Barbara Keating

Barbara Keating
American Flight 11

Contented Grandmother

Barbara Keating spent 25 years in public service, 10 as executive director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Middlesex, outside Boston. She was widowed almost 20 years ago and survived two occurrences of breast cancer. At 72, she split her time between Cape Cod, Mass., and Palm Springs, Calif., where she drove a red Sebring convertible and went to church every day.

She was someone you would not talk back to, said Paul Keating, one of her five children; she was smart, tough, professional and funny. "The joke was she could always find a restaurant with a good martini," he said. She took hers dry, with two olives.

She planned her year around visits with her 12 grandchildren, in Texas, Massachusetts and California.

A longtime friend, Eunice Maloney, remembers her quiet kindnesses. "She drove people for cancer treatments," she said. "She was always doing something for somebody, but she never said much about it."

Ms. Maloney remembers talking to her about five days before she was killed on American Airlines Flight 11 as she was returning to California from a visit with her East Coast grandchildren.

"She told me she was very happy with her life," Ms. Maloney said. "Later she left me a note that said she was very glad for my friendship. I thought maybe she wouldn't be coming back to the Cape. Little did I know."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on June 16, 2002.

After her husband's death, Barbara Keating moved from Cape Cod to Palm Springs, Calif.

Every summer she returned to Massachusetts for a few months to visit. This summer, though, would be her last, she said, because her friends in Massachusetts were dwindling.

On her flight back to California, Keating died when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

"She was a wonderful woman, always had a smile on her face," said Rev. Philip Behan, pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Palm Springs.

Keating, 72, worked as a receptionist at the parish office. She could often be seen driving around Palm Springs in a red convertible sports car, always with the top down.

"Usually, she and a few other women would be driving around, even in the winter when it gets sort of cold, she had that top down," Behan said. "She also liked to celebrate. Her drink was always a martini with extra olives."

Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.

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