VICTIM'S FAMILY FOCUSES ON HEALING

DENNIS YUSKO Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B1

Date: Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Diane ``Dani'' Moore Parsons, who is believed to have died in the World Trade Center attacks, was memorialized Monday at a solemn service attended by more than 350 friends and family. Speakers at St. Peter's Catholic Church remembered the 58-year-old mother, grandmother and income tax technician during an hourlong liturgy as a ``beautiful, strong and intelligent'' woman who worked hard to make others happy.


Near the end of the service, in two emotional speeches, Parsons' son and stepdaughter told the standing-room-only gathering that now was a time for healing, not hatred.


``I hope we can get beyond 9-11-01,'' Frank Tatum, Parsons' 32-year-old son, told the mourners. ``This was caused by blind hatred. We can't allow ourselves to sink to that.''


Tatum and other family members recently returned from Manhattan, where they tried to find Parsons -- an employee of the state Department of Taxation and Finance in Albany who traveled to the World Trade Center about once a month on routine business. She was on the 87th floor of the south tower when terrorists flew commercial jets into each tower on Sept. 11. Her body has not been found.


At Monday's service there were flowers and a large colorful picture of Parsons' smiling face over the Stars and Stripes.


``Our thoughts are with the rescue workers and police and the members of the military who will be in harm's way,'' said stepdaughter Laura Parsons, sobbing between words.


Of the 223 employees of the state tax department, 39 -- including Parsons -- are believed to have died in the attacks.


That statistic has been extra hard on Parsons' husband, Howard. The couple married last January in Las Vegas after meeting on the job in 1990.


``I probably knew about seven out of the 39 (apparent victims),'' said Howard Parsons, who retired from the department as an income tax program manager.


The Parsons lived on Thimbleberry Road in Malta. In her free time, Diane Parsons was the outgoing and popular weekend hostess at Bishop's Gate Restaurant of Malta, which her family owned.


``She had two speeds -- fast and asleep,'' Tatum recalled.


Diane Parsons was conducting tax audits on the 87th floor of the south tower on Sept. 11. After a plane struck the north tower, she told her daughter in Schenectady by cellphone that authorities had asked employees not to exit the tower or panic.


The phone went dead, and minutes later the second plane struck the south tower.


Parsons leaves behind her husband, her mother, three children, four stepchildren and two grandchildren.


Tatum shook hands with those gathered outside the church after the service. For him, his mother's death provided a simple but lasting message.


``It's never too late to tell someone you love them or to mend a fence,'' Tatum said.