I'm Barbara's oldest sister, Sharon. I would like to offer my sincerest 'Thank You' to the kind people who remembered my beautiful sister. I suspect that many of you were friends of hers, both on the ground as well as in the air. She would be both happy and embarrassed at the tributes being paid to her now. But nonetheless, it fills my family's hearts with happiness and pride that she is remembered in such a loving way!
As those of you who knew her, Bobbi loved her job and was extremely proud of her many accomplishments. Even when she was a little girl, one of her favorite pastimes was playing with her Barbie dolls and the 'Barbie Dreamship.' For those of you who remember those old days, it was a toy replica of an airline cockpit. She would play for hours living vicariously through her Barbie as a flight attendant. So you see, even then, she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up!
When she fulfilled her dream, the first hub assigned to her was New York City. And I share with my sister, the love of your fabulous city. The people! The energy! May you know the world is tremendously proud of your strength, dedication and spirit to endure and show that you will never be beat! The zest and the love Bobbi had for life was exhilarating and she still had so much more she wanted to do! It's still so hard to imagine that she's really gone.
I wish you all a long, happy and peaceful life. May you remember to cherish each day given to you. Be sympathetic and compassionate (and teach sympathy and compassion to your children) to those who are different than yourself. Remember, we all share this world together.
And if I may please ask for one more favor (in honor of my sister and to the flight crew she loved), to demand stricter airport security from your elected officials. After all, Bobbi told my mother (prophetically) that if there were ever to be a terrorist attack at any airport that Logan would be the one they would choose first. As much as she loved her job, her 'flight family' and most of all her life in Massachusetts, sadly, no official (airport, government or otherwise) listened to any flight attendants' concerns and complaints. So they not only lost their lives, but also the lives of others on the ground were snuffed out as well.
Thank you for reading this tribute to a remarkable human being. And to the other family members who lost loved ones, I understand your loss and deeply feel your grief. Rest assured that they are watching over us forever. Live your life with dignity, love and courage. And may God bless you and your home.
September 11th Memorial
Barbara Jean 'Bobbi' Arestegui, Age 38
Flight Attendant, American Airlines Flight 11
From Cape Cod Times - September 14, 2001
Written by Meg Murphy
A Yarmouthport memorial service honors slain co-workers, including a Marstons Mills resident.
YARMOUTHPORT - A sea of people in crisp navy-blue uniforms gathered in front of a small chapel. The sharp scent of autumn leaves filled the air. A hot midday sun beat down. No one would take such sensations for granted again.
A tightly knit group of flight attendants for United and American airlines organized a memorial at Kelly Chapel yesterday afternoon to mourn colleagues killed in terrorist attacks Tuesday.
'It could have been any one of us on that flight on Tuesday. It could have been any one of us here,' said Kevin Merritt, a flight attendant for American Airlines.
Merritt lives in West Barnstable and works for the airline out of Logan International Airport. Dozens of airline employees who live on Cape Cod attended.
Several flight attendants said they had left their homes for the first time since Tuesday's tragedy because they needed to be among colleagues and begin to heal.
Many of the American Airlines employees wore gold wings on their blazer lapels. Almost everyone wept openly as they filed into wooden pews. They sat closely, shoulders touching; within moments nothing but standing room remained.
At the front of the chapel, a photograph of a young couple was placed on a bouquet of summer flowers. All eyes seemed fixed on the photograph.
Pictured were Amy R. King and Michael C. Tarrou, a Natick couple who were working as flight attendants on United Airlines Flight 175 when it left Boston for Los Angeles at 8:14 a.m. Tuesday. Hijackers crashed the plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center about 45 minutes later.
Many of the United Airlines employees at the service had known the couple well.
Just as many American Airlines employees knew Barbara Arestegui, known to friends as Bobby, a Marstons Mills resident who was working on American Airlines Flight 11.
Her flight left Logan at 7:59 a.m. for Los Angeles. It was crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:45 a.m.
These were just three of the 33 names read aloud in tribute to the four crews who perished on Tuesday.
Merritt reminded his colleagues to be careful with their loved ones.
'We don't know from one day to the next what could take place. As we put our faith in the captain, we just have to put our faith in God.,' he said.
