Ibolya Gabor was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1909. She was married to Dr. Robert Gabor and had two sons.
Her son Peter writes that Ibolya survived two World Wars, Nazi persecution, post-war famine, and communist oppression. After the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, her sons escaped to the West and ended up in the United States, following their graduation from medical school at McGill University in Montreal.
Ibolya was traveling on her annual trip from Budapest to Los Angeles to spend the Christmas holidays with her family. During a stopover in Frankfurt, she was asked to interpret for a family who spoke only Hungarian, a husband, wife, and an eight-year-old girl—the Rollers. According to witnesses at the time, the Pan Am plane was still at the gate when she got there, but the agent refused to let her and the Rollers board the plane. The plane left with her luggage on board, which arrived intact a few days later. Instead of booking her and the Rollers onto a non-stop flight to Los Angeles, Pan Am put them on a flight that was going to London, New York, and then on to Los Angeles. She should not have been on that ill-fated flight that was blown out of the sky.
Her family, waiting at the airport in vain, was told by Pan Am that Ibolya was to arrive after midnight on a TWA flight from Frankfurt. It was only when she failed to arrive that they began to suspect the worst. The Pan Am handling of the catastrophe only made the situation worse.
It was a dark Christmas for her family and a tragic end to a still very young spirited person who was so much looking forward to seeing her family in sunny California.
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