Beamer, Lisa 1969-
BEAMER, Lisa 1969-
PERSONAL: Born 1969, in Albany, NY; daughter of Paul (a research physicist) and Lorraine (a Christian counselor) Brosious; married Todd Morgan Beamer (a software accounts manager), 1994 (died September 11, 2001); children: David, Drew, Morgan Kay. Education: Wheaton College, B.A. (business), 1981.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—c/o Todd M. Beamer Foundation, P.O. Box 32, Cranbury, NJ 08512. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 351 Executive Dr., Carol Stream, IL 60188.
CAREER: Founder of Todd M. Beamer Foundation.
AWARDS, HONORS: Named one of the Twenty-five Most Intriguing People of 2001, People magazine.
(With Ken Abraham) Let's Roll!: Ordinary People,Extraordinary Courage (memoir), Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Lisa Beamer was the wife of Todd Beamer, one of a group of passengers who died on September 11, 2001, while attempting to take control of a hijacked commercial airplane that ultimately crashed in a Pennsylvania field, killing all aboard. The twin towers of New York's World Trade Center had been struck by two aircraft and collapsed in flames, and a third aircraft had struck the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. by the time the tragedy that would take the life of Todd Beamer began to unfold. United Airlines Flight 93 was on its way from Newark to San Francisco that morning, when hijackers took control of the plane and rerouted it, perhaps planning to hit a second target in Washington, D.C. Their plans never came to fruition because the plane's passengers, including Oracle software salesman Todd Beamer, banded together to resist.
During the hijacking attempt, many passengers were able to use aircraft phones to contact loved ones. Beamer managed to speak by telephone with Verizon Airfone operator Lisa Jefferson for thirteen minutes. He told her that three people had taken over the plane. Two of the hijackers were armed with knives, and one had a bomb strapped to his waist. The two with knives had locked themselves in the cockpit. As the world reeled in the wake of the collapse of the World Trade towers, it now learned of the new danger posed by Flight 93. While the passengers of the hijacked aircraft headed toward the East Coast, Jefferson told Beamer, "I'll be here as long as you are."
According to Guardian Unlimited online contributor Ed Vulliamy, after the conversation between Beamer and Jefferson ended, Jefferson recalled Beamer saying that "he was going to have to go out on faith because they were talking about jumping the guy with the bomb. He was still holding the phone, but he was not talking to me, he was talking to someone else, and I could tell he had turned away. And he said, 'You ready. Okay, let's roll.'" As Beamer and the other passengers of Flight 93 rushed their hijackers the cockpit recorder picked up the sound of fighting and the crash of service trolleys. The pilot lost control of the aircraft at 30,000 feet.
"Lisa Beamer was a national icon within ten days of her husband's death," wrote Newsweek contributor Evan Thomas. "She was wearing a borrowed maternity dress and she had not slept in a week when President Bush saluted her before Congress and the nation, and yet she looked calm and radiant. She was whisked from Good Morning America to the Today show to Dateline, 20/20, and 60 Minutes." Talk show host Oprah Winfrey even sent her private plane to pick up Beamer for an appearance on her daytime show after the widow expressed her nervousness about flying in the wake of her husband's death in a plane crash. When Beamer appeared on Oprah she met Jefferson and heard the telephone operator repeat the final two words she heard Beamer utter. Those words became the title of Lisa Beamer's memoir of her life with the man who had become America's hero: "Let's Roll."
Lisa Beamer was born in Albany, New York and grew up in Shrub Oak, north of New York City, one of three children of Paul and Lorraine Brosious. When she was fifteen, her father, an IBM research physicist, suffered an aneurysm and died. Beamer was raised a Baptist, but her faith was shaken after the loss of her father. She met Todd at Wheaton College, a Christian school near Chicago, and they settled in New Jersey after their marriage. Todd's job required him to do a great deal of traveling, and on the day of the tragedy Lisa wasn't even sure which flight he had taken.
Thomas noted of Beamer's sudden celebrity that at first it was "resented by some of the families of less celebrated victims, particularly those of the flight crew, whose loved ones were too busy trying to do their jobs to call home. But Beamer has soothed ruffled feelings with unfailing graciousness. . . . Still, she does not altogether object to the attention lavished upon her. Deeply religious, she wanted to bear witness she says. Her disarming—and occasionally irreverent—sense of humor gave her crossover appeal to both the religious and the mainstream media."
Beamer delivered her third child, a girl, in January, 2002, and named her daughter Morgan, Todd's middle name. Following Morgan's birth she turned her attention to raising funds for children who had lost their parents, the first being the children whose parents had died in the crash, through a foundation named for her husband. With Ken Abraham, she devoted three months to writing Let's Roll!: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage. Much of the book is based on interviews Abraham conducted with the couple's family and friends, and some was written by Beamer. With the publication of her book, the widow was again asked to appear on network shows and talk about her book, her life with Todd, and her faith.
Los Angeles Times reviewer Gina Piccalo commented that Let's Roll "offers a painfully intimate look at the tragedy from Beamer's perspective." According to her book, while Beamer learned about the details of the crash from a television report that morning, she immediately instinctively knew Todd was on the doomed flight. Completing her book allowed Beamer to work through part of her grief; following its publication she planned to return to the task of raising her three children.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Beamer, Lisa, and Ken Abraham, Let's Roll!: OrdinaryPeople, Extraordinary Courage, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 2002.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, September 6, 2002, Carolyn Chick, "Lisa Beamer Says She Lives in the Moment, Bolstered by Her Faith," p. K5108.
Los Angeles Times, August 26, 2002, Gina Piccalo, "A Widow's Story," p. E2.
Newsweek, September 9, 2002, Evan Thomas, "Their Faith and Fears," p. 36.
People, January 28, 2002, Patrick Rogers, "Living Legacy," p. 56.
Dateline,http://www.msnbc.com/ (August 20, 2002), Stone Phillips, transcript of interview with Beamer.
Guardian Unlimited,http://www.observer.co.uk/ (December 2, 2001), Ed Vulliamy, "Let's Roll."
Modern Reformation, http://www.modernreformation.org/ (September 12, 2002), Ann Henderson Hart, interview with Beamer.*