'After something like this, it makes it ten-fold important we say we love each other.'
But one flight attendant, who asked not to be identified, said she may never fly again.
'I can't even imagine getting on an airplane and looking at a passenger's face and not wondering if they are a terrorist. I can't imagine feeling safe on an airplane.'
Remembering fallen friends
An American Airlines attendant began to shake and sob as she began to read the names of people lost on Flights 11 and 77.
Another attendant gently took the list from her and read:
'Captain John Ogonowski, Thomas McGuinness, Barbara Arestegui, Jeffrey Collman, Sara Low, Karen Martin, Kathleen Nicosia, Betty Ong, Jean Roger, Dianne Snyder, Madeline Sweeney.
'Captain Charles Burlingame, David Charlebois, Michele Heidenberger, Jennifer Lewis, Kenneth Lewis, Renee May.'
A United Airlines attendant also struggled to steady her voice as she named the friends lost on Flight 175 and Flight 93.
'Captain Jason Dahl, Leroy Homer, Lorraine G. Bay, Sandra W. Bradshaw, Wanda A. Green, Ceecee Lyles, Deborah Welsh.
'Captain Victor Saracini, Michael Horrocks, Robert Fangman, Amy Jarett, Amy King, Kathryn Laborie, Alfred Marchand, Michael Tarrou, Alicia Titus.'
Many people hugged each other or linked hands; their voices grew stronger as they prayed together.
'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,' they said, quoting Psalm 23.
People stood to speak of their lost friends and how they had narrowly escaped death themselves.
'I should have been on that flight,' said Barbara McFarland, a West Yarmouth resident who worked on the same crew as King and Tarrou. She had swapped shifts with another attendant.
Other flight attendants came over to hug McFarland and remind her not to take on blame for a senseless tragedy. She told stories about the great fun shared with King and Tarrou at jazz clubs and restaurants during stopovers in Chicago.
'We will never know what the future would have in store for them or the rest of our colleagues on United and American Airlines,' said Luiz Avelar, a United Airlines attendant who organized the ceremony with his wife, Michelle.
Colleagues remembered Arestegui as a woman who brightened their days with a contagious laugh and lively personality. She was so small she could fit anywhere in the plane, they joked, even the carrier racks.
'Obviously our Heavenly Father wanted her beautiful smiling face with him. She will be greatly missed but never forgotten,' said one colleague.
Maureen Mahoney, a United Airlines flight attendant who lives in Dennis, remembered Arestegui from shared layovers in the late 1970s. She said the flight attendants who live on the Cape are a close group.
'I knew one of these girls. I knew the Newark girls,' said Mahoney, referring to the crew who died when Flight 93 from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco crashed outside Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
'We are here to pay tribute to our friends who were murdered,' said Avelar.
Donna Hanlon, a United Airlines flight attendant who lives in East Sandwich, said people grow close in this business.
'I came out to be with all the people that I know,' she said. 'It is just important to have the support of your friends.'
Hanlon said she is determined to continue flying.
'We won't stop. The air transportation has to go on. It is like driving to work. You don't think about having an accident on the way. This is our job.'
Marstons Mills man mourns girlfriend, an attendant on hijacked plane from Boston
Written by Trevor Maxwell
He can see her clothes hung neatly in the closets. Her cats wander upstairs and back down to the kitchen, where one of her old passports lies on a table.
For a moment, he thinks Bobbi will call from Los Angeles to say everything is all right.
But it isn't. The answering machine fills with sympathetic voices. The refrigerator is stocked with food brought by friends. Television airs hourly reminders of loss.
His girlfriend of six years, Bobbi Arestegui, 38, was a flight attendant for American Airlines. She was on the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center.
For two decades Wayne Nichols, 46, has been a psychotherapist, helping people touched by tragedy. He has counseled parents who lost children; wives who lost husbands.
As a consultant with the Coast Guard at Air Station Cape Cod, his job was to debrief traumatized workers, like those who sifted through the remains of the 1999 EgyptAir crash or who looked for a fallen president's son two summers ago in the Atlantic.
'My job is to pick up the pieces of lives that have been shattered, to help people through grieving and give them hope,' Wayne said, sitting in his living room Sunday.
