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Flight 261

Yesterday and today I felt impressed to be especially thankful! Today at 4:17 PM I would like each one of you to take a moment of silence. January 31, 2000; Sometime after 4:17 PM Alaska flight 261 disappeared off the radar screens. A list of people aboard that flight are listed in this email and our names, Don and Jeanne Vories are missing. Undoubtedly today will be very painful for the members of those families. But today, it is a very special day for Jeanne and I. We were listed to be on that flight. It is only by God's grace and his intervention by speaking through my lips the previous Tuesday, January 25, 2000, when on Jeanne's birthday I decided to surprise her with a trip to Puerto Vallarta that next week-end leaving on Thursday evening January 27. The plan was to stay in Seattle overnight and leave on the early morning flight Friday, returning on flight 261, Monday, January 31, 2000 leaving around 3:15 PM. That never happened! Why?

It was on that Tuesday evening around 7 PM as I remember, I called Alaska Airlines, listed on that return flight to Puerto Vallarta then calling Vacation Internationale for reservation at our Time Share for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, January 28,29 and 30. All was OK except they had no opening for Friday evening. "The next week-end was open," the person at the other end of the phone replied. Since there was special significance about that week-end, I had to be on that flight, therefore, I said, "I have ticket's for this next week-end and I know you can get me a room for Friday night and you can put me on hold while you go and get it." (was I contoling or what) What seemed like hours with a small voice saying, "next week-end will be fine" I ignored that thought and persued my plans of leaving that next week-end. Finally, the operator came back on the line and said, "I have it taken care of, Friday night is yours," and what came from my lips, today makes me feel so powerless and yet at the time I felt like I must be so out of control and thoughts that I must be going crazy, no that is not me saying this, please I want to go this week-end and this lady made it all available and yet, I said, "Next week-end will be fine," in a calm voice with no emotion. Then, the operator said, "sorry I must have the wrong line, is this Don Vories?" I returned with confirmation she did have Don Vories and she heard right, the following week-end February 4,5 and 6 would be fine. I am sure after all that she went through to get me that night and then to turn her down she must have thought this is a crazy person on the other end of the line! Twice I had the opportunity to revert back to my plans of leaving on that mini-vacation and twice I said "no, next week-end will be fine." No, it was not me.....

Was I going crazy? Did someone know flight 261 was going down to destruction? Yes, there was and that person was God. He was not finished with me and wanted to use me to his glory! Today, at this moment I share this testimony with reverance, awe and complete powerlessness. There are no words I can say that will do justice sharing this experience.

Today, Tuesday, January 31, at 4 PM, I am inviting you and others that might want to come for a moment of silence and celebration of God's love and intervening in not only my life that day six years ago, but also what he is doing for all of us every minute of every day. Have you ever thought that God has protected you from destruction at some point in your life and you don't even know it? Also, to pray for each family member that lost their loved one(s) that day six years ago.

I would like to beleive the following story is true. Every time I read this I think of Jeanne and I sitting there in our seats, holding hands and maybe praying the Lord's prayer. Also thinking about the results of my always wanting to be in control. Today, I thank God those controlling days are over, although there times when it wants to stick up its ugly head.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email. It has done a lot for me to write down the events of that evening and to express my thoughts and feelings. All I can say in closing is, "thank you Jesus!"

Your Friend,


Names of those aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 261
February 4, 2000
Web posted at: 2:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT)

Here are the names and background information, where available, of the 88 people (83 passengers and five crew members) on board Alaska Airlines Flight 261.

All were killed on January 31 when the plane, heading to San Francisco and Seattle from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, crashed into the Pacific Ocean not far from Los Angeles.

The passengers included several "non-revenue" travelers -- airline employees, family members and friends.


Capt. Ted Thompson, 53, of Redlands, California, was the pilot of Flight 261. Based in Los Angeles, Thompson was hired by the airline on August 16, 1982, after spending eight years flying C-141 cargo planes for the Air Force. Thompson had a total of 10,400 "DC-9 hours" -- a rating that includes experience on MD-90 and MD-80 aircraft -- and had served as a flight safety instructor.

First Officer William Tansky, 57, of Alameda, California. Based in Los Angeles, Tansky was hired on July 17, 1985, with 20 years' experience flying transport aircraft for the Navy. He had 8,047 DC-9 hours with Alaska Airlines.

Allison Shanks, 33, flight attendant, based in Seattle. She was hired on December 10, 1988.

Shanks was born in Plainview, on Long Island. The family moved twice within New York, then to Los Angeles and York, Pennsylvania, before settling in Lassaquah, Washington, according to her aunt Joan Bourginon.

"On Christmas Day, they used to come to our house, and then we would go to my sister's house in Somers (New York) and they would try on clothes," Bourginon said.

