I would like to take a minute to make a personal tibute to a fallen hero. Paul J. McManus was the best person anyone could ever want to meet. Although i am not a firefighter i am a police officer and i can really appreciate what firefighters do day in a day out. Forced into retirement after an illness he never wanted to give up the job. Rest easy Paul..... http://www.telegram.com/article/20070726/NEWS/707260773/1116/NEWSREWIND Alaska tragedy 2 vacationing couples killed in plane crash By Betty Lilyestrom CORRESPONDENT [email protected] LEICESTER Two couples who dont ordinarily include cruises and sightseeing flights in their summer vacation plans decided to do so this year, and lost their lives on Tuesday as a result. Paul J. McManus, 60, and his wife, Marianne, 56, of 319 Auburn St. in the Cherry Valley section of Leicester, and William F. Eddy, 59, and his wife Jeanne H., 58, of Jacksonville, Fla., were killed when their sightseeing plane crashed in the mountains of Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan, Alaska. Mrs. McManus and Mrs. Eddy were sisters who grew up in Worcester. Mr. Eddy was from Vermont. Mr. McManus was a former Worcester firefighter, serving most of his 25 years at the citys Webster Square station. He retired five years ago. He also was a retired ensign from the U.S. Navy Reserve. The single-engine floatplane, a de Havilland Beaver, left Ketchikan shortly before 1:30 p.m. for a tour over the fjords. Alaska State Police said early yesterday that Joseph H. Campbell, 56, of Ketchikan, was flying the plane. A dispatcher for Taquan Air, the Ketchikan-based flight operator, reported the plane missing after trying to contact the pilot for 20 minutes without success, said Len Laurance, a Taquan spokesman. Searchers found the wreckage in the area where an aircraft distress signal had been picked up, near the south arm of Rudyerd Bay, about 35 miles northeast of Ketchikan. Early reports put the wreckage at an elevation of 2,400 feet, but the wing portion was located higher than the fuselage, indicating that the aircraft slid down after impact. My father and stepmother usually went to New Hampshire on their vacations, or to Florida or Maryland, where Jeanne and Bill also had a home, Mr. McManus daughter, Jody OBrien, said yesterday. They decided to take the cruise and vacation together this year. My dad and stepmother first met when they were students at St. Peter-Marian High School in Worcester, she said. But they both married other people and only got together later. They were married 13 years ago. He was a great person, a great personality, and got along with everybody, said Worcester Firefighter Robert Price. Its like a big family here. An expert carpenter, Mr. McManus took on the job of building his own home on Auburn Street in Leicester in 1989. In the process, he found a compatriot in Richard Antanavica, who had just finished his own house two doors down the street. He got very involved in Leicester as soon as he came to town, said Mr. Antanavica, who is a Leicester selectman. He belonged to St. Joseph Church and became very active in the Leicester Food Pantry, which is located in St. Josephs parish center. Mr. Antanavica said Mr. McManus was also very involved with his family, particularly his grandchildren. I felt really bad when I heard about the crash, he said. He had just bought a pickup truck and a camper and was looking forward to taking his grandchildren camping, and now he wont be able to do it. Firefighters will also remember Mr. McManus when they see the large dining table he crafted for the fire station. The table has the Worcester Fire Department logo. Mr. McManus six grandchildren range in age from 6 months to 7 years, with a seventh on the way. His children are Paul J. McManus Jr. of Charlton, Kate Mercier of Spencer and Mrs. OBrien. Marianne McManus, who had no children, was semi-retired, working from home for Monson Chemicals Inc. of Leominster. She also joined her husband in his hobbies of golfing and gardening and enjoyed the grandchildren as her own, Mrs. OBrien said. Mrs. Eddy, a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Worcester, was well-known in the insurance industry, particularly with The Main Street America Group, where she worked from 1999 until her retirement in 2005. All of us are saddened by this shocking news, said Mark R. Friedlander, spokesman for The Main Street America Group in Jacksonville, where Mrs. Eddy was executive vice president of corporate strategic support services at the time of her retirement. He said many worked closely with Mrs. Eddy, both in Jacksonville and in Keene, N.H., where the companys New England region is based. Mrs. Eddy joined the group in 1999 as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Promoted to executive vice president in 2000, she managed several divisions, including administrative services, the bonds department, corporate actuarial functions and information systems. She was very dynamic and led some very significant initiatives in our company, Mr. Friedlander said. She was responsible for helping convert our company to a mutual insurance holding company. She was also instrumental in ensuring that we had a strong relationship with A.M. Best (a rating service) to ensure that we remained A-rated. He also credited her with being a driving force behind the move of Main Street Americas executive offices from Keene to Jacksonville. The company still maintains an office in Keene with about 500 employees and a claims office in Auburn. Mrs. Eddys more than 25 years in the insurance industry included executive posts with Zurich Insurance Group, The Hartford and USF&G. Mrs. OBrien said her familys most difficult hours included those from 10 p.m. Tuesday when Kate Mercier, listed as the emergency contact, was notified by the cruise line that the plane carrying her father and stepmother was missing to 2 a.m. yesterday, when they were notified that the crashed plane had been located and all aboard were dead. The fifth victim was the pilot. It has also been difficult trying to decide what to tell the grandchildren, Mrs. OBrien said. The oldest, my son Seamus, has been told and my 5-year-old daughter Cailidgh, has heard some of whats been said, but my son Colin, 2, has no idea, she said. The other grandchildren are Taylor Mercier, 2, and Madigan and Paul McManus, 3 and 2 respectively. Andi Esposito and Mike Elfland of the Telegram & Gazette staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.