But he had never analyzed his own grief. He had not walked those steps he spoke about so many times with his clients.
'The training does not make any difference. A surgeon can't do surgery on himself. I have an intellectual understanding of it, and I may know the territory, but I don't know it this way.'
Bobbi was not scheduled to work Flight 11 that day. But she had accepted extra flights; she was saving up her earned vacation to take a trip with Wayne at the end of September.
'She had been flying a lot. We had not seen each other much, and both of us had been talking about getting away,' Wayne said. 'We were going to go to Vermont.'
Instead, Wayne and Bobbi's mother and sister, who flew from California to Massachusetts Saturday to be with him, are arranging memorial services on both coasts.
* * *
The relationship, appropriately, began in the sky.
Seven years ago, Wayne was on an American Airlines flight, coming back to the Cape from his father's memorial service in the Caribbean.
'The first thing I noticed, of course, was that she is absolutely beautiful,' he said. 'We had a nice talk, probably for about 15 minutes. I asked her if it would be possible to get her phone number.'
She told him sternly: 'No, I don't give out my home number.'
Wayne shrugged his shoulders and walked away, thinking: I gave it my best shot. She stopped him with one word.
'But,' she said.
'I'll give it to you.'
It seemed an odd match.
He was a New Englander, having grown up on Martha's Vineyard and Newton, returning from graduate school in Maryland to practice psychotherapy in a small office at Barnstable Harbor.
She was living in Washington, D.C., the middle of five girls from a California family with Spanish Basque roots. Two of the girls would join the tight-knit community of flight attendants.
After countless telephone conversations between her apartment and his home in Marstons Mills, Bobbi agreed to visit. On Super Bowl Sunday, 1995, Wayne took her to Alberto's Ristorante in Hyannis.
'The weather was awful and there was nobody out. She asked me if people actually lived here.'
Cape Cod in winter was a world apart from the frenetic bustle of JFK and Dulles Airports in New York City and Washington. She liked it right away. Less than a year later, Bobbi moved up to be with Wayne; Boston's Logan International Airport became her home base.
Eventually the couple bought a new home in Marstons Mills, up the road from Wayne's old place. She got used to driving her car to Sagamore, where she caught the bus to Boston. Her typical schedule was three or four days on followed by three or four days home.
She turned their house into a cozy retreat with a garden out back. They made a habit of walking the cranberry bogs, picking blueberries and having breakfast at the Mills Restaurant. She loved to cook - she dreamed of attending culinary school.
Bobbi picked up three stray and abused cats: Olive, Bruiser and Pumpkin. She'd loved animals since she was a kid in Hawthorne, a suburb of Los Angeles.
'She was a gentle person, yet tough when she needed to be,' said Rosie Arestegui, who gave her daughter Barbara the nickname Bobbi. 'She knew her job so well. She could do two or three people's work, plus hers, and it would be done perfectly.'
Colleagues of Bobbi repeated that praise when Wayne met them in Boston on Friday. He talked with more than 50 people who knew his girlfriend through work. They remembered her as energetic; a huge heart in a 5-foot-3-inch frame.
'I was amazed at how many people had stories about her,' said Wayne, who stayed past midnight at the hotel where American Airlines held its gathering. 'She was extremely popular. I was blown away.'
* * *
Bobbi, I miss you. I hate it that you have to work so much, but I do understand. I can't wait to have a vacation with you. I need to see you more. I love you. Wayne.
The words are scrawled on a piece of yellow paper. He had left it on the table for her to see before she left the house on Tuesday morning, Sept. 11.
Later last week he pulled it from the trash and smoothed its edges.
She got up about 2:30 that morning and within a few hours was out the door.
'Usually she wakes me up when she leaves. She didn't wake me up this time,' he said.
But she did keep another of their rituals: At 6:45 a.m., he got a phone call from the airport.
'She told me that she was just about to board. She was waiting for them to finish cleaning the plane,' he said. 'She was in a wonderful mood, better than normal.'
A few hours later, Wayne flicked on a television at home. The image was on every channel: Something had crashed into the first World Trade Center tower.
