LUBEC – Sweet peas adorned the worship table Sunday at the Congregational Christian Church, where members quietly recalled the sudden deaths of two of their own on Sept. 11, 2001.
Jacqueline and Robert Norton died four years ago after the plane they were on, American Airlines Flight 11, slammed into one of the World Trade Center towers in New York.
The day before, the couple had driven to Bangor, where they spent the night because their flight from Bangor International Airport departed so early. They left their green Dodge Caravan in the parking lot at BIA.
The Nortons were headed to California for the wedding of one of Jackie Norton’s three sons.
Flying into Boston, they boarded Flight 11, a nonstop to the West Coast. About 8:48 a.m., their jet hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. All 76 passengers, 11 crew members and five terrorists who commandeered the plane died.
Months later, amid mountains of rubble remaining from the cataclysmic destruction that day, somebody found a pocketbook with a broken strap belonging to Jackie Norton.
It contained her wallet, airline boarding passes, a checkbook, keys to the Dodge Caravan and a worn newspaper clipping containing a poem titled “Go Travel.”
On Sunday members of the congregation paused to remember their fellow parishioners. Robert Norton, who was 85 at the time, was a deacon in the church for 44 years; Jacqueline Norton, his 61-year-old wife, had been the church clerk. The couple had become acquainted through the church and had been married for nine years.
The Sunday before they left, Jackie Norton had given three or four bouquets from her garden to the church. She gave a bouquet to longtime friends Sid and Alice Maker. She also told people to pick whatever flowers they wanted while they were away.
“Jackie and Bob had a lot of sweet peas growing in their yard, and before they left they made sure there were sweet peas on the worship table,” Margaret Brown, president of the church, said Sunday.
Over the weekend, a Lubec neighbor picked some sweet peas. They were given to Sid and Alice Maker to bring to church and put on the worship table.
“Sid stood up and told the congregation about Bob and Jackie’s visit to [him] and his wife, Alice, the night before they left and how excited and anxious they were to go and how tragic events were after they left,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, Lawton Carter wore a baseball cap during the weekend that was given to him by Robert Norton, his cousin. He stopped to think about the man who was as close to him as a brother.
“I think that hit me the hardest of anything that I ever had with in my life. All the rest of the family that went out, they were sick or old. But to have him go out, we were very close,” Carter said. “I’ll tell you, I think of him every day.”
Robert Norton “was a very, very nice guy. He used everybody alike. He never had a bad word for anybody,” he said.