John Ogonowski grew up on a farm and never wanted to give up that life, even as he pursued a distinguished military and civilian flying career. While a young pilot for American Airlines, John began buying land in his hometown of Dracut, Mass., and eventually developed a second career as a hay farmer. John’s wife, Peg, was a flight attendant at American, and they knew her salary would not be enough to support their three young daughters and keep their farm going if something were to happen to John. So John bought life insurance to supplement the coverage provided by the airline.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists hijacked American Flight 11, commanded by Capt. Ogonowski, and flew it into the World Trade Center. In an instant, Peg found herself at the center of the worst terror attack in the nation’s history, her grief compounded by concerns about how she would manage without John. A few days later, the Ogonowskis’ insurance agent, Richard Bourgault, CLTC, LUTCF, came by to offer condolences.
The oldest daughter, Laura, then 16, approached him apprehensively and asked whether they would have to move out of their home. No, he said firmly. “That made all the difference in the world,” he recalls. With the insurance proceeds, Peg was able to pay off the mortgage on her home, retire all of the debt on the farm and set aside college money for her girls. Today the 150-acre family farm is still in business, operated by John’s brother, Jim. Peg recently retired after a 30-year career with American. “I can’t begin to tell you how huge it was to have had the insurance and to know that we were completely covered,” she says.