'I did not think about her until they said it was a commercial jet that hit the building. When they said hijacked plane from Boston, I just started shaking and screaming.'
Wayne had been nervous about Bobbi's job, but those were thoughts he tucked in the back of his mind. She told him that she had been flying regularly for 13 years and nothing had happened, so there was no reason to be afraid.
Now he watched as his future was stolen in a single moment.
The phone started ringing Tuesday morning, and it has barely been silent since. Wayne initially told friends that he wanted to be alone, but they knew better. A good friend knocked at the door early in the day and refused to leave. After forcing Wayne to eat lunch, the friend said: 'You're going to have to make me leave, you know. I'm Irish.'
Wayne said he would not have made it through the past week without the support of his friends and family. And he runs. It centers his thoughts. A lifelong athlete, Wayne has been competing in triathlons for years. It was a sports metaphor that came to mind when he described his emotions.
'I've been in Ironman races where the pain is so great, but you endure because you can visualize the finish line,' he said. 'In this, I don't even know where the finish line is.'
But the grief counselor in Wayne knows this: The first days and weeks after a tragedy are the easiest. Support is at its peak and hours are filled with the necessity of official forms and memorial services.
The hardest time is yet to come, when the visits and phone calls slow down and the survivors are left alone.
'I don't know what I am going to do,' he said, sitting farther back on the living room couch. 'You can't shut down the thoughts. You can't get it out of your mind.'
He wonders how long it will take before he stops reaching out for her in the morning. And he grieves for the others who wake with that same instinct, crushed again and again by the empty spaces they find.
Far from Manhattan's twin towers, far from just about anywhere, she would stretch out on the floor by a wood fire, with three cats and tea and a James Taylor album going. There, in the village of Marstons Mills on Cape Cod, Barbara Jean Arestegui could collect herself, after her three days on duty as a flight attendant for American Airlines.
Bobbi Arestegui, 38, an attendant for 13 years, knew one thing well: how to relax.
On the Cape, she gathered the strength that made her the usual choice to handle any problem passenger. Ms. Arestegui, at a disarming 5-foot-3, could sit next to an overwrought traveler and listen for hours.
On Sept. 11, she was up and out of the house at 3:30 a.m. to be ready to attend to the passengers on Flight 11. In Boston, she reported in at 6:30 for the departure from Logan International Airport. Flight 11 took off right on time, at 7:59.
Later that week, her longtime companion, Wayne Nichols, found among her things a folder she had kept hidden, filled with notes from passengers over the years. One, on the back of a receipt and dated Aug. 13, said simply, ''Thanks for the service.''
Psychotherapist Wayne Nichols spent two decades helping others touched by tragedy. He lost his fiance Bobbi Arestegui in the September 11th terrorist attacks. He shares his memories of her and what the experience taught him about grief as well as his thoughts on the war on terror.
WCAI - The Cape and Islands NPR Station - The Point hosted by Mindy Todd
Interview with Barbara's Fiancee Wayne Nichols 9/10/07
*The interview lasts approximately 25 minutes. As Wayne speaks, the listener gets an inside look at The Real Barbara Arestegui of Leuzinger's Class of 1980. I found myself smiling and laughing as he spoke about her... and I also found myself with tears in my eyes. This is the interview you want to listen to...
$1-million memorial for 'first responders in uniform' to die in terror attacks
July 5th, 2008
GRAPEVINE, Texas - On a pedestal in a Texas intersection hundreds of miles from where terrorists crashed planes seven years ago, two flight attendants and two pilots, rendered in bronze, now care for a traveling child.
The sculpture was dedicated Friday, the Fourth of July, to honor the 33 airline crew members killed when terrorists hijacked and crashed two American Airlines flights and two United Airlines flights in the East on Sept. 11, 2001.
Hundreds of guests, many of them relatives of the fallen crew members, gathered in the north Texas heat in Grapevine to listen to bagpipes and patriotic songs, speeches about heroism, and prayers during the ceremony.
Grapevine is home to many airline employees stationed at nearby Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and American Airlines is headquartered in Fort Worth.
'In the line of duty'
American Airlines flight attendant Valerie Thompson, one of the memorial's organizers, said the project was designed to honor crew members whose efforts to stop the hijackers and alert authorities she believes have been mostly overlooked.