Craig Pulanco, 30, flight attendant, based in Seattle. He was hired on July 1, 1996.

Kristin Mills, 26, flight attendant, Las Vegas. She was hired May 31, 1999.


Larry Baldridge Jr. of Novato, California, was a savvy businessman taking advantage of the Internet boom.

He began to set up a venture capital business with Michael Schwab, the son of legendary brokerage leader Charles Schwab.

Baldridge had joined Nina Voronoff, 32, of San Francisco, who had gone to Mexico for a yoga retreat. The two then spent a 10-day vacation there.

A nurse at the University of California, San Francisco, Voronoff worked in the pediatric cancer unit.

At Creditland Inc., which offers online credit to consumers, Baldridge was vice president of business development.

"Every deal I do is something I learned from him," said Michael Schwab, who worked under Baldridge at Creditland, a startup in San Francisco's Multimedia Gulch area. "He was an Internet guru who knew how to put together a finance deal."

Renato Bermudez, of San Francisco, was a firefighter who helped save a life in July 1998.

He and another firefighter used a ladder to rescue the victim from the second floor of a burning building in the city's Mission District.

Bermudez won commendations from a booster group for the action. The San Francisco fire department lowered its flags to half-staff in mourning.

Michael Bernard, 30, Seattle

Malcolm Branson, 39, Seward, Alaska

William Bryant, 45, San Francisco

Ryan Busche, 28, Seattle

Abigail Busche, 28, Seattle

Gabriella Chavez, 33, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Toni Choate, a Santa Cruz man who was living as a woman, was returning to the San Francisco Bay area with his daughter, Jacquelyn Choate, 18, after vacationing in Mexico.

Toni Choate was a general contractor and cabinet finisher originally from Visalia, California. He was formerly known as Larry D. Choate, but changed his name and started living as a woman in the mid-1990s, according to friends and relatives in California's San Joaquin Valley.

Until the early 1990s, Larry Choate worked with his father building houses in the Visalia area.

He then moved to Sacramento, California, living there about five years and building redwood decks for condominiums, said Vicki Elliott, a friend. Sometime during that period, Choate began to identify himself as a woman.

Choate moved to Santa Cruz in 1995 and bought the Savoy Bar in Santa Clara, California. About a year ago, Choate moved to San Francisco.

Jacquelyn Choate grew up in Sacramento. "They were real close," Elliott said of the father and daughter.

Sherry Christiansen, 25, Horizon Air ground service agent based in Seattle

David and Carolyn Clemetson, of Seattle, and family members Coriander, 9, Blake, 7, Miles, 6, and Spencer, 6 months. David Clemetson, 40, was a doctor who specialized in internal medicine

John Cuthbertson, 70, Danville, California

Monte Donaldson 31, of Seattle was a free-lance landscaper and disc jockey. He and Colleen Whorley, 34, planned to marry in September. Whorley, of Seattle, was an art director at Microsoft Corp. and had just bought a home with Donaldson.

Dean Forshee, 47, of Benicia, California, devoted his life to music.

The professional musician was a skilled pedal steel, acoustic and electric guitar player who taught lessons. His favorite styles were country and rockabilly, and he played with several local bands.

"He was always the most disciplined of musicians. He always complained that the other musicians would not watch me for the cut-off," said Sheila Hittle, music director at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, where Forshee performed since the 1970s.

He had been married for five years to Susan da Silva, who was not aboard the plane.

Jerri Fosmire, 48, Eugene, Oregon

Allen Friedmann of Round Lake Beach, Illinois

Jean Gandesbery of San Francisco. The teacher at the University of San Francisco recently had her childhood memoirs, "Seven Mile Lake," published by Minerva Press. She was returning from vacation with her husband Robert Gandesbery, who was retired.

After a student died two months ago, Gandesbery turned sadly to a colleague and said, "We never really do know how much time we have."

"It was really prophetic and really sad," said Lisa Morana, interim director of USF's Sacramento campus, where Gandesbery taught writing as an adjunct instructor.

"She really had a significant impact on all of her students. They did a lot of personal writing and they got to know each other very well," Morana said.

"They're really nice people. They're just such pleasant people," said Jerome Vigil, who was house-sitting for the couple and watching over their golden retrievers, Emma and Casey.

Meghann Hall of Enumclaw, Washington (traveling with Horizon Air employee Rachel Janosik)

Aloysius Han, 65, often traveled to Mexico, where he owned a condominium and other property.

He worked as an architect for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for nearly two decades, retiring in 1989. After retirement, Han lived with his mother in Oakland, California, and spent much of his time caring for exotic birds, his koi pond and a garden.

