Mrs. Beiter, The AP story featuring you and your reaction to the "We Are Marshall" movie was featured in our Clarksburg, W.Va., Sunday paper yesterday.
Since your husband's face is the only one I personally can associate with the Marshall plane crash, I wanted to say hello and found this way to do just that.
My name is Drew Crislip, and the year your husband died I was a sophomore at Bridgeport High School, in the county where I now again live. Early that fall, all students were required to attend a college fair held one day at our school, and to select three colleges to "visit."
As a child of non-college parents who had never thought about going anywhere but WVU, I of course selected WVU and also Fairmont State, because it was close to home, and Marshall, because it was the 2nd largest school in W.Va.
Your husband was the M.U. representative that day. I don't recall much of what he said but I do remember, at least generally, what he looked like and that he was wearing a suit! My next memory is of seeing a small card posted on the bulletin board outside the school's main office in December, in memoriam to Dr. O'Connor.
After I graduated high school in 1973, I did go on to WVU, and earned a B.A. and then a law degree. While in high school, I became a Christian and started involvement that continues today with the W.Va. Baptist Camp at Cowen. Friends I met there, mostly from 5th Ave. Baptist Church, encouraged me to move to Huntington and I did and loved living and working there 1979-1991.
While there, I served for three years as an adjunct instructor at Marshall. Not surprisingly, I also met and became close with many people who were touched by the Marshall crash, although none as directly as you were. Still, the only face I personally could put on the tragedy was that of your husband, since his was the only one I had actually seen and had some memory of.
Since I left Huntington, I have lived in different places all in W.Va. and finally about 12 years ago returned to my home county, where I now serve as Family Court Judge. I keep close ties with my Huntington friends and even though I bleed blue and gold (WVU), was thrilled for them and our State when I heard about the planned "We Are Marshall" movie.
My wife and I had the chance to see it recently and it was as wonderful and moving as I hoped it would be. There is no way, of course, that I can understand what you went through that terrible night, or since. There is no way I can comprehend the range of emotions that the movie must have produced in you and your children.
Please know how terribly sorry I am for your ordeal but also how glad I am for you that you, like me, have come to know and find solace in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I don't claim to have known your husband. Frankly, I probably wouldn't recall him at all, or what he looked like, if it weren't for that memory being reinforced and burned into my brain by the tragedy itself and by that "in memoriam" card on my high school's bulletin board. But, whenever I think of the tragedy, I think of him, and I wanted you to know.
God bless you, ma'am.