News & ToursJune 16, 2009

An unhappy anniversary

Anniversary stories are a staple of the news business, and 2009 marks the anniversary of Payne Stewart's memorable victory in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Sadly, it also marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of Stewart and five others in a plane accident.

New York Daily News writer Christian Red has a poignant story on the families of Stewart and the others who died that day -- Robert Fraley, Van Ardan, Bruce Borland, Michael King and Stephanie Bellegarrigue.

"Two of the five widows have remarried," Red writes. "The children of the victims have grown, some have started families, others have finished high school and college, started careers. There have been milestones reached, other losses endured. The majority of the families and friends affected by the Oct. 25, 1999 crash, however, have found it difficult to feel a sense of closure in the years since the doomed flight came to its final resting place in Mina (S.D.)."

Stewart's son, Aaron, 20 and a golfer at SMU, says: "If it's something that big, that had that much of an impact on your life, that's going to be a defining moment in all of our lives, everyone in my family. That's never going to change. Time is never going to take that away."

His daughter, Chelsea, 23 and the charity coordinator for the Tour Championship, says: "I think about him every day. I loved when we used to dance in the kitchen to Frank Sinatra. I would stand on his toes and he would twirl me around the room. It's silly memories like that that stick in your mind forever."

-- John Strege

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