'We don't necessarily think of flight crews as first responders, and they were really the very first responders in uniform that day to die in the line of duty,' said Thompson, founder of the 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial Foundation, which spearheaded the $1 million public monument and plaza project.
Thompson said the foundation raised about $300,000 of the cost in a grass-roots effort which consisted of numerous $1 and $5 donations. The city of Grapevine and a developer donated the land and labor for the project.
As he admired the sculpture, Marty Fangman, 59, of Keller, whose brother Bobby, 33, was a flight attendant on United Flight 175, praised the effort.
'It was a long time coming, but they did an excellent job,' Fangman said, adding that he hopes organizers are able to raise funds needed to add a water feature to complete the memorial.
Bobby Fangman's mother, Ruth Fangman, 81, of Claymont, Del., said the monument honoring the flight crews was needed.
'This is such a special tribute, and I know that Bobby will be smiling down. He'd always tell me, 'Mom, get on a plane every day. Go someplace.' It's still the safest way to travel,' she said.
Sculpted in hangar
Although the flight crews were based in Boston, Washington and New York, Thompson said it was fitting that the memorial be in Grapevine.
'We felt the passion here as much as anybody else in the system,' she said.
Her husband, Dean Thompson, who sculpted the work in an aircraft hangar, said the horrific events caused the airline community to come together 'to form a brotherhood' much like those of firefighters and police.
Shirley Hall, vice president of the 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial Foundation, said the memorial symbolizes the valor, dedication and commitment that flight crews demonstrate each day. She told the audience to remember that 'the site is on sacred ground.'
'Walk quietly, speak softly, pray if you will, cry if you must, but always look to the skies,' Hall said. 'To our heroes: first taken, last remembered, now honored.'
Leuzinger's Barbara 'Bobbi' Arestegui was an American Airlines Flight Attendant onboard AA Flt 11. She was stabbed prior to the 757's crash into the north face of the North Tower of the World Trade Center between floors 93 and 99.
Knowing all the clinical techniques for overcoming grief has not helped Wayne Nichols' personal grieving process.
Six months have not softened the sadness and loss that the Barnstable psychotherapist felt when his fiancee, Barbara 'Bobbi' Arestegui, died on American Airlines Flight 11 on Sept. 11.
'All that I have is so cognitive and this is on a different realm,' he said. 'I'm at the ground level like everybody else.'
After the tragedy, Nichols changed jobs, becoming regional manager for an employee assistance program he declined to name. The company works directly with people living and working at Ground Zero in New York City.
The six-month anniversary will be difficult for him and for all those closely affected by the events of Sept. 11. 'You come to these anniversaries and it comes right back,' he said.
Nichols, 46, said he has found that the effects, both physically and emotionally, have lingered the longest for those closest to the event. The farther one gets from New York and Washington, the less it pervades their daily lives, he said.
'For most people, it's a TV thing. It has a Hollywood quality to it,' he said.
Even in New York City, Nichols said there is a difference in the way New Yorkers in Lower Manhattan are dealing with the tragedy as opposed to those in Upper Manhattan.
But while the majority of people he has seen in both his practice and in New York appear to be getting back to their routines, he said you don't have to scratch too far below the surface to find lingering pain and fear.
'People are still trying to figure out the lessons,' he said.
Nichols is dealing with his grief by trying to keep Arestegui's memory alive.
'If you knew her personality, it's not hard,' he said. 'Every day I see something and I'm reminded of her.'
Nichols is also focusing on planning a memorial ceremony and has planted a tree in her memory at their Marstons Mills home.
He is also hoping to create a scholarship at Barnstable High School in her name. Arestegui's dream was to be a chef, and Nichols said he will give the scholarship to an aspiring culinary arts student.
The flight attendants killed on Sept. 11 have not had as much attention as have the firefighters and police officers who died that day, Nichols said. But in his mind, Arestegui, 38, was as much of a hero as anyone.
There is evidence that she was the first victim of the attack. She was killed by the terrorists when she tried to protect the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11, he said.
'She had to face these monsters,' he said of the 5-foot-3-inch, 100-pound woman.