Barbara Hatleberg, 64, Eugene, Oregon

Glenn Hatleberg, 65, Eugene, Oregon

Robert Hovey, 50, lived on a sailboat in the east San Francisco Bay. His business and skiing partner remembers his infectious smile and zest for life.

Russell Ing, 28, recently of Eugene, Oregon

Rachel Janosik, 20, of Enumclaw, Washington. Horizon Air food and beverage agent, based in Seattle.

Former San Francisco police office Karl Karlsson, 51, and his wife, Carol Karlsson, 42, lived a life focused on fun and parties, friends and family said.

In their comfortable house south of Petaluma, California, the bar was always stocked, and the house featured a jukebox, a pinball machine and a bumper pool table. Outside, there was a hot tub, a pool and a riding lawn mower -- which they rode for both maintenance and amusement.

"I don't remember him ever being intense, nor very serious. A lot of times he was happy-go-lucky, sort of having a good time," said Joe Fitzpatrick, who once worked with Karl.

The couple had been on vacation in Mexico, where they went almost every year.

The two met while shooting pool in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. "Carol kicked his butt," said Lisa Champion, Karlsson's older daughter.

Carol Karlsson was born and raised in San Francisco. She recently retired from her job as an office manager in the city.

Karl Karlsson, a native Icelander, built his home 23 years ago. Recently, he erected on his property a shed that looks like a church. He said its Scandinavian architecture reminded him of his native land.

Linda Knight, 51, and Joseph Knight, 54, co-pastors of Rock Church Northwest in Monroe, Washington. The couple had been in Puerto Vallarta doing missionary work after 15 years of outreach on the streets of Seattle.

The Knights, in a July 1998 story in The Herald of Everett, Washington, said they gathered food, raised $3,700 to build showers and toilets and worked to buy a school building for teaching English and the Bible to children living in poverty. Much of the support came from corporations.

"As a team, we have been able to get companies like Alaska Airlines to donate food for the children," Mrs. Knight told the paper. "This isn't one of those things where we do a missionary trip and then forget about it," she said. "This is going to be our lifelong work."

William Knudson, 53, helped found Inland Business Systems, a business machines company, in 1977. Traveling with his partner, Bradley Long, 39, of Sacramento, California. The two were returning home after visiting the bed and breakfast inn they owned in Puerto Vallarta.

Naomi and Rodrigo Laigo of Fairfield, California, were on vacation in Mexico enjoying one of their favorite leisure pursuits: golf.

The couple were remembered also for their devotion to their family, especially their three sons. "They were nice people, the type of people who have their priorities together, the type of people you really want in your neighborhood," said their friend, Francis Gella.

Naomi Laigo, 53, was a nurse at a clinic in San Leandro and grew roses in her spare time. Rodrigo, 53, was an engineer for Arco. The couple had recently moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles.

Joyce Lake and her husband Ronald Lake, of Corte Madera, California. Joyce Lake was one of the top sellers at Frank Howard Allen Realtors. She was also an avid community volunteer and a world traveler. The couple visited Chile last year and Africa in 1998.

James Luque of San Francisco worked for a catering company and was planning a celebration for his 42nd birthday this month.

Juan Marquez of San Francisco

Robert Ost of San Bruno, California, considered risk part of the job and part of life. A 15-year veteran of the South San Francisco Fire Department, he was also an avid paraglider and mountain climber.

"To me, what he always did was risk, but he was always safe in doing it," said John Lucia, an assistant fire chief.

Ost, his wife Ileana -- who worked for the airline as a customer service representative -- and their daughter, Emily, all were on Flight 261.

Another couple, Jean Permison, Ileana Ost's mother, and Charles Russell, both of Scotts Valley, California, also were aboard.

Cynthia Oti , of Oakland, California, was an investment broker who knew how to save and how to spend, how to work and how to play.

"She enjoyed life," said Greg Raab, public relations and marketing manager for San Francisco radio station KSFO, where Oti was host of a nightly radio show on investing. "She told people to save and have a plan for the future, but not to deny oneself. She said it on the air and she lived it."

Colleagues said Oti's career as a broadcaster was beginning to take off. For four years, she did a three-hour Sunday show, but last spring, KSFO asked her to take on a prime-time, Monday-through-Friday slot. She indulged herself by buying a Jaguar.

She had treated herself to a weekend getaway in Puerto Vallarta where Flight 261 originated. She loved the music of Eric Clapton and collected expensive champagne.

Oti was supposed to go on the air two hours after the flight was scheduled to land in San Francisco.

"It's terrible news for us," talk show host Gene Burns told listeners. "Many of us have lost a friend, a colleague and an absolutely, thoroughly delightful human being."

