By Rikki King Herald Writer
EVERETT — Paula Hincapie-Guerra wanted to learn English so she could get a good job and have a good life.
In her native Colombia, she’d worked as a flight attendant.
Hincapie-Guerra, 29, was studying English at Everett Community College. She made friends easily there, inviting others to lunch or to go shopping.
She and her husband, Hector Moreno, a 41-year-old Boeing worker, were killed in a small-plane crash in Nevada over Memorial Day Weekend 2011. They’d lived in south Everett.
On Tuesday, about a dozen friends from EvCC and English instructor John Bruemmer gathered for a memorial on campus. They set up vases of irises and daisies next to a small maple tree that was planted in Hincapie-Guerra’s memory. The maple tree is in the college’s Legacy garden, alongside other memorials.
Angie Bernard read from a letter she wrote about her friend. They had enjoyed doing Zumba, the dancing exercise class, together.
“She was very nice. She was very funny, and very friendly,” Bernard said.
Hincapie-Guerra was looking forward to an upcoming visit from her parents, who live in Colombia. She wanted to become a mother herself.
“I remember Paula all the time. I don’t know why. One day she is here. The next day she is not,” Bernard said. “She had a lot of plans, and she was very happy because her family was coming here for a vacation.”
Bruemmer brought some of the flowers from his garden at home, he said. They wanted to have the three-year anniversary memorial in part so people who knew Hincapie-Guerra could see her tree, which was planted this past fall.
“Mainly to get together, for the people who knew Paula and Hector, just to remember them,” he said.
Another memorial service was held on campus in 2011. Moreno’s colleagues from Boeing attended.
At the time, the EvCC students made a slideshow and sent it to Hincapie-Guerra’s family, along with her framed certificate of completion for the English as a Second Language class.
Hincapie-Guerra’s family wrote back, thanking the students for a being a part of their daughter’s life. The family also sent along a letter they’d written to Hincapie-Guerra.
Bruemmer shared it with the students Tuesday.
“For anyone who had the opportunity to meet you, you were light and poetry. You were an angel who gave lessons of life and hope without expecting anything in return,” the family wrote.
Hincapie-Guerra’s legacy is one of generosity and humility, according to the letter.
She had talked of someday owning her own business, said friend Maria Casey.
“She was a very wonderful person, too young to die,” Casey said.
EvCC student Terry Kaczynski brought a photo of Hincapie-Guerra to set at the maple tree. Hincapie-Guerra was younger than her, and often asked her questions about life, she said.
They’d go to the library after class to talk. Kaczynski and her husband have never forgotten Hincapie-Guerra.
“We remember all the time, and we talk about it often, and what happened,” Kaczynski said. “She was a beautiful, beautiful girl, very smart, very responsible. She was a hard-working person.”
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.