Times Union, Albany, USA
Section: LOCAL
Page: B1


SUNDAY, January 1, 1989

CRASH VICTIM EULOGIZED

By Jane Gottlieb Staff writer

 

An international tragedy was described as an immense personal loss Saturday as the body of Melina Hudson was laid to rest.

 "People picked up her rhythm," said the Rev. John Jones in a eulogy he called "Melina's Moment" for the 16-year-old Albany resident who died in the Pan Am jet crash in Scotland 11 days ago.

"Beautiful. Gay. Bright. Eager. Adventuresome. Willing. Giving. She was one who could take direction," said Jones, "who loved music and ballet and track and who has a presence that is very alive and vital."

 At least 700 mourners came in from a cheerless morning to fill the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and help Paul and Eleanor Hudson and their three sons complete a journey that started Dec. 21 when Melina boarded a plane home from a semester's study in England.

 All 259 people aboard Pan Am Flight 103 died when the jet exploded and crashed in the small village of Lockerbie, Scotland. Authorities have determined the explosion was caused by a bomb.

 Melina Hudson's remains arrived home Friday, a day after her father returned from working with the families of other victims in Lockerbie.

 The crash and the seven other local families it affected also were recalled at the funeral mass, where four priests, including Albany Roman Catholic Bishop Howard J. Hubbard and a clergyman from England, assisted.

 "Melina was a kind and courageous young lady who didn't deserve to die so young," said her aunt, Patricia Rossi-Salahshour, who led a prayer she said also was devoted to other surviving families.

 But international headlines, talk of terrorist tactics and airport security boiled down to the jarring death of a teenager who was described as a faithful Roman Catholic, a talented artist and a good babysitter.

 Jones shared a letter from 9- year-old Kate Mooney, who wrote she would always remember Hudson as a babysitter who "barely yelled at me.

 "She was a good artist and actor. She was friendly. She was a good gymnast," the priest read from Mooney's letter. "She had a nice smile. She colored a picture with me. I still have it and I'm going to frame it and give it to you."

 Mourners filled up most of a large church decorated with Christmas wreaths. They wept aloud or remained still. Groups of teenagers held one another.

 A priest who first met Melina Hudson at his church in England recalled her as an outgoing young woman.

 "I had become the priest at Blessed Sacrament Church just a few weeks before Melina came to study in Exeter," recalled the Rev. Patrick Conlon, whose trip from England was paid for with money refunded from a ski trip the Hudsons canceled.

 "One Sunday, a girl introduced herself to me. She said, 'I'm Melina Hudson, an American student from Albany, New York. I believe you are new here. So am I. We can welcome each other.'

 "I realized this was no ordinary girl ... Her presence put me at ease."

 That boldness could also be offputting, according to Hudson's oldest brother, Stephen.

 "She spoke her mind, which would offend some, but was beneficial to many," he wrote in a printed card distributed with the funeral program. "For a 16-year-old girl to be her own individual is something hardly found. I learned from my sister that one's values cannot be compromised."

 Stephen filled the large cathedral with the lyrical sounds of "Jazz on the Rocks," the piano work he co-wrote with his sister.

 Since the plane crash, the family has shared their ordeal with the media, who were welcome at the service but asked to sit in the church balcony.

 Following the mass, Melina Hudson was buried in St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands.

 As he followed the casket the church, Paul Hudson looked drained as he led his two youngest sons. His wife appeared gratified by the the scores of people who had come. As she trailed the casket, Eleanor Hudson recognized a particular face in the crowd and broke into a broad smile.

 "Thank you for coming," she called out, as she followed her daughter's casket out the cathedral.