August 6, 2001
Plane crash claims four members of Bothell family
by Jeanette Knutson
Area residents mourn the deaths of longtime Bothell community members Robert "Bob" Henderson, 54, and his wife Kristin, "Kris," 52, who died of injuries sustained in a single-engine plane crash the afternoon of July 29, just south of Puyallup. Their daugther Becky Fausey, 25, and her husband Troy, 27, also perished due to the crash, as did pilot Paul Burns, 47, of Connecticut.
Family friend Justin Holderegger, 20, of Gold Bar, survived the crash but remains in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with head and abdominal injuries and multiple fractures.
A summer afternoon of sightseeing flights was meant to highlight a weekend camping trip. But on the second round of flights, three-quarters of a mile from where the 1966 six-seater Piper Cherokee took off, the plane apparently lost power. Witnesses said it descended into a stand of evergreens before coming to rest against the backyard fence of a two-story suburban home.
According to National Transportation Safety Board Air Safety Investigator Dennis Hogenson, wreckage was trailered to Olympia and is being examined. To date, nothing of significance that may have caused the crash has been found. But the circle of the investigation widens. Examiners want to look at pilot records, maintenance records and take witness statements. Hogenson estimates the accident probe will take several months.
In the meantime, friends and neighbors of the Henderson clan remain stunned.
More than one neighbor remembers Bob, "master chef" of the outdoor barbecue pit he built for his wife, flipping hamburgers and rolling hot dogs on the grill.
"Their house was built to have friends over," said longtime acquaintance Maureen Callop. "They had a huge gazebo, a lovely landscaped yard, a basketball hoop ‹ all for family, all for friends," said Callop.
Callop, who has known the family for 18 years and was Girl Scout leader to three of the couple's four daughters, recalls driving past the family's corner lot and seeing cars parked up and down the block. This meant they were having another of their famous parties, she said. The family was renowned for its block parties, its Easter egg hunts, its Fourth of July get-togethers, Halloween parties, Christmas parties.
Remembering the first time she met Kris, Callop said, "I had just put my oldest daughter on the bus to first grade. I was devastated. My baby didn't need me anymore. Then somebody at the bus stop said, 'Now we go to Kris' and have coffee.' Kris? She doesn't even know me," said Callop.
But that didn't matter. Women from blocks away made their way to Kris' house the first day of school. They shared coffee and sweet rolls and motherly banter. It was a tradition Kris had started and kept up until she began working full time.
While Bob was a retired railroad engineer noted for his good deeds around his neighborhood, Kris worked for the Northshore School District for 18 years. According to district spokesperson Pamela Steele, she worked as an instructor's aide at Shelton View Elementary from 1984 to 1990, at Frank Love Elementary from August 1990 to 1993 and at Canyon Creek Elementary from September 1993 to 1997. In January 1998, she became the assistant secretary at Canyon Creek.
Said Steele, " ... I recall hearing how organized and reliable she was. Other things I've heard are what a loving, giving, generous person she was. She really went out of her way to make everyone whose life she touched feel appreciated and valued."
Ann Panush, current Principal of Arrowhead Elementary, worked with Kris at Shelton View and later, when she became principal of Canyon Creek Elementary, hired Kris at Canyon Creek.
"Kris had a wonderful sense of humor," Panus recalled. "Back then she was a Canadian citizen and carried a card in her wallet saying she was an alien. She used to tell the kids at school that she was an alien, and, of course, the kids wouldn't believe her. Then she'd get out her card and show the kids.
"Yet she was somebody who was very proud of America. Six years ago she became a U.S. citizen. She took it all very seriously. She studied and passed the test ... and invited all of us to her naturalization ceremony. Afterwards she had a party to celebrate becoming an American citizen.
"Her whole family helped out at parties, even her mother, who was elderly."
Kris' hostess skills shone at home and at school, said Panush. At end of the year Canyon Creek parties she and Bob hosted, she always used china, never paper plates. And sometimes there were 60 people there. For the school's volunteer luncheon, she would insist on linen tablecloths and doilies on the dessert plates, remembered Panush.
"She always went the extra mile. She did something every day for someone else, oftentimes at the expense of herself. ... [S]he would bake something, buy something, share herself with someone else every day. She was unique, a wonderful, wonderful person ... a hard worker who really believed success didn't come easily. She had a fabulous attitude. She came to work every day knowing the only thing she had control over was her attitude.
"She embraced life. She was happy herself; consequently, she made everyone around her happy. She found happiness in a cup of tea, in the pink dogwoods, in sitting in the gazebo her husband made for her, reflecting on life, nature and beauty. And she encouraged others to do the same," said Panush.
Daughter Becky and husband Troy Fausey recently bought a home in Graham and were quickly meshing with their new community. Becky babysat for neighbors and worked for an orthodontist. Troy, a young and respected member of the Sumner Fire Department, was planning to take paramedic training this fall.
The Hendersons are survived by three daughters, Beth, 18, a recent Bothell High graduate; Shelly, 23, an assistant budget coordinator for Northshore School District's Capital Projects Department; and Debbie, 29, who neighbors say resides in California.
The loss of Henderson family members is an unspeakable tragedy. However, some have said it is no surprise that this remarkable family died actively pursuing a family function. This was, after all, how the Hendersons approached life ‹ together.