N. Janis Lasden

N. Janis Lasden
American Flight 11

The Strong One

Her passion was her dogs. She had three of them. Two German shepherds and a Rottweiler. She spoke of Shilo, Jessie and Sasha as if they were her children.

She loved country-western line dancing and was a crackerjack quilter. She had worked for 27 years at General Electric and was a whiz on the computer. But to her one and only younger sister, N. Janis Lasden was always the strong one "who told me what to do."

"I'm lost without her," said the sister, Linda LeBlanc, who lived not far from Ms. Lasden in Peabody, Mass.

Ms. Lasden, 46, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11. She and her boyfriend, Donald A. DiTullio, were traveling to Los Angeles on vacation. Mrs. LeBlanc, who spoke to her sister daily, had known of Ms. Lasden's plans, and upon hearing the news on Sept. 11, rushed to her sister's home to see if she could find an itinerary.

What Mrs. LeBlanc found instead was a typed letter. It was addressed to her. In it, Ms. Lasden said that if she were to die, she wanted the house maintained for the benefit of her dogs. The discovery stunned Mrs. LeBlanc and was made all the more haunting by what was in the mail that day: a will that Ms. Lasden had executed the day before. It repeated her wishes. "I guess even now she is guiding me with what I'm supposed to do," Mrs. LeBlanc said.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 7, 2001.

At the memorial service for N. Janis Lasden--the fourth one of the day at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Lynnfield, Mass.--the 46-year-old General Electric employee was remembered as "an absolute pro," said Stephen O'Malley, a family friend and attorney. It was amazing to see the outpouring of respect and admiration from colleagues at the company where she had logged 27 years, most recently as a leader of e-materials at the nearby Lynn product test center. "Each one had a story about how they could go to her with any problem and her response would always be the same: 'Let's get this taken care of."'

Even on Friday--just days before boarding American Airlines Flight 11 to Los Angeles--a co-worker came to Lasden with an issue and she winked, telling him, "Hey, I'm in vacation mode" before addressing it, he recalled.

She was also a pillar of support for the family. Her mother, Lucille, had died many years ago and her father is ailing, so her sister, Linda LeBlanc, has taken the loss "very hard," O'Malley said. "Janis was Linda's safety net," as well a doting aunt to two teenage nieces. In addition to her work, she loved line dancing and her two dogs. She was also in love, and her fiance, Don DiTullio, accompanied her on the flight that crashed into the World Trade Center.

In a eulogy, one of her nieces said, "At least he got to say goodbye."

Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.

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