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For Family of 9/11 Victim, Wars Add to Feeling of Loss
Published on Sunday, September 7, 2003 by The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA)
Walt and Sandra Bodley: Wars Add to Feeling of Loss
by Guy Kovner

The hole that Sept. 11 terrorism tore in the lives of Walt and Sandra Bodley has grown no smaller in two years.

At family parties, holidays and other times the Sebastopol couple would have seen their vivacious 20-year-old niece, Deora, her absence looms large.

"It just isn't fair," said Walt Bodley, a retired airline pilot.

Deora Bodley, 1981-2001
Santa Clara University Junior
Deora Bodley, a junior at Santa Clara University, was the youngest of the 44 passengers killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a western Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001.

Two years have done nothing to ease the family's pain, and two wars -- waged by the United States in the name of combatting terrorism -- have, in their view, added to the human misery, with civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Neither invasion was justified, the Bodleys say, because neither country was responsible for the attacks. Of the 19 hijackers, 15 of them were Saudis, Sandra Bodley said.

"There isn't a connection (between Sept. 11 and Iraq)," she said. "There never was."

As the nation moved toward war this spring, Sandra Bodley sought emotional support at Quaker meetings in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, surrounded by pacifists. "They are so grounded in their belief," she said. "I was a basket case."

The Bodleys attended a retreat in August 2002 put on by September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a group founded by Deora's father, Derrill Bodley, and other victims' relatives advocating non-violent responses to terrorism.

"I got all fired up," Sandra Bodley said. But her plans to turn peace activist in retirement got sidelined. She did retire after 28 years as a nursing instructor at Sonoma State University, switching to part-time work there, but adding another part-time job as director of Santa Rosa Junior College's nursing program.

She's had time for only a few local programs, talking about Deora and her sense of loss. On Sept. 11, Derrill Bodley, a Stockton resident and music professor at Sacramento City College, will be in New York, performing at a memorial concert a piece he composed right after the attacks, called "Steps to Peace."

Walt and Sandra declined to go, preferring to spend the day in the tranquility of their home in the hills west of Sebastopol.

Sandra is pained that the death of her beautiful niece -- one of 3,016 killed in the attacks -- has been the fulcrum for so much more suffering. "I guess that's the hardest thing to stomach," she said.

Copyright 2003 The Press Democrat


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