In memorian

Terrorism Strikes America


September 13, 2001

Here are short sketches of the first Marylanders known to have died in Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

All but one were aboard American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon Tuesday morning.

Sara Clark

Sara Clark, 65, taught school for nearly half her life and was looking forward to retirement next year.

She boarded Flight 77 with several children from her sixth-grade class at Backus Middle School in Washington. They were on a class trip to Santa Cruz, Calif., said her close friend John Milton Wesley, 52, a spokesman for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.

"She was originally supposed to go to Florida, but two weeks ago they changed it and told her she was going to California," Mr. Wesley said from the Columbia home he and Ms. Clark shared. The couple had recently returned from a long vacation and Ms. Clark wanted a break from traveling, he said.

Mr. Wesley said Ms. Clark loved children. The couple spent part of Saturday sorting books they had collected for children living in public housing and for students at Backus Middle School.

"The best way I can describe her is she saw the same old world each day with new eyes, and her compassion never blinked," he said.

Ms. Clark earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from North Carolina's Winston-Salem Teachers College, now Winston-Salem State University, in 1962, and a master's degree in special studies and urban learning from George Washington University in 1975.

She leaves a daughter in Laurel and a son in Denver.

Though he continues to watch news accounts of the terrorist attack, Mr. Wesley said he isn't concerned about the investigation into who is to blame.

"That has no collateral value for me," he said. "The only thing I can reflect on is what we had and how much she affected my life. She made me so much of a better person, a better man."

-- Laurie Willis

Leslie A. Whittington

Charles S. Falkenberg

Zoe and Dana Falkenberg

Leslie A. Whittington was a Georgetown University economist who studied the effects of taxation on family behavior. Charles S. Falkenberg, her husband, was a software engineer who headed the volunteer program at his older daughter's elementary school.

Zoe Falkenberg, 8, was a soccer player and talented singer who appeared in a community musical production. Dana Falkenberg, 3, was in pre-school.

The family had just sold their University Park home and were traveling to Australia for Ms. Whittington's sabbatical.

Ms. Whittington, 45, was a longtime University of Maryland educator who became an associate professor of public policy at Georgetown in 1997. Colleagues called her a popular teacher with an active interest in tax policies and the status of women in industrialized and developing countries.

Mr. Falkenberg, 45, was the director of research at ECOlogic Corp. in Herndon, Va. He had recently completed a study of the Exxon Valdez oil spill that found lasting repercussions a decade afterward, according to company spokeswoman Chris Dooley.

Ms. Whittington was the co-author of several papers with James Alm on the effects of taxation on marital decisions, including a 1998 study that found the federal government would gain substantial revenue if same-sex couples were permitted to marry.

Mr. Alm, a Georgia State University professor and a family friend, described Ms. Whittington as "funny, quick-witted and loyal and warm." He said she was a skilled skier and an enthusiastic cook.

Mr. Falkenberg left college to found a computer business but later earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Maryland, Mr. Alm said.

"He was very cerebral in an engaging way," he added.

Mr. Falkenberg and Ms. Whittington "were not only very good neighbors but very good citizens of the community," said University Park Mayor John L. Brunner, who lived across the street from the family.

The family had planned to move to Chevy Chase after their return from Australia in November.

-- Michael Dresser

Renee May

Renee May, an American Airlines flight attendant, lived in South Baltimore and worked as a volunteer guide at the Walters Art Museum.

She was the oldest of three children and grew up in California. Barbara J. Strong, her aunt, said Ms. May, 39, had been a flight attendant for about 10 years.

Terri O'Heir, an American Airlines flight attendant who lives in Stoneleigh, said Ms. May was "just someone you always liked to see."

"She was lovely. You knew flying with her you were flying with a professional," Ms. O'Heir said.

Gary Vikan, director of the Walters, said he first met Ms. May as a student in a continuing studies course at the Johns Hopkins University eight or nine years ago. She subsequently became a docent at the museum, leading tours for schoolchildren. She often wrote Mr. Vikan detailed messages on issues affecting the museum.

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