Woman killed on Southwest flight remembered for community service | KOB 4

Woman killed on Southwest flight remembered for community service

Kassi Nelson, Jen French, Kai Porter and J.R. Oppenheim
April 19, 2018 06:41 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – People in Albuquerque are mourning the loss of Jennifer Riordan, a woman known for her service to community, her love of family and her uplifting personality.


Messages of sympathy and hope have poured in since news broke that Riordan died after an engine blew on Southwest Flight 1380. According to the Associated Press, a medical examiner in Philadelphia determined Riordan died as a result of blunt impact trauma to her head, neck and torso.

Seven others were injured when shrapnel from the engine hit the plane.

Riordan worked as a vice president for Wells Fargo and her husband, Michael, was the Mayor Richard Berry administration. She was returning from a business trip to a charity conference in New York when the accident occurred.

"We appreciate the outpouring of support for our family and the love for Jennifer," the Riordan family said in a statement. "Hearing stories of how she impacted everyone in so many meaningful ways has truly touched our hearts."

Her Facebook page has become a memorial page. Click here to go to the Remembering Jennifer Riordan Facebook page.

There is an official memorial website here.

Many have come out talking about the big broad strokes Riordan took as a community leader to make Albuquerque a better place. But sometimes the little things tell the biggest story, like a friends' laughter and bright colored ribbons.


The loss of Riordan leaves a hole in many hearts and the nonprofit community. Riordan was a critical player in facilitating donations and spent countless hours helping the disadvantaged, New Mexico's youth and the intellectually challenged.

Randy Mascorella, executive director of Special Olympics New Mexico, said Riordan was always engaged and in the moment.

"Jennifer didn't know a stranger and Jennifer was a friend to every person that she met," Mascorella said.

Alongside intellectually challenged athletes, Mascorella said Riordan carried the long-standing tradition of passing the torch for nine years.

"She just had a heart for our Special Olympic athletes. She loved them and they loved her," Mascorella said.

United Way CEO Ed Rivera said Riordan's generosity was abundant as she facilitated thousands of dollars in donations to the nonprofit.

"They want her legacy to be about loving, being kind and being caring. That's how she was all of the time," Rivera said.

A believer in New Mexico's youth, Riordan also served on Mission Graduate's Vision Council. The program's goal is to help 60,000 new New Mexicans get their college degrees or certificates by 2020.


To those who knew Riordan, she was a cheerleader in every sense of the word. She was encouraging and uplifting in her everyday life. When it came to her daughter's volleyball team, she brought enthusiasm to every game.

"You wanted to be around her, wanted to be her friend, and I'm very blessed that I was able to. Even if it was just for a short amount of time, definitely blessed,” friend Summer Exum said.

Bright ribbons are a reflection of Riordan's personality. She was the team mom for her sixth-grade daughter's volleyball team, the Albuquerque Rebels. She was the loudest in the stands. Moms who spent countless weekends cheering on the girls' right alongside Riordan say their team won't be the same.

"I'll tell you what she was definitely larger than life," friend Senobia Szuch said.

"It's going to be a loss that we're going to feel for a long, long time. There's a definite hole in our club now," Exum said.

To honor their friend, hundreds of ribbons will go from Albuquerque to a volleyball tournament in Dallas. The moms plan to make ribbons for each volleyball player in the Albuquerque Rebels Volleyball Club and every athlete on the opposing teams in this weekend's tournaments.

That's more than 600 ribbons total with Riordan's initials on them.

"It's not something big, but it's something. Sometimes you can cling to a little something that gives you a little peace and hope and joy in a sad situation like this," Exum said.


Riordan's children attend Annunciation Catholic School, a place where she volunteered much of her time.

The school released this statement on Wednesday:

"Annunciation Catholic School is devastated to lose an integral member of our school community. Jennifer Riordan volunteered in many ways including serving on our Consultative Council. She was seen on campus almost daily supporting her beautiful children. She provided encouragement to everyone with whom she came in contact. Her positive motivating spirit will be missed. As a community, we will keep Jennifer and her family in prayer."


Riordan's coworkers at Wells Fargo in Albuquerque faced their first day in the office without her. Her colleagues were left devastated by this tragedy. Riordan's boss said her family and friend always came first, followed by the passion for her work and the community she served.

Riordan worked at Wells Fargo for nine years as the community relations director, overseeing the banks charitable contributions and volunteer efforts in New Mexico and Texas.David Hockmuth, the regional bank president of Wells Fargo New Mexico, said she made a huge impact at the company.

Hockmuth said counseling services are available for Riordan's coworkers as they mourn her loss and process this tragedy. Hockmuth said everyone's thoughts and prayers at Wells Fargo are with husband, children and family.


As news of Riordan's death spread, many prominent New Mexicans such as former Mayor Richard Berry, current Mayor Tim Keller and Gov. Susana Martinez provided statements of sympathy:

"Jennifer Riordan has passed away as a result of previously reported events on Southwest Airlines flight #1380. Jennifer’s vibrancy, passion and love infused our community and reached across our country.  Her impact on everything and everyone she touched can never be fully measured. But foremost, she is the bedrock of our family. She and Mike wrote a love story unlike any other. Her beauty and love is evident through her children. We are so appreciative of the outpouring of support from family, friends and our community. We do ask that those who seek to express their condolences and prayers, as well as media outlets, respect our privacy at this time. Our family and friends need this time to both grieve and celebrate Jennifer’s impact on us all.  In her memory – please remember to always be kind, loving, caring, and sharing."

