Young and old, victims had plans By ALLEN G. BREED Associated Press Writer LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Gordon McLerran's family had traced its Scottish roots back to the 9th century, century, but he wasn't satisfied to stop there. He and his wife, Joyce, had just spent two weeks tramping around their ancestral homeland, and they were already plotting a return. "In fact, Gordon had thought about leasing his house and moving over there for a year," his 87-year-old mother, Mildred, said from her home in Russellville. "He had looked at real estate over there and the cost of living." living." But those plans died last week in the flames of American Airlines Flight 1420. The McLerrans were among nine people, including the pilot, who died Tuesday when the MD-82 slid off a runway at Little Rock's National Airport Airport and broke apart in a violent thunderstorm. Investigators have yet to determine precisely what was to blame — pilot error, the storm, a mechanical mechanical failing or possibly some combination. What is certain is that nine lives — some just beginning, others in their golden years — were cut short. James Harrison of Paragould, Ark., was just 21, but he knew exactly what he wanted in life. He often quoted a favorite biblical verse, James 1:1, "a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," said the Rev. George Lynch, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Royal. "That was his name, and that's what he wanted his life to represent," said Lynch, who hired the Ouachita Baptist University senior three years ago to run the music ministry. Lynch, 30, said Harrison was already already showing the traits of a good minister. "We were learning together how to lead a church and choir." A memorial service was held Saturday Saturday for Harrison in the town of Royal. Sue Gray's plans revolved around the next person she could help. Ms. Gray, 78, a retired Russellville schoolteacher, was always doing something at All Saints Episcopal Church — working the flower garden, garden, teaching Sunday school, embroidering embroidering altar linens. She helped a friend who had a triple bypass sur- gery to get out and walk. She made sure that the basketball uniforms and dresses were properly mended for Luanne Hamilton's children. children. "She was a ray of sunshine in our lives and in our children's lives," said Mrs. Hamilton. "She was our Granny Gray, and I was just so blessed to be a part of her life." Judy Thacker, 53, a vice president at the River Valley Bank in Russellville, Russellville, led the tour group to Europe . that included the McLerrans and Ms. Gray. She had been thinking about next year's big trip. Alaska was a possibility. possibility. Betty Ingram was probably itching to get back to her flowers. Ms. Ingram, Ingram, 69, a retired secretary, had a vibrant vibrant garden and worked with other gardeners to put some color around buildings in Russellville. "She took great pride in her flowers and made it a joy to those of us who lived here," neighbor Charity Goates told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Some of the plants in front of Ms. Ingram's Ingram's apartment building have yet to bloom. And despite a successful Air Force career and two decades on commercial commercial airliners, pilot Richard Buschmann, 48, seemed to prefer the simple, everyday pleasures. "It's still the swim meets, the soccer games — typical family life that just keeps going on, only now it isn't," said Eileen Vogler, a longtime family friend in Naperville, III., Gordon and Joyce McLerran, at 64 and 65, had a busy retirement. Mrs. McLerran took up pottery in 1991, not long after the high school sweethearts sweethearts moved to Russellville from Corpus Christi, Texas, where he was a state chemist and she worked in insurance; insurance; he was president of the local arts council and was active in Ki wan is. A memorial service was held Saturday for the McLerrans in Dardanelle. "They were a most devoted couple — in fact, unusually so," said Gordon's Gordon's mother. "Whatever one wanted to do, the other one fell right in with it. They would walk down the mall holding hands." And they gave her life more meaning. meaning. "I should have been the first one to go," she said. "I'm 87 years old now. What good am I now?"