Canadian-born Alexander Filipov of Concord, Mass., in August 2001. Filipov was a passenger aboard hijacked American Airlines Flight 11, which that crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Alexander Filipov was born in Regina, grew up in Windsor, Ont., graduated as an electrical engineer from Queen’s University in 1955, and was working for an aerospace firm in Ottawa when, travelling on business, he walked into a love story in Trenton, N.J.
There, in a doctor’s office, Filipov met Loretta Demech, who was working there.
On Sept. 14, 1957, they were married in her hometown in Pennsylvania, and they settled in Ottawa. Two years later, Filipov saw an ad for a job in Massachusetts.
“So we moved here,” Loretta Filipov, now 74, recalls. “And I still live in the same house.”
It hardly gets more American than Concord, Mass., a town settled by Puritans, and in 1962 Al Filipov became a U.S. citizen.
Al and Loretta raised three sons in that house — sons who recall a preternaturally curious and friendly father who became a Boy Scout leader, Little League coach and deacon in his church. Al was an inveterate explorer and tinkerer who loved the outdoors and taught his boys to sail and navigate by the stars. He was a man who bungee-jumped at 60, who learned how to say “Do you like Chinese food?” in more than a dozen languages as a conversational ice-breaker.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Al Filipov, 70 but still doing some consulting work, left that home in Concord at 5:30 a.m. to drive his white Saturn to Boston’s Logan Airport for a business trip to Los Angeles.
He and Loretta were planning to celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary when he returned the following Friday with some golf, and with a trip to Hawaii a few days later.
Usually, Filipov flew Delta. That day, he changed plans in order to get home sooner. He ended up on American Airlines Flight 11, the plane that exploded into the World Trade Centre’s North Tower.
Only a piece of bone was recovered.
“I have a wonderful family, I live in a good community and I have a wonderful church community where both of us were members, and so they sustained me,” Loretta says.
And she immersed herself in peace activism to ensure her husband’s values live on, opposing any revenge sought or retaliatory war made in his name.
The annual Al Filipov Peace and Justice Forum was established at her church. The stated goal of the forum is to bring in noted leaders on the topics of justice, international peace and related issues to speak to the congregation on or around the anniversary of Sept. 11 and Al Filipov’s death.
Loretta Filipov has also been active in the Sept. 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization that advocates nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice.
“That has been a sustaining factor, because everybody’s just like me. We all lost someone on Sept. 11th and . . . we went out in the world to turn our grief into actions for peace.”
This year’s Al Filipov forum at the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord, Mass. will be held on Sept. 14.
“It would have been our 54th anniversary.”