– Riordan family statement


"Today, Albuquerque lost a thoughtful leader who has long been part of the fabric of our community. We are asking that everyone respects the privacy of the family at this time. This is a tremendous and tragic loss for Jennifer’s family and many others throughout our city. Her leadership and philanthropic efforts made this a better place every day and she will be terribly missed. We are holding Jennifer and her family in our thoughts and prayers."

– Tim Keller,  Albuquerque mayor


"No words can express the depth of our sadness at the passing of Jennifer Riordan. Maria and I send our deepest condolences to the Riordan family. Today our community lost a great leader and a beautiful person."

– Richard Berry, former Albuquerque mayor


"We are all deeply saddened to hear of the tragic passing of Jennifer Riordan today. I and my colleagues on the City Council have had the pleasure of working with Jennifer for many years. She was a vibrant, intelligent and forward-thinking member of the Albuquerque community, and she will be deeply missed. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her husband, Michael, who is a member of the City of Albuquerque family, and to their two young children."

– Ken Sanchez, Albuquerque City Council president


"The Wells Fargo family is saddened to learn of the death of our friend and colleague Jennifer Riordan – a Community Relations leader in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was a well-known leader who was loved and respected. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends. Out of respect for the family and their privacy, we’ve nothing more to share at this time."

– Ruben Pulido, Wells Fargo communications senior manager


"The Governor is deeply saddened by the loss of Jennifer Riordan. She was an incredible woman who put her family and community first, and her loss will be felt across our state. The hearts of all New Mexicans are with the Riordan family."

– Mike Lonergan, spokesperson for Gov. Susana Martinez


"New Mexico is greatly saddened by the news of Jennifer Riordan's tragic death. She was a dear friend and I was honored to work with her on financial literacy issues for over a decade. Jennifer was exceptionally active and passionate in working to improve our community and I express our sincerest condolences to her husband and children."

– Hector Balderas, New Mexico Attorney General


"Jill and I were deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Albuquerque's Jennifer Riordan today. Her charity and kindness touched so many lives in the community and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time."

– U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.

"New Mexico tragically lost one of our very best. Jennifer was a pillar of our community in Albuquerque and will be deeply missed. My wife, Julie, and I are heartbroken for her husband and two children and will continue to keep their entire family in our thoughts. May we all aspire to leave such a positive and lasting impact on our neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family as Jennifer did. Julie and I extend our deepest sympathies to her loved ones as we all grieve this tremendous loss."

– U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.


"I am saddened to hear that Jennifer Riordan, a fellow community member from Albuquerque, has passed. My heart goes out to her family during this difficult time."

– U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.


"My condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Jennifer Riordan who was tragically killed today. Her leadership and dedication to helping those in our community will be remembered."

– U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.

"Jennifer Riordan's tragic loss will be felt deeply across our entire state. Her philanthropy, leadership, and love for her community touched all those around her and she made our state a better place. She will be missed. Jennifer's husband and her two children are in my thoughts during this incredibly difficult time."

– U.S. Rep Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.


"Jennifer had two small children who attended Annunciation, the school up the street from our office and I would see you often. Jennifer was a remarkable mother and part of the NMBA family. Jennifer worked for Wells Fargo."

– Paula Maes, New Mexico Broadcasters Association


"Our hearts go out to the family of Jennifer Riordan, who lost her life today during the tragic plane accident. Jennifer was a parishioner of Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Albuquerque. We pray for the repose of her soul and for her dear loved ones."

– Archdiocese of Santa Fe


“Jennifer Riordan loved Albuquerque and worked tirelessly to help others. Her leadership in numerous charitable causes made a real impact on our state and earned her the respect and admiration of New Mexicans across the political spectrum. Jennifer was a friend and today’s news is deeply saddening. Her husband Michael and her family are in my thoughts and prayers as we mourn her passing.”

– Ryan Cangiolosi, Republican Party of New Mexico chairman


"The New Mexico State Police wishes to extend our most sincere condolences to the Riordan family in the loss of Mrs. Jennifer Riordan. Mrs. Riordan was an exemplary model in the Albuquerque community and will be missed. Our prayers and support are with the family."

– New Mexico State Police Twitter account

"The untimely passing of Jennifer Riordan has left many in the Albuquerque non-profit and philanthropic community with heavy hearts. She was a champion of community collaboration and engagement. Our thoughts are with her family and those throughout the community who are grieving."

– Heading Home


"All of us at PNM are deeply saddened by the loss of one of New Mexico's brightest stars, Jennifer Riordan. Jennifer set the bar high for the giving community, both in terms of her character and her focus on finding meaningful ways to help the less fortunate among us. Her loss leaves a tremendous void. We will always remember her infectious enthusiasm, her tireless work to support our community, and the many ways she helped to make New Mexico a better place for all of us. Our thoughts are with Jennifer's family and friends at this difficult time."



Kassi Nelson, Jen French, Kai Porter and J.R. Oppenheim

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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