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January 28, 2013

9/11 flight attendant's legacy continues at her alma mater

DANVERS, Mass. — Several months before she was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, flight attendant Karen Martin visited Ellis Island and snapped a photo of the World Trade Center bathed in light through the clouds, a faint image of a cross visible above the buildings.

The image proved to be prophetic, and its sale raised money for a fund in Martin's name for children’s charities. Now her aunt, Joan Greener, is using the fund to create a scholarship at the community college where Martin graduated with an associate's degree in 1984.

The fund has enough money to award a $750 scholarship each year for the next 30 years, said Tatiana Burgos-Espinal, director of development for the North Shore Community College Foundation. “It’s just very, very generous,” she said.

Martin grew up in Danvers and was a 1978 graduate of Danvers High. Her aunt described her as a "high-energy, highly motivated" person.

“When we think of Karen, we grieve for our loss and the way she died," said Greener, "but when we think of Karen, she puts a smile on our face.”

Martin was the 40-year-old head flight attendant aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which terrorists hijacked and flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. She was one of the first victims of the attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives. She was reportedly stabbed while struggling with hijackers.

After her death, family members found her photograph, copyrighted the image and sold it to support the Karen A. Martin Memorial Fund, which has donated more than $40,000 to children’s causes over the years.

These days, Greener said she's finding it hard to organize large fundraisers as she gets older and felt it best to convert the fund to a scholarship. Greener said people are still contributing - and still may contribute - to Martin’s fund. Donations may be made online at www.northshore.edu/giving/donate.

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Ethan Forman writes for The Salem, Mass., News.

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