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Memorial Service Pays Tribute to Lives of Anyene Family

Family and friends of Maimuna Anyene, the West Hartford woman who perished with her husband Onyeka Anyene, their four children, and other family members in the crash of a Dana Air plane in Nigeria on June 3, held a celebration of their life on Sunday.

At 10:43 a.m. Sunday, more than 100 people observed a moment of silence in West Hartford's — exactly a week after the crash of a Dana Air plane in Lagos, Nigeria, , their four children (Kamsi, Kayine, Kayima, and Noah), Maimuna's mother Berkisu Mijindadi, and two cousins.

It was a morning filled with prayer and song, a blended ceremony of the couple's Muslim and and Christian traditions, their Nigerian and American cultures.

It was a morning full of tears and sorrow, spent among grief-stricken family, friends, and colleagues still struggling to come to grips with the tragedy which took the lives of an entire family — a family that touched the lives of so many.

It was also a morning of celebration, as those who knew and loved the Anyenes spoke of their kindness and generosity, their dedication to family and careers, and the way in which their spirits will continue to live on through others.

"The power of Maimuna's smile, her love and gracious spirit, have all brought us here today," said Mari Sifo, who opened the ceremony with a prayer.

Beachland Park, which is next to the , was the chosen site for the memorial because Maimuna loved to bring her children there to play. Everything about the morning was filled with significance, from the lilacs (her favorite flowers) on the tables, to the green ribbons worn in honor of all the plane crash victims, to the white balloons said to represent the angels here on earth.

Christian Anyene, Onyeka's brother, said, "This is such a tragic death; there are no words to explain it." It took days before the family could even tell Onyeka's mother, who is in her 80s, of the tragic deaths.

His voice cracking, Christian said of his youngest brother, "He was the baby of the family, but he was the giant of the family."

Ebun Onagoruwa, Maimuna Anyene's best friend, had written a . She read excerpts from that letter to those gathered Sunday. "She faced every challenge or success that came her way with love, determination, humility, courage, honesty, and faith," Onagoruwa said.

"Maimuna loved life, that's why she could smile ... She was generous with her life ... She made time for people, she didn't use excuses," Onagoruwa said. "Let's use their life as a platform to transform our lives," she advised.

Tegan Gonzalez was chosen to speak on behalf of Anyene's Quaker Green neighbors. She recalled all the wonderful times spent with Maimuna Anyene and her family – birthday parties, cookouts – but recalled Maimuna as a dedicated friend who was there for the serious occasions as well.

"When we ask ourselves 'How do we do it?' we will look at Maimuna's example and always do our best," Gonzalez said.

Neighbors chipped in to organize food, memorial cards, and other items needed for Sunday morning's memorial, said Gonzalez.

The Anyene children's nanny, affectionately called "Auntie," struggled to find words through her tears.

Colleagues from United Technologies, where Maimuna Anyene worked in human resources, praised her brilliance as well as her kind and friendly demeanor. "Her confidence was effervescent," said Annie Goodyear of UTC.

Mayor Scott Slifka said of Maimuna Anyene, "As awful as [the tragedy] was, what an unbelievable gift we were given to have known her and her family."

"We can only envy the other world that has been blessed with your family. Sleep well ... " was the message delivered by Ese Sifo as everyone released their balloons to the heavens.

All 153 people on board the Dana Air plane, as well as an unknown number on the ground, were killed when the plane crashed into a densely-populated suburban neighborhood. The cause is still under investigation.

For more information about the family, or to offer condolences, visit their memorial website.

bamidele owojori June 11, 2012 at 02:29 PM
May the souls of d departed rest in perfect peace. I used to know her from afar during our UI days. God knows why it happened that way.
fola fatunbi June 11, 2012 at 06:02 PM
May de soul of d gone, rest well. The LORD knows best. Fola Bellas
Tope Pinheiro June 11, 2012 at 06:34 PM
May their souls continually rest in the peace of the Lord! Amen.
meto June 11, 2012 at 08:33 PM
May their souls rest in peace!God knows best.meto Alomaja
sandra jackson June 12, 2012 at 12:16 PM
May the souls of Anyene's family and all others who was affected in the plane crash RIP. Amen.
morgan nelson o. June 16, 2012 at 04:11 PM
may the souls of the departed be granted eternal rest in Gods presence..it was indeed a blessing to have known you. Morgan
Bunmi T June 22, 2012 at 10:37 PM
May their souls (and ALL the departed)continue to rest with the Lord. May the comfort of the Lord rest upon ALL their families & friends. He only can console......really tragic!

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