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In memoriam / Beyond the names of a Western New York catastrophe

Editor's Note: These profiles represent the information The News was able to obtain by press time. Profiles of other victims of the crash will be published in future editions.


DONNA PRISCO, a married mother of four from Randolph, N.J., had been a flight attendant for less than a year. She had attended training with Matilda Quintero, a good friend who was also working the flight.

Prisco, 52, had been a stay-at-home mother for 27 years before she fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a flight attendant, her sister Karen Prisco, of Sparta, told the Star- Ledger. On her first day of work in June, she proudly posed for a photo in her uniform in her living room.

"She wanted to go back to work and do something for herself," Karen Prisco told the newspaper. "She said, 'I'd do this job for free.' She just loved it. She was a people person."

Prisco's 24-year-old daughter, Ashley, also works for Colgan Air, the company that operated Flight 3407. Prisco also had three sons, Neil Prisco III, 27; Brett Prisco, 22; and Corey Prisco, 15, and was married to Neil Prisco Jr.

- Associated Press


Retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. JOHN J. FIORE saw three wars before retiring to civilian life.

Fiore, 60, a Niagara Falls native, was on Flight 3407 on his way back from a vacation, said a friend, Duane Frost.

"All the sacrifices that he's done for the country and for this to happen to him and have his life cut short is just mind-boggling," said Frost, a fellow veteran. "He got cheated." Fiore started his military career in Vietnam with the Marines.

He later joined the Air Force Reserves and served as an air transportation manager with the 30th Aerial Port Squadron of the 914th Mission Support Group.

In an August 2006 article in the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station publication "Niagara Frontiersman," Fiore described the squadron's work in the war on terror as "making history."

"The airlift missions we scheduled moved more than 700 officials in support of the first free Iraqi elections since 1953," Fiore told the 914th Airlift Wing public affairs office in 2006.

Fiore served as an airlift scheduler at the Air Mobility Division, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, during the tour, which began in 2004, according to the "Niagara Frontiersman."

Fiore lived on Grand Island, Frost said. He was also an active volunteer at John J. Welch Post 381, American Legion, in Niagara Falls and several other veterans organizations.

- Denise Jewell Gee


BRAD S. GREEN, 53, of East Amherst was a salesman for Kraft Foods, according to former neighbors.

Green and his family were described as kind and helpful, the type of people everyone would want living next door, said Dave Braunscheidel, a former neighbor.

Braunscheidel and Green used to help each other with projects around their houses, like working on Green's hot tub and an engine on his son's three-wheeler.

Green, a member of Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church in Clarence, is survived by his wife, Sharon, and two children, Jennifer and Brad Jr.

"Our heart goes out to them," said Braunscheidel, who said he was neighbor to the Greens for about 10 years.

George Regan, another former neighbor, described Green as "very, very well-liked."

Regan, 88, said the family used to help him use the Internet to keep in touch with his own son, who traveled around the world.

"Anybody that knewthem, they're going to be astounded," Regan said.

Green was one of two Kraft employees on the plane, along with David M. Borner of Pendleton.

"We are devastated by the news, and our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with our employees' families during this difficult time," the company said in a statement issued to the Tonawanda News. "Kraft Foods also extends its deepest condolences to all families affected by this tragic event."

- Aaron Besecker


KEVIN W. JOHNSTON, 52, of East Amherst, was director of safety, health and environment at Henkel Technologies-Americas in Buffalo.

In an in-house message sent Friday, company executives alerted employees about the loss of Johnston, as well as Douglas Wielinski, a former employee who was in the Clarence Center home where Continental Flight 3407 crashed.

"Our sympathies go out to both families and the many friends Kevin and Doug had at Henkel," they wrote. "This tragedy has affected us all."

Johnston leaves his wife, Kathleen, and daughters,Melissa, Amanda and Kelsey.

Johnston, a certified safety professional and certified industrial hygienist, was past president of the Western NewYork Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Henkel closed its operations in Buffalo on Friday in remembrance.

Johnston was formerly the corporate manager of industrial hygiene at Pratt& Lambert.

- Aaron Besecker


RONALD and LINDA DAVIDSON of Westfield were on their way home from visiting a relative.

Mrs. Davidson, 61, was a longtime nurse at Westfield Memorial Hospital in northern Chautauqua County. Mr. Davidson, 66, was a volunteer at the community kitchen at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Westfield.

The couple has three children: two sons, Andrewand Aaron, and a daughter, Carrie, according to Westfield residents who knew them said.


JENNIFER NEILL,34, was pregnant with her first child.

"She was due at the end of May," said her mother, Mary Neill.

Her fiance, Todd Eacker, a physician's assistant, was in Florida visiting his sister when the plane went down.

The last time he spoke with Neill was while she was at the Newark airport waiting for the plane to depart, her father, James, said.

A pharmaceutical sales representative for Shearing-Plough for the past several years, Jennifer left Wednesday morning for New York City for a business trip and was on her way back home on Flight 3407.

Considering she was expecting, her mother wondered about her making the trip.

"I was kind of surprised [her boss] selected her because she was pregnant," said Mary Neill, a teacher in Buffalo Public Schools, who found out about the plane crash while on her way to work Friday morning.

Jennifer lived with her parents in Clarence.

She and her husband did not see the news the night before, and when Jennifer didn't come home Thursday night, they just assumed she was at her fiance's place.

And because Jennifer always drove herself to the airport, no one was there to meet her.

"The happy part is that she was a very happy and upbeat person," Mary Neill said.

"She is just a wonderful daughter...She is a very ambitious and a very bright girl," James said, still speaking of his daughter in the present tense two days after the plane crash.

In addition to her parents and fiance, Jennifer is survived by two brothers, Brendan and Patrick, a major in the Air Force, who was a safety officer and flew commercially at one time, James Neill said.

-Deidre Williams


DARREN TOLSMA wasn't supposed to be on Flight 3407. He was booked to fly out of Newark Liberty Airport on a later plane.

"He took an earlier flight because he wanted to be home so he could say good night to his kids," said Tolsma's wife, Robin. "That tells you how much he was devoted to them."

Nikki, 16, and Darren, 19, were the apples of their father's eye.

"The best way I could say it is he lived his life for his kids. He was so proud of them," said Robin Tolsma, an English teacher at Lancaster Middle School. "His favorite place to be was at Lancaster High School, watching his kids do anything in track or field hockey."

Runners wore black armbands in his memory Saturday at a track meet.

One of Darren Tolsma's favorite things to do was to take late-night walks with his son, which could go on for an hour or more.

"They would talk about college, and all the things they could talk about without mom. My son was so sad thinking he would never have those walks again," Robin Tolsma said.

Darren Tolsma worked for 25 years as a defense engineer at Northrop Grumman Amherst Systems. His co-workers were his "second family," his wife said.

He was also proud of their two-story home in Lancaster-especially his manicured lawn.

"He used to Google his own house so he could see how nice it looked from space. He was proud of that lawn," Robin Tolsma said.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday in Lancaster High School, 1 Forton Drive.

- Mark Sommer


MARY JULIA ABRAHAM, 44, was an employee of Invacare Corp. and a retired member of the Army Reserve. She rose to the rank of first sergeant. She also was a greyhound rescuer.

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