They were two artists bonded by sorrow.
Mary Doucette and Rowland Cheney, both of Lodi, were on a cruise to Alaska when the floatplane in which they were sightseeing crashed Thursday in the Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan. All eight passengers and the pilot died.
Doucette, 59, a painter, and Cheney, 71, a sculptor, had vowed to live life to the fullest after their spouses died of cancer, Doucette’s family said Sunday. They traveled extensively, and Alaska was on their list of places to visit.
“They strongly bonded over the fact their spouses had died from cancer,” said Mania Doucette, the victim’s daughter-in-law. “Going through that, they had a ‘we better live life right now’ attitude because you don’t know what is going to happen.”
The crash remains under investigation, and the bodies are expected to be flown back to California this week.
The plane crashed on a cliff above a lake in steep and muddy terrain, The Associated Press reported. The fuselage was largely intact, but the wings and tail were separated or heavily deformed.
Doucette and Cheney departed Seattle on June 20 on a seven-day cruise on the Westerdam of Holland America Line. They had taken a helicopter ride at another port of call earlier in the trip, said Mania Doucette.
“It gave her some confidence to do it again,” Mania Doucette said, adding that her mother-in-law had telephoned family right after the short helicopter excursion.
John Paul Doucette, the victim’s son, remembered his mother as a confident woman, though not one to take chances.
“She had a fear of heights, so it’s kind of ironic,” John Paul Doucette said. “On family ski trips, she would be terrified of being on the chairlift.”