LUBEC – The tragedy of Tuesday’s terrorist attack turned personal here Wednesday when American Airlines confirmed that Robert and Jacqueline Norton were passengers on Flight 11.
The Lubec couple flew out of Boston on Tuesday morning en route to Los Angeles to attend the wedding of Jackie Norton’s son, Jason Seymour.
Flight 11 was the first of the two hijacked planes that slammed into the towers at New York’s World Trade Center.
“I knew they were leaving Boston on Tuesday, but I kept telling myself there were lots of flights from Boston to Los Angeles,” said the Rev. Edward Randall. “This was to be such a joyous occasion for them.”
Randall is the pastor of Lubec Congregational Christian Church, where 85-year-old Robert Norton was a deacon and Jackie, who was 61, was the church clerk.
The couple left Lubec on Monday to spend the night in Bangor. They had an early morning flight from Bangor to connect with their Boston flight.
In California, Jason Seymour, 38, stressed that the tragedy affects everyone, not just his family. “This is not about me and my mom. This is about a terrorist attack that affected all of us.”
At least one other Mainer was known to have been aboard the aircraft used in Tuesday’s terror attacks.
James Roux, 43, was aboard United Airlines Flight 175 and was planning to go to Thailand, said Liana Brewer, executive assistant to Roux’s brother, David Roux, at Silver Lake Partners in Menlo Park, Calif.
Russ Riseman, owner of The Alehouse in Portland, said James Roux was a friend and client who had recently had a change in outlook on life. Roux was planning to leave his job and work for his brother, Riseman said.
In Lubec on Sunday, Jackie Norton had given three or four bouquets from her garden to the church and told people to pick whatever flowers they wanted while the couple were gone, Randall said.
“She was just a precious lady,” he said. “It’s so hard to believe the innocence that’s involved with this ruthless act.”
Lucy Burgess, who lived next door to the couple, also is struggling to comprehend the loss.
“They were the best neighbors you could hope to have and they showed it in so many ways,” she said, pausing to regain her composure. “There are probably hundreds of people who could tell you nice things about them.”
Burgess said the couple were a great comfort to her when she was caring for her father, who had Alzheimer’s disease.
“Robert had experience with the disease in his family, and he and Jackie always made certain to stop to see how things were going,” she said. “They were always available if you needed anything.”
Jackie Carter said her husband, Lawton, is Robert Norton’s cousin. The two men were raised together on Lubec’s Herring Cove.
“They called each other brothers and they’d talk every night – just a lot about how their day had gone and what they’d done,” she said. “Robert was a very kind-hearted man.”
Norton’s first wife was a Lubec schoolteacher, and he spent his engineering career in Massachusetts. He moved back to Lubec to the home where he grew up when he retired, Carter said.
Jackie was from Santa Barbara, Calif., and had bought a home in Lubec after seeing the town on a trip years ago, she said.
The couple, who lived two doors apart, became acquainted through the church and had been married for nine years, Carter said.
“They were a happy couple,” she said. “I don’t know when this is going to hit me.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Linda Moores and Sharon McGonigle were part of a crew mounting hundreds of yellow bows and American flags on telephone poles and trees throughout town.
The signs of remembrance were the idea of former Selectman Joanne Case, they said. The American Legion donated the flags, and the schools and Farrell’s Craft Store donated the ribbons.
“Robert was a gentleman,” Moores said. “He and I shared a love of raspberries and I used to meet him and his dog, Sam, at the raspberry patch down below his place. I loved to talk to him.”
On Wednesday, a couple driving by stopped to ask the women the significance of the bows.
“We lost a couple from Lubec yesterday,” explained Moores. “They were on one of those planes.”
As the woman began to cry, Moores reached through the window and gave her a hug.
“Everyone’s been like that,” Moores said as the couple drove away. “We’re a real close community. We can fight among each other – like brothers and sisters – but when something happens, we all pull together.”
The Associated Press contributed this report.