TWA 20 Years Later: Lawrence man remembers sister

The tragedy seems like just yesterday for Richard Penzer, of Lawrence, who lost his sister Judy that day. The tragedy seems like just yesterday for Richard Penzer, of Lawrence, who lost his sister Judy that day.

Twenty years ago, TWA Flight 800 exploded off Long Island's South Shore just minutes after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Two-hundred-thirty lives were lost in that instant, and the lives of their family and friends were forever changed.

The tragedy seems like just yesterday for Richard Penzer, of Lawrence, who lost his sister Judy that day.

"I remember hearing that a plane exploded," Richard says. "All I can remember is my mother saying, 'could she be on that plane?'"

Judy was on that plane, taking a spur-of-the-moment trip to Paris. Richard remembers seeing the pictures of debris floating in the water and the long wait for answers from his home in Lawrence.

"It was all summer long - it was an all-summer-long event," Richard says. "I couldn't go and identify my sister, my wife did. It was a long time - it wasn't short."

Richard remembers Judy, who was an artist, like her paintings: dynamic and vibrant. His home is like an art gallery, and one piece of his parents in a happier time immediately grabs the eye. He says his mother was never the same after the tragedy.

Richard deals with his sister's death privately. He does not attend the annual service and has never been to the TWA Memorial at Smith Point Park.

Some of Judy's murals covered the sides of buildings in Pittsburgh, where she was living at the time, and another was in the Bronx.

A life cut short at age 49, Judy is forever young in Richard's heart and home and is forever smiling with a paintbrush in hand.

Richard says he usually does not think about the anniversary date, although this year was different.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 5 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login, create an account or subscribe to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."