Nichols had some solace that the general public was reminded of Arestegui when her name was the first one read during half-time at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
He said he will continue to use the clinical approaches to grieving that he knows so well to help others, and to help himself when he can. But he knows it is a path made new by each suffering soul.
'There's no cookie cutter approach. The way to survive is you try to find the silver lining of some kind. And you try to live out some of the ideals of that person and incorporate them into yours.'
Four months after Sept. 11, Wayne Nichols took a Caribbean vacation.
'For the first time, I felt a little happy for a week, just because I was able to get away from it all,' said Nichols, a 48-year-old psychotherapist whose office overlooks Barnstable Harbor.
But when he came home, that was the worst week, he said. 'It was cold, I felt so bad.'
He was in the depths of mourning his girlfriend of six years, Bobbi Arestegui, a 38-year-old flight attendant, who died when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
'I woke up one morning and said 'that's it.' I'm not going to feel like this anymore,' he said.
That day, he moved some furniture in the Marstons Mills home they owned together. For the first time, he allowed the place to be something other than a shrine to the life he shared with Arestegui.
Two months later, Arestegui, a beautiful woman with Spanish Basque roots, came to him in a dream. 'She told me, her wish was for me to live my life. And I protested, but she said, 'You've got a chance to go on and live.''
So that was it. If there was meaning to be gained, that was it.
'It takes a while, and there are many lapses,' he said.
But two years later, Nichols can count the ways he's grabbed at life's precious offerings.
He took a new job. Now, rather than working as a consultant with the Coast Guard at Air Station Cape Cod helping traumatized rescue workers - a job too heart-rending after Sept. 11 - he manages a team of employee assistance therapists around the country by telephone and computer.
He stopped participating in iron man triathlons.
'It was an obsession,' he said, and he felt it robbed him of other interests.
Three weeks ago, he moved out of the Marstons Mills home and into a house in Yarmouthport. He wouldn't discuss other details of his personal life. But he is moving on.
The years have taught him, even as a therapist, he knew nothing about grief, he said.
The concept of 'closure' one embraced by many counselors, is a myth, he said.
Really, the loss will never end, like the chapter in a book.
The process of grief, begins with 'feeling lousy' and may take many twists into anger, political action, lawsuits, he said. Ultimately the pain shifts from foreground to background. At its best, grief is an opportunity to grow and to learn, he said.
He recalled the words of a photographer documenting the carnage at ground zero. 'I've got it,' the photographer had said. 'You've got to live.'
As a little girl, Bobbi was a member of Hawthorne's Brownie Troop 1313.
Bobbi was married to Danny Allen Ortega of Leuzinger High School's Class of 1980 on June 28th 1981, but they later divorced in 1988. Danny and Barbara remained friends.
Prior to her 12 years at American Airlines, Bobbi worked as a F/A at Eastern Airlines. Eastern Airlines ceased operations in 1991. Frank Lorenzo acquired Eastern in 1985 and moved many of its assets to his other airlines, including Continental Airlines and Texas Air. After continued labor disputes and a crippling strike in 1989, Eastern ran out of money and was liquidated in 1991.
Bobbi subscribed to Best Friends Animal Society and was a huge animal lover. She loved helping stray and unwanted cats. She frequently visited shelters just to play with the animals.
Bobbi was also a member of the Ladybug Knitting Club which met at The Ladybug Knitting Shop in Dennis, Massachussetts. The knitters oooh'd and aaah'd over their completed projects and exchanged knitting tips. And in true community spirit, every month the group would get together for a huge potluck where knitters would talk with old friends and meet new ones. The shop has since closed its doors.
I can't believe this is real. Bobbi was one of my closest friends when we were children. She and her family lived across the street from me in Hawthorne, CA. Today is April 14, 2003 and this morning I was looking through some old photos and found a picture of Bobbi and me and the rest of Brownie Troop 1313. In the photo she was standing right beside me, as usual. Since I hadn't seen her in many years (though I'd thought of her often) I decided to do a search for her on the the internet. I'm still in shock from what I found. My thoughts are with her family (especially her mom Rosie and her sisters). The death of such a person as Bobbi is hard to bear. I am so sorry...