Mother killed on Southwest flight was firm believer in Catholic schools

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WASHINGTON — Tributes from business leaders and politicians alike described Jennifer Riordan — the 43-year-old passenger who died April 17 from injuries suffered on Southwest Flight 1380 when its engine exploded — as a devoted mother, community leader, mentor and volunteer.

Riordan, a Wells Fargo executive from New Mexico, was a "thoughtful leader who has long been a part of the fabric of our community," said Tim Keller, the mayor of Albuquerque. Susana Martinez, governor of New Mexico, described her as "an incredible woman who put her family and community first."

But statements about Riordan that were closer to home for the parishioner of Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Albuquerque and mother of two children at Annunciation School were issued by her family, who called her their "bedrock," and her children's school, which described Riordan as an "integral member of our school community."

Riordan, who grew up in Vermont, attended Christ the King Elementary School in Burlington and graduated from Vermont's Colchester High School in 1992. She married her high school sweetheart, Michael Riordan, in 1996 at Christ the King Church, according to the Burlington Free Press daily newspaper. She was returning from a business trip in New York when the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after its engine exploded in midair and shrapnel hit the plane breaking the window beside her. Riordan was pronounced dead at a hospital from blunt trauma to her head, neck and torso, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Health announced April 19. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018