Jeffrey Coombs

Jeffrey Coombs
American Flight 11

At Home in the Outdoors

It was early on a Sunday morning in late summer New England, a day all pretty with promise. Jeffrey Coombs put on his Grand Canyon river rafting cap and his favorite hiking shorts and boots and declared that the day for the Coombs family to hike Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire had arrived.

Meaghan, 11, sighed, then she struck a deal with her dad. She would hike if he would take her to the mall. "Jeffrey hated the mall as much as Meaghan hated hiking," said Mr. Coombs's wife, Christie. But he agreed.

The only thing Mr. Coombs, 42, liked more than being outdoors was being with his family. One of the reasons he joined Compaq last April was that he could work at home when he was not traveling. The conference in Anaheim, Calif., that had him flying out of Boston on American Airlines Flight 11 on Sept. 11 was supposed to be just a brief stay away from home.

"Jeffrey never had much idle time," his sister Lauren said. "He used every minute." As soon as he got back from the Anaheim trip he was scheduled to go on a 10-day rim-to-rim hike through the Grand Canyon.

Another advantage of working at home was the luxury of having time to build a deck on his house in Abington, a Boston suburb. Except for the railing and stairs, it was done by the time he left for Anaheim. Neighbors completed it just before Christmas.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on February 12, 2002.

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