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Three crash victims remembered
By Tim Pugmire
Minnesota Public Radio
October 29, 2002


Family, friends and admirers gathered Monday night at three Twin Cities locations to remember several of the victims of Friday's plane crash, which took the lives of U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife and daughter.

Service for Marcia Wellstone Markuson
Students of Marcia Wellstone Markuson, a Spanish teacher at White Bear Lake High School, read a poem in her memory at a Monday evening memorial service.
(MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire)

Students, parents, teachers and administrators from the White Bear Lake school district gathered in the large, dimly-lit sanctuary of Eagle Brook Church to remember Marcia Wellstone Markuson. Markuson, 33, was a Spanish teacher who worked in the district for 11 years. She was on a leave of absence this fall, working on her father's re-election campaign.

Superintendent Ted Blaesing said Marcia Wellstone Markuson touched thousands of students, and left her imprint on the entire community.

"Passion for one's work, a person who genuinely liked people and to see them smile, a deep commitment to the cause of human rights and a belief as an individual you can make a difference. These are but a few of the remarkable qualities that Marcia shared with us as a community. We will miss her," Blaesing said.

Colleagues remembered Markuson as an avid runner, entertaining storyteller and enthusiastic teacher. Margaret Lane, a fellow Spanish teacher, said Marcia taught from her heart and gave her students a purpose to learn.


Marcia Wellstone Markuson
Marcia Wellstone took a leave of absence from her teaching job this fall to campaign for her father's re-election.
(Photo courtesy of the Wellstone campaign)

"We ... saw her, time and time again, light the imagination of the youngest child and the most at-risk student. All of us are lucky enough to call her our friend, our colleague or our teacher. All of us have been truly blessed to be in this journey with her," Lane said.

Students and former students used the Spanish name "Profe" to affectionately address Markuson. Senior Connor Luby stood with a group of classmates and paid tribute by reading from another student's poem, "An Angel of a Teacher."

"She taught us the importance of life, and what it has to give. And that our choices plan our future and how we want to live.
We've cherished all the laughs and remembered all the tears, of all the fun times we had together we'll all remember through the years.
She always had good stories, that she was willing to share. In return she'd listen to our own. It was great to have her there.
Ms. Markuson was an angel. She really stood apart. And she will live forever in each and every heart. Adios Profe," Lube read.

Marcia Wellstone Markuson is survived by her husband, a child from a previous marriage, three step-children and two brothers.

Inside the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in St. Paul, hundreds of people attended a vigil for Mary McEvoy. The line of mourners snaked through the ballroom and spilled outside. McEvoy, 49, was a professor in early childhood special education at the University of Minnesota, a DFL party leader and part of the Wellstone campaign staff. Family friend Bill Dudley said she was a special person.

Mary McEvoy
Mary McEvoy was remembered as an advocate for children as well as for her activism in the DFL Party.

"You name any aspect of church and community life -- Mary was not only part of it, but was kind of the spirit of it. As one of the people said, her laughter and persona filled any room," Dudley said.

McEvoy worked alongside many people in politics and education. Margaret Boyer of the Alliance of Early Childhood Professionals said McEvoy had a unique ability to build coalitions to address early childhood issues.

"I'm going to miss her so much. She was really good at bringing different philosophies together, and people who had different agendas, in a way that we could find an agenda that could help everyone. Plus she was a friend, and I'm just so heartbroken," Boyer said.

Mary McEvoy is survived by her husband, two daughters, a son, her mother, three sisters and a brother.

Pax Christi Catholic Church in Eden Prairie was the site of a memorial service for Tom Lapic, who was known to many as Paul Wellstone's right hand man. Lapic, 49, had worked with the senator for nearly 10 years. Two weeks ago, he quit his job as deputy director in the Senate office to join Wellstone for the final hectic weeks of the campaign.

Tom Lapic
Tom Lapic was known to many as Paul Wellstone's right-hand man. Friends said Wellstone wanted Lapic with him every step of the way, because Lapic's tranquil demeanor steadied Wellstone.
(Photo courtesy of the Wellstone campaign)

Those who spoke said Wellstone wanted Lapic with him every step of the way, because Lapic's tranquil demeanor steadied Wellstone.

"He had the ability to be in command and yet be in the background. He was a very calming influence," said Lapic's friend, Chaska police chief Scott Knight. "He was one of the most unflappable individuals, and that was all on top of a very, very sincere foundation. He genuinely cared about people and issues. And when he took interest in someone -- and that was just about everyone he met -- it was from his heart."

Knight was one of more than 20 people who came to the microphone near the altar of the church to talk about Lapic. Coworkers described a man who would tell his office mates that they didn't have to worry -- he'd worry for them.

They also called him a great writer who wrote many of Wellstone's speeches, and they talked about his ethics.

One friend from graduate school told a story about how he and Lapic would hang around shopping centers and watch for healthy drivers who parked in handicapped spots. He'd wait until the person went into the store and leave a note on their windshield, admonishing them for parking in that spot.

What many did not know was that Lapic was a friend to firefighters. St. Paul firefighter Ted Vanderbeek says he helped the department write grants.

Will McLaughlin
Will McLaughlin, 23, was a campaign aide for Wellstone. A memorial service for him is scheduled for Wednesday evening.
(Photo courtesy of the Wellstone campaign)

"We were awarded a grant for $490,000 that will replace much-needed breathing equipment for firefighters in St. Paul, that we wouldn't have been able to purchase. When things weren't going right, you called Tom, because once you called Tom, you knew things were going to be OK," said Vanderbeek.

The fire department presented Lapic's wife Trudy with a helmet, as a symbol that Lapic had been chosen to be an honorary firefighter. In addition to his wife, Tom Lapic is survived by his mother and a sister.

A memorial service for Will McLaughlin, 23, another Wellstone campaign aide, is planned Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the O'Halloran and Murphy Funeral Home in St. Paul.

(MPR reporters Elizabeth Stawicki and Mary Losure contributed to this report)

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