all during performances and providing energy for others to feed off of on stage. Miriam was also a talented writer. She would often give blank diaries with words of encouragements as gifts, in hopes that others would find the same inspiration in everyday life that she did.
Chris Jones, or "Shrub" to his classmates, was a born people-person. Chris never let his lack of natural athletic ability stop him from playing basketball, soccer or tennis. His dedication and enthusiasm inspired his teammates and coaches. Chris brought the best out of everyone he encountered. A junior majoring in English and history, Chris was a promising writer who never failed to produce humorous and whimsical stories in his classes. Chris' eagerness, unwavering encouragement and positive energy pulled in others around him. His vivacious spirit and sense of humor earned him the respect of his peers and instructors alike.
Kesha Weedon's compassion will not be forgotten. She was a junior at Syraucse University's School of Social work and wanted to work with young children once she earned her master's degree. She worked in a day care center in high school and worked in a nursery while in London. Kesha was also active in the campus religious group, Youth For Christ. Kesha's musical prowess earned her a spot in the university orchestra as a violinist. She also sang in church choirs around campus. Kesha's mother remembers her as gentile and loving, qualities that rubbed off on every child she worked with.
Thoughtful and caring, Karen Hunt made sure the gifts she brought back for her family were fitting for each person. The teapot she bought survived the crash and her mother treasures it dearly to this day. She was a junior with a major in English and minor in journalism. An exceptional poet, Karen hoped to write for magazines one day. When her mother visited her in October, she immediately saw the growth and maturity Karen gained since living abroad. Karen is remembered as a kind and thoughtful person whose warmth was felt by everyone around her. Just like the teapot, Karen's kindness and generosity will never be broken.
Nick Vrenios wouldn't go to London without his camera, guitar and skateboard. He was a junior photography major with a gravitational personality. Nick's London roommate, Tim Slaughter, remembers him skating down London streets, waking up early in attempt to snap a picture of the Queen and creating guitar-harmonica duets with their other roommate Scott Cory, who was also on Pam Am 103. Nick's parents remember his spontaneous trip to Scotland after staying up for 50 hours — truly living up to his motto, "Go for it." His parents hope to establish a scholarship fund for exceptional musicians to honor Nick's talent and passion.
Pamela Herbert was a junior at Bowdoin College and was studying abroad in London through Syracuse University. Pamela was a bright light to many others who came in contact with her. She was a hard worker in school who was rewarded for her efforts with many accolades and honors. She was also involved in athletics as a basketball player and different leadership conferences in different parts of the United States, including Washington, D.C. and Arizona. She was able to study at the London School of Economics through the SU program, an opportunity which came after she had considered studying in Italy, according to a remembrance essay written by her sister, Vanessa, around the time of the 10 year anniversary of the plane crash.
Alexia Tsairis was a junior at Syracuse Unversity's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Alexia was studying photojournalism during her time in London. Prior to the Lockerbie tragedy, Alexia had been with the Associated Press for two summers. Her undergraduate experience, along with the fact the she was voted as the most promising photographer in the London group by her instructors and fellow students, had set her up for a promising career after graduation. Aside from the photography, Alexia loved volleyball and swimming. In the wake of her untimely death, the Alexia Foundation for World Peace was established and currently awards several undergraduate scholars tuition grants each year.
John Flynn, who was known as "J.P." to his friends and family, was studying in London through Syracuse University in the fall 1988. Prior to enrolling in the abroad program, John was a junior at Colgate University who attended high school in New Jersey. He excelled at sports in high school, gaining 10 varsity letters during his four years at the Delbarton School. He played tennis, basketball and football. At Colgate, John was majoring in geography with a minor in economics. He had planned on going into the banking field once he had graduated.
Mark Tobin was working with the Syracuse University communications program in London in the hopes of achieving his goal of being a television sports announcer. Mark developed a love for sports and announcing during high school and had worked with Fordham University radio station. During his college years, including when he was in London, Mark displayed a love for life and travel that matched his love of sports. His zest for learning new things is remembered by all of those who knew him.
