Hilda Marcin - Hero Of Flight 93Back | Next
Retired teacher's aide and bookkeeper, 79, Mount Olive, N.J.; Daughters, Elizabeth Kemmerer, Carole O'Hare. She was flying to California to live with her younger daughter.
Hilda Marcin had circus blood in her, the only daughter of a member of the famed Circus Krone in Germany. While her adult life was spent as a teacher's aide, fund manager and bookkeeper, that genetic inheritance may best explain her effervescence and lifelong love of dancing.
Born Hildegarde Zill in Schwedelbach, Germany, she was 8 years old when her parents left via Cologne for the United States. The Zills disembarked in 1929 in Hoboken, N.J., settling in Irvington, N.Y., near an amusement park. Soon enough, Hildegarde became Hilda.
Marcin often told her daughters that the worst day of her life was the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
"She just said it was because it was so unexpected," said her younger daughter, Carole O'Hare, of Danville, Calif. "They knew they were going to get into the war but they just didn't know how. It shocked everyone."
The war opened up a job for Marcin handling the payroll at the federal government's massive shipyard and dry dock in Kearney, N.J. During World War II, while the shipyard operated seven days a week, so did she.
The only day she took off during those years was to marry Edward Marcin, an Irvington policeman, in 1943. They'd met on a blind date three months earlier. But the shipyard didn't grant the newlyweds any time for a honeymoon, and the new bride returned for work the next day. Her husband died in 1979.
While Marcin worked for 20 years as manager of Waiters & Waitresses Local 109's retirement and welfare fund, it was her 14 years as a special education instructional aide at a Mount Olive, N.J., school that she loved most, working with students who had been abused or were from drug-addicted families.
Marcin retired from that job this year to move in with O'Hare's family. She normally visited California every summer, but since the eastern winters exacerbated her arthritis, her daughters convinced her to move.
Consistent with her penchant for organization, she made her plane reservations in March and updated her personal papers -- in duplicate -- for her two daughters.
They had planned a surprise 80th birthday party for their mother in December.