Maria Theresia Liarbke was born in Balve, Westphalia, Germany. She lived happily with her two elder sisters, Ursula and Anna, and her younger brother, Heiner, on her parent's farm. Her sister, Anna, writes, "Maria excelled in sports and loved nature and animals, especially her horse. Her athleticism helped her to become an outstanding tournament rider.
Maria studied education at the University of Munster, Westphalia, and graduated in spring 1988 as one of the best in her class. During her studies, she worked in different educational institutions and was much appreciated by her colleagues for her pedagogical skill, her team spirit, and her friendly nature. In fall 1988, she started to work as a teacher in a special-ed primary school in Munster. Maria felt lucky to get time off in December and January to visit her sister, Anna, in Argentina. Like so many others, she got her ticket (Frankfurt to Buenos Aires via New York) at the last minute and boarded the fatal Pan Am Flight 103 with a heart full of excitement and a suitcase full of Christmas gifts.
Since 1985, Maria had been a very active member of the 'DeutschFranzosisches Jugendwerk' (German-French Youth Association) working enthusiastically for the friendship and better understanding between the French and Germans. In summer 1988, she co-organized an international youth project developed to enhance cultural awareness and tolerance. Who would have imagined that four months later she'd be a victim of international terrorism? Among the many loved ones at her funeral was a large group of friends who came from France to pay their last respects and share our grief. To this day, we enjoy warm contact with Maria's German and French friends.
Our family is very close and the love that united Maria with us during her life unites us with her after her death. Maria's name has been carried on in our family with the christening of Ursula's two daughters, Maja Maria and Amely Maria. With her happy laughter and her loving, charming nature, Maria will always be alive in our hearts."
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