Before coming back to Syracuse to finish his junior year in the Visual and Performing Arts program on campus, Turhan English was spending his fall semester in London with fellow SU students. He found joy in performing and athletics, including singing in the Glee Club during high school and being a nationally ranked swimmer when he was growing up. Known by his peers for his sense of humor and good looks, Turhan's family was from Connecticut and described him as having a well-rounded set of interests and ambitions. They say he was a singer, a dancer, an actor and an athlete.
Cynthia Smith was an artist with a purpose. She loved fashion and design and was thrilled to be in London to be closer to European trends. Before studying in London, Cynthia had enrolled at Syracuse University in the College of Human Development. Although she loved shopping and was excited to get something from Paris, Cynthia was concerned about her peers and issues that they were going through in terms of how she could help out. Friendship and compassion had been something important to her going back to her days at Milton High School in Massachusetts. Because of this, Cynthia's parents gave money to Milton that helped create a scholarship worth $1,500 that is given to an art student each year. It has helped people remember the girl those around her called Cindy to this day and certainly in the future.
Shannon Davis was originally from Shelton, Conn., and had enrolled at SU in the College for Human Development in the hopes of working with young children once she graduated. Like her fellow Syracuse students involved in the Lockerbie tragedy, Shannon had great experiences while she was in London, including the opportunity to work with toy libraries. Photos of Shannon with daffodils provide great imagery for how she touched others while on this earth, her mother said. Although she was tragically taken from her family and friends too soon, the love she had for children endures in others. Here, Shannon's mother talks about her desire to go abroad and her favorite experiences while in London.
Amy Shapiro, who graduated from Stamford High School in Connecticut, had dreams of working for a magazine in her professional life. Before studying in London with Syracuse University, she had already begun her undergraduate photojournalism studies at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Amy loved writing and taking photos; she was on the staff of a literary magazine in high school and worked for The Daily Orange at SU. Her friends remember her as energetic and full of life. Before her semester in London was over, Amy's mother was able to see her when she took a trip across the pond to visit while she was studying.
Gretchen Dater, originally from New Jersey, was studying in London through Syracuse University in 1988. She applied to be part of SU's program while a student at the Maryland Institute of Art, where she was working toward a fine arts degree. An artist who wanted to study in England at some point during college, Gretchen is remembered for her smile. She was able to study in London and also be exposed to the rich art cultures in Europe, traveling to Paris, Amsterdam and Florence. Although Gretchen did not realize her goal of continuing on to a graduate program after college, some of her art depicting the theme of peace was exhibited posthumously.
Thomas Schultz was both an athlete and a scholar during his undergraduate years. Studying through Syracuse University's London program, Thomas was a student at Ohio Wesleyan University. Although those around Thomas said he at times struggled with his schooling when he was younger, he was nothing short of a model student and citizen while at Ohio Wesleyan and in London. Thomas kept good grades, was double majoring in history and politics and government and received letters in both cross-country and track. He was soaking up vital information about British political philosophies before the Lockerbie disaster. Ohio Wesleyan awarded Thomas his bachelor's degree posthumously.
While Scott Cory was a serious student, he was able to bring a sense of calm to difficult situations. Scott was a junior at Syracuse University's School of Management and enthusiastic sports fan. His parents said that he enjoyed his time in London, but was also looking forward to returning to Connecticut once the semester was over in December. They asserted that Scott was not someone who could easily be forgotten. At one point, Scott had colored his hair orange as homage to his university and their mascot. Scott was a big fan of both the Boston Red Sox and Miami Dolphins and would continually win bets against his friends concerning his teams.
Luann Rogers was studying with the Syracuse University abroad program while she was in London. She was a true artist who was near finishing her studies at the Maryland Institute of Art before the Lockerbie tragedy. Luann was a very creative person, but coupled her creativity with tangible goals in mind. She wanted to work as an artist after graduation, and had high hopes for her career. Luann was someone who loved many different aspects of life. A $1,000 scholarship in her honor was established at Sherwood High School, her alma mater, to help future artists pursue their dreams.
Produced by Chloe Gersten, Trish Kilgannon, Diana Pearl and Jack Williams.
Quilt Photos by Lenny Christopher