Sarah Pearson, 36. The Alaska Airlines flight attendant, based in Seattle, was on vacation with her family.

Gilbert Manning of Spokane, Washington, hoped in vain that Sarah, his youngest daughter, was not on the plane. "I think she could calm the world, just by her smile. She could make people laugh all the time," Manning said.

Lost with her in the crash were her husband, Rod Pearson, co-owner of two Seattle restaurants, and their children, Rachel, 6, and Grace, 23 months.

"Rod was finally at a time in his life where he could take some time off," Manning said. "God has a funny way of making you suffer," he said. "I feel like Job right now."

Deborah Penna, 27

Stanford Poll, 59, had many business and property interests in Mercer Island, Washington. He is survived by wife Gabriel and two college-age daughters.

Anjesh Prasad, 19, Horizon Air ground service agent, based in Seattle. Traveling with cousins Avinish Prasad, 19, and Avinesh Amit Deo, 23, also of Seattle.

Paul "Clarke" Pulanco, 40, Seattle

James J. Ryan, 30, of Redmond, Washington, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant, based in Portland, Oregon. Traveling with parents, Bradford and Barbara Ryan, and brother, Terry Ryan, all of Redmond.

Ellen Salyer, 51, of Sebastopol, California, had gone to Mexico for a property owners meeting. "We had a storybook relationship," said her husband, Phil Salyer, who was not on the flight. "We've been together for 13 years, and it's been the best 13 years of my life."

Stacy Schuyler, 20, of Federal Way, Washington. A Horizon Air ground service agent, based in Seattle.

Donald Shaw, 63, of Shelton, Washington, was a father of six and grandfather of 13. In the state capital of Olympia, government workers were mourning the loss of the former Snohomish County school principal and librarian who ran tour programs at the Legislative Building.

"He was just a really warm person, incredibly well-liked," said Sandy DeShaw, manager of visitor services at the Capitol. "He felt like he was contributing in a positive way. It's a huge loss to us. His friends and co-workers are just incredibly saddened."

Secretary of State Ralph Munro set a wreath outside his office with a book in which people could express condolences to Shaw's family, including his wife Earlene, who works in the legislative members' cafeteria.

Joan Smith of Belmont, California

Ryan Sparks of Enumclaw, Washington (traveling with Horizon Air employee Rachel Janosik)

Harry Stasinos and wife Charlene Sipe worked together at a Seattle insurance agency for years. The couple were believed to be starting their own agency.

Thomas Stockley, 63, went to work for The Seattle Times in 1967 and six years later became the newspaper's wine columnist.

His wife, Peggy Stockley, 62, was an animal lover and community activist who had worked for the Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seattle Youth Symphony and other organizations.

Most recently, she edited the Floating Homes Association newsletter. They both graduated from the University of Washington School of Communications.

The Stockleys were well known in their close-knit houseboat community. "They were just the gentlest souls and always willing to help neighbors," said neighbor Jan Knutson.

"It's a very good reminder to us that when we cover tragedies, we're writing about people who are loved," said Times managing editor Alex MacLeod.

In 1998, Stockley was recognized at an international conference in Seattle for expanding public knowledge about wine and wine production.

"His impact was tremendous," said Simon Siegl, president of the American Vintners Association. "He was there at the beginning before anybody was aware of the Washington wine industry and a strong advocate from the start."

Janice Stokes, 48, Ketchikan, Alaska

Morris Thompson, 61, of Fairbanks, Alaska. He was one of the state's most prominent Native and business leaders and had been in Mexico for a vacation with his wife, Thelma Thompson, and daughter Sheryl Thompson.

Thompson retired last month as president and chief executive officer of Doyon Ltd., a Native corporation formed in 1971 as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The corporation has 12.5 million acres of land, making it the largest private landowner in the United States.

When Thompson took over Doyon in 1985, it had an operating loss of $28 million. When he retired, it was generating $70.9 million in annual revenues, had 900 employees and 14,000 stockholders.

Thompson was a special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior during the Nixon years. He was only 34 when he was appointed Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He also was a Cabinet-level officer in Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel's first administration.

Robert Thorgrimson of Poulsbo, Washington, was the grandson of O.B. Thorgrimson, a founding partner of the prominent Seattle-based law firm Preston, Thorgrimson, Shidler, Gates & Lucas, where billionaire Bill Gates' father is a partner.

Lorna Thorgrimson wife of Robert Thorgrimson

Steve Wilkie of San Francisco was the brand manager of Levi Strauss' Silvertab clothing line. "This is a very sad day for Levi Strauss and Co. employees around the world. We have lost a highly respected colleague and a dear friend," the company said in a statement.

Bob Williams, 65, Suquamish, Washington

Patty Williams, 63, Suquamish, Washington





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