John J. "Jay" Corcoran

John J. Jay Corcoran
United Flight 175

Frequent Traveler

In the 20 years that John and Diann Corcoran were married, goodbyes rolled around every 84 days.

Mr. Corcoran, known to everyone as Jay, was in the merchant marine, a first engineer on huge cargo ships. His schedule had him sailing all over the Far East for tours of 84 days. When he finished he went home to Norwell, Mass. — for 84 days.

"Jay often said to me, `If you add it all up, people who travel for business could be gone as long as I am,"' said Mr. Corcoran's sister Donna Corcoran Schwartz. When he returned from the sea, the first thing Mr. Corcoran, 43, did was catch up on his sleep. Then, his wife said, he was in perpetual motion, golfing, doing yardwork, going on field trips with his children, Meghan and Jake, and working on his cabin in Augusta, Me.

Inevitably, it would be time for another goodbye. On Sept. 11 Mrs. Corcoran drove him to the airport to catch a plane for Los Angeles. It was United flight 175, which would strike the World Trade Center.

They got out of the car and embraced. As Mr. Corcoran went through the doors, Mrs. Corcoran wanted to call him back. "I'd get that panic every time he traveled," she said. As always, she let him go. Then she got back into her car, already anticipating — as she did at every goodbye — "the next hello."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on May 